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Lactic acid.(7 posts)

Lactic acid.Allen az
Sep 27, 2001 9:05 PM
Is the amount of lactic acid that builds up in your legs based on genetics? Or is there something you can do to produce less of it?

re: Lactic acid.cyclequip
Sep 28, 2001 3:05 AM
The amount of lactate produced is determined by muscular exertion levels. On a simplistic level, one molecule of ATP will produce 1 'ratchet' of muscle contraction with a corresponding byproduct of lactes. Accumulation of lactates depends on exertion level and cardiovascular development or fitness. Some of this may be genetic. As your cardiovascular system develops, the rate of accumulation is slowed as more lactates are removed per heartbeat. Hence the ability to raise the OBLA (onset of blood lactate accumulation)level. You can also condition yourself to raise your lactate pain threshold.
Lance, genetic mutantmr_spin
Sep 28, 2001 7:19 AM
Genetics definitely. Supposedly Lance Armstrong's body produces only 25% of the amount of lactic acid a "normal" person would. Which unquestionably gives him an edge in competition. I'd bet that a lot of the top pros also produce a lot less than the average cyclist, although maybe not as little as Lance. You gotta be born with it.

All you can really do is increase your tolerance for it. Blame your parents. It's their fault.
ride lotsDog
Sep 28, 2001 7:38 AM
Training will increase you body's ability to utilize oxygen, therefore decreasing the amount of lactic acid "build up." Over the years of hard training, you'll likely get progressively in better shape.

There are training methods that specifically are aimed at lactic acid reduction or tolerance, notably intervals. I do intervals at least once a week, all year round. Sometimes they are disguised as hill repeats or "fartlek" type training, but the point is to get anaerobic, suffer a little, and training your body to tolerate it.

Despite training though, obviously everyone is genetically limited as some point. It might be an ultimate limitation, beyond which no amount or kind of training will benefit, or the limititation might be more subtle, such as, how much can my body handle and recover during training? My body might very well be theoretically capable of higher performance, but if I can't handle the training load to get there, I'm limited. Can be very complex.

All that aside, I'd estimate that most of us are capable of much higher performance than we have experienced. How many of us have trained, recovered, eaten, etc., perfectly? Until you get to the top of the elite levels (even then, look at Ullrich gaining too much weight over the winter), I doubt any of us are even close to our potential.

Read Chapters..coonass
Sep 28, 2001 4:07 PM
#23:"Beating the Burn"; #24:"Bicarbonate buffers (lactic) Acid" and #25:"Phosphate loading" in 'Optimum Sports Nutrition' by Dr. Michael Colgan
Thanks all. (nm)Allen az
Sep 28, 2001 6:02 PM
Lactic Acid has been framed!Wayne
Sep 29, 2001 6:58 AM
Maybe...I'm working on a PhD that involves muscle and fatigue (although I'm certainly no exercise physiologist) and I'm not so certain LA is what limits you're performance. Recent work has shown that Lactic Acid does not inhibit force production in muscle. I'm not even sure the "burn" people get is from lactic acid. There's a disease called McArdle's syndrome in which the affected people lack one of the enzymes for lactic acid production (so ATP production is entirely limited to the aerobic pathway). These people have a hard time exercising, experiencing cramps and burning (I think). If LA was such an evil these people should be great endurance athletes (maybe). I've also heard the thing about Armstrong only producing 25% of the LA of normal people, what's that mean? Is it at a certain sustained power output? That would just mean he's fitter and producing his ATP aerobically. Is it his maximal LA level? If it is then his aerobic capacity must be that much higher than his competitors because he doesn't seem to be able to produce ATP anaerobically at the rate of everyone else. Wouldn't that limit his ability on efforts > Lactate Threshold? (I seriously doubt that is the case).
I know as you get fitter your LT becomes a higher percentage of your VO2max, but still anyone who goes all out will exceed their LT and the time at which they can maintain that effort is fairly limited (I'm not sure what the variability is on this time). It's the old Lemond quote: "it never gets easier, you just go faster". Regardless of whether not LA is what stops you from going faster or not, great endurance athletes are great because they use oxygen to produce ATP at a greater rate than others, this may be reflected in LA production, but that doesn't mean they are good because they produce less LA. It simply means that at a given sustained power output you or I would be above are LT, killing ourselves, while Armstrong would be riding along at a comfortable aerobic pace. You wouldn't look at that and say Armstrong is faster (since he could pick up his speed and ride away at any point, while you're at your limit) than me because he's not producing LA. He's faster than you because his oxidative capacity is so much greater and therefore he can go faster (produce more power) before reaching his threshold. This was a long winded way of saying, don't worry about LA (so much), worry about your aerobic capacity, which will increase the level at which your LT is reached. Anaerobic levels are the penthouse floors of the skyscraper (maybe everyone has 2 to 4 of these lets say), but its the lower floors that mostly explain the variability in individual endurance performance (lets say from 1 to 100 floors), and therefore determine ultimately the height of your "building".