How do I find out my lactate threshold for running or biking?

Have you ever pushed yourself to the point during a run or bike ride where your muscles scream and your breath becomes rapid and uncontrolled? This pivotal moment is closely tied to your lactate threshold – a critical metric for any endurance athlete. Understanding and identifying your threshold is not just for professional athletes; it’s vital for anyone looking to improve their endurance and performance in running or biking. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what it is, why it matters, and most importantly, how you can determine your own lactate threshold to optimize your training and performance.

What is Lactate Threshold (LT)?

It refers to the point during intense exercise at which lactate starts to accumulate in the bloodstream faster than it can be removed. This is significant because lactate accumulation is often associated with fatigue and a decrease in performance. In endurance sports like running and biking, working just below the LT allows athletes to maximize their efficiency and endurance. But why is this threshold so crucial? Understanding your LT helps tailor your training to improve endurance, speed, and overall performance. The science behind it involves the body’s use of oxygen to break down glucose for energy. At low levels of exertion, the body can recycle lactate efficiently, but as intensity increases, lactate production outpaces its removal, leading to the familiar feeling of muscle burn.

Signs of Reaching of your limits

Identifying when you hit your lactate threshold can be tricky, as it varies from person to person. However, there are common physical signs to look out for. Typically, you’ll experience an increased rate of breathing and a noticeable but not overwhelming feeling of muscle fatigue. Performance-wise, this is the point where maintaining pace becomes more challenging, and effort levels spike significantly. Recognizing these signs during training can help you approximate your lactate threshold even without sophisticated tests.

Methods to Determine Your Lactate Threshold

The most accurate way to determine your flactate threshold is through laboratory testing, which involves exercising at progressively higher intensities while measuring the lactate concentration in your blood. However, not everyone has access to such facilities. For runners, a practical field test might involve a time trial where you run a set distance as fast as you can sustain. Cyclists can undertake a similar approach, measuring their power output over a given duration. Technology also plays a role; various heart rate monitors and fitness trackers can estimate your lactate threshold based on heart rate data and perceived exertion.

Complete your test workouts, which will give you a good approximation of your lactate threshold value in the Training plan software

Training to Improve

Improving your LT involves targeted training. For runners, this could mean tempo runs, where you run at a steady, controlled pace just below your lactate threshold for extended periods. Cyclists can employ interval training, alternating between high-intensity bursts and recovery periods. The key is to gradually increase the duration and intensity of these workouts, allowing your body to adapt and push your lactate threshold higher.


Determining and understanding your limits is a game-changer in the world of endurance sports. Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner, a cycling enthusiast, or someone looking to improve their aerobic fitness, grasping this concept can significantly enhance your training effectiveness. Remember, finding your lactate threshold is just the beginning – the real progress comes from how you apply this knowledge to your training regimen.