How to control lactic acid during your workouts. That’s what I’m going to be answering in this episode of #AskYuri.
Hey guys. How is it going? Yuri Elkaim here. I’ve got an interesting question here from Akash. Who wants to know, is it possible to control the lactic acid secretion in our body while working out? If our body must be slightly acidic, is it producing lactic acid? What’s the exact work of it? How does it, I mean I don’t think the English was the best here in the question, but I think we get the gist of it.
So, he wants to know how to control lactic acid. Is there a way of reducing it, during your workouts? That’s a really good question. First of all we need to understand what lactic acid is. Why it’s produced.
So lactic acid is essentially a waste product. When your body is, for so if I’m speaking here, okay. If I’m speaking to you, what my body is using predominantly as an energy system is the ATP-PC system.
So if quickly go like this, yeah. If I quickly do that, that’s mainly ATP and Phosphate Creatine in the ATP-PC system, which gives me a quick, or gives my muscles a quick surge of energy to perform that. Okay, Just like that.
However, if I’m just standing here, and I’m talking, mostly most of my energy is coming from the aerobic system. Okay, which means that my body is able to furnish all of its cells with enough oxygen to perform the activity.
As I’m standing here, I’m not producing lactic acid, right. The reason for that is because I haven’t switched over into the anaerobic or glycolytic energy system or the lactate system. There so many names for it. It’s actually pretty funny.
So what happens is that, let’s say we’re working out, or let’s just use the example of running, because I think running is a really good example. Let’s say I’m jogging. I can jog and carry a conversation. I’m on my talk test pace. You can walk and do the same thing. Your body is not producing any significant amount of lactic acid.
Let’s say you start increasing your pace, you start running. Then you start sprinting, but you start sprinting for certain amount of time, that starts to produce that burning sensation in your muscles. That’s lactic acid.
Why does that happen? Well it happens because your muscles cannot get enough energy from oxygen, because oxygen is needed for cellular respiration, which is how our cells produce ATP, which is the basic unit of energy. Our body cannot get enough of that by sucking in enough oxygen. So it switches over, to the anaerobic energy system.
What that means is that, it’s an energy system that produces ATP a lot more of it, but without oxygen. So one of the side effects, not that it’s a bad thing, but one of the side effects of this anaerobic energy system is that, yes it produces more energy; but it also produces more waste. Waste in the sense of lactic acid.
That’s why when you exercise at a higher intensity; you can’t exercise as long, because your body simply builds up the lactic acid. When you have too much lactic acid, it literally inhibits muscular contraction, and energy production.
How do you avoid that? How do you reduce the amount of lactic acid that you create, at given intensities? Well basically the answer is this. You need to train at those intensities or higher, so that your body becomes fitter. So that what used be its lactic threshold is now a lot higher.
This is one of the things that really separated Lance Armstrong, when he was cycling, and maybe it wasn’t this, but maybe it was the drugs that he was on. Anyway what was said for a very long time for Lance Armstrong, was that he able to push himself so much further or harder than other cyclists, because his lactic threshold was so much higher.
What that means is that he was able to workout, or cycle at a higher speed, uphill through different terrain, without producing as much lactic acid as somebody else who was working out, or cycling at the same intensity, but producing a lot more lactic acid.
So the best way really to reduce lactic acid production is to train at higher intensities, and get your body used to producing energy at those higher intensities. As your body becomes fitter and stronger, more fit in that sense, what used to be very challenging now becomes of little less challenging. When that happens, you’re able to workout at that same intensity and produce less lactic acid as a byproduct. I hope that makes sense, okay.
So it’s a very simple solution. The training though is not as much fun. To improve your lactic threshold, you really have to push yourself. It’s kind of uncomfortable. As in, it’s really the feeling of a prime example would be running a 200 m race, or a 400 m at the track at full speed.
Those are very lactic acid producing type of events, because they’re about 30 seconds to about 60 seconds, 70 seconds. Which is right in that sweetspot for a lot of lactic acid production, if you’re working out at full speed. But the only way to improve that is by training at those intensities.
I hope that answers your question Akash, because that’s the reality. That’s how the best athletes get to the next level. The cool thing about doing this is that it’s not just about lactic acid, but here is something else. The fitter you become, and the higher your lactic threshold is, the less your body relies on burning carbohydrates as fuel. The more it can rely on fats for fuel.
That’s pretty cool. Because we all know or hopefully we all know, that at lower intensities as you see on the cardio machines during your fat burning zone, at higher intensities, you’re in your carbohydrates, or your cardiovascular zone. All that means that the higher intensity you work out at, the more carbohydrates you use. The lower the intensity, the more fat you use as a fuel.
Here is the cool thing. The fitter you are, the more you can move up that intensity scale, and still use fat as your primary fuel source. That’s why it’s because your body is looking to spare muscle glycogen. It’s looking to hold on to it. That’s how carbohydrate stored in your body, and it’s going to start to say, “Hey you know what we need to conserve this, let’s use fat instead.” But that doesn’t happen unless you reach a certain level of fitness, where your body can do that. All right.
So that’s kind of a technical exercise, physiology type of answer. Really good stuff to know though. Hopefully that answers your question. So that’s about it.
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