Aerobic & Lactate Threshold Testing- Various questions

  • Creator
  • #27089


    Lactate step Test

    So i’ve decided to take the Lactate test as mentioned on the TFTUA book. I’m not a big fan of the treadmill, however i think it can be more accurate for this test. I have done some scouting for some outdoor 3 minute hills but i think that the grade will not be stable.
    “My questions are”
    What is your opinion on the treadmill test vs the outdoor? How moderate must the incline be for the outdoor test? Also shall i note the pace at which the Aet is reached for a future reference? ( so i know whether i’m improving or not)
    And to confirm the incline for the treadmill must be at 5% right?
    Also if i perform the test on the treadmill how long do i have wait or recover after each stage ?

    Lactate Threshold Testing

    Again for this test which in your opinion will be more accurate . The outdoor or the treadmill test? I live near by hills, but it will difficult to choose a hill that is gonna be a steady uphill for 30-60 minutes. Inclines might change. For that reason again i’m thinking about the treadmill. But what incline should be used on the mill >=5% ?

    Thanks in advance. I’m so glad that i have found this page! Such a great resource. Also the TFTUA book is like the bible for me now!


  • Participant
    TerryLui on #27128

    Hello and welcome!
    Key questions you’re asking and I can shed light on some but not all…
    Personally, I found the indoor treadmill test to be easier to do. More ability to control variables.

    Treadmill test = 10% grade
    And in case you haven’t already seen the below articles:

    Indoor Treadmill AeT test –

    Outdoor AeT test –

    exarchoste on #27148

    Thank you for your reply.

    I was not aware of these articles. I was referring to the Lactate step test mentioned on the TFTUA book by using a portable lactate analyzer. So now i would like to ask which of these should i do? I am bit confused..

    JGwartney on #27179

    I think the treadmill will be more accurate for both tests.
    I would choose to test with the lactate meter if you have one available.
    You are correct, set the incline on the treadmill to 5%.
    When I tested my AeT I didn’t rest between the lactate tests.
    I would use heart rate instead of pace to note when you reach your AeT. Start with a heart rate at 110-115, slowly increase the pace of the treadmill after each lactate test so that your heart rate increases by around 5 bpm.

    I hope this helps,

    TerryLui on #27185

    I agree with Jon, if you have a lactate meter go with that 🙂

    Anonymous on #27198

    What is your opinion on the treadmill test vs the outdoor?

    Treadmill FTW. I’ve done lots of tests both outdoors and indoors. Now, I would never do an outdoor step test. They just aren’t accurate nor precise.

    How moderate must the incline be for the outdoor test?

    I would test in the most sport-specific way possible.

    * For climbing and skimo, I would use a grade of 25% (if you can find a Woodway 4Front). Otherwise, most treadmills will go to 15%. (A NordicTrack incline trainer could work in theory, but speeds are inconsistent at steep angles. The speed won’t match the display, usually on the high side.)
    * For mountain running, maybe 10-15% would work if your objective runs in those angles.
    * Around 5%, you’ll be running rather than walking/hiking (like in steep terrain), so it’ll be less specific. But if that’s all you have access to, use that.

    Also shall i note the pace at which the Aet is reached for a future reference? ( so i know whether i’m improving or not)

    On a treadmill, yes, always. On an outdoor course, meh. The variations in GPS-generated speed and variations in terrain will make pace comparisons tricky to impossible.

    Also if i perform the test on the treadmill how long do i have wait or recover after each stage ?

    Start the next stage right after you take a sample.

    exarchoste on #27221

    Thank you very much for your analytical explanations.

    One last question about the “Lactate Threshold Testing”

    What incline should i choose for the test? I am trail-mountain runner. Will this also depend on the kind of terrain i’m training or racing.

    Anonymous on #27229

    All the above comments are right on. Its great to have so much participation in the forums. As for gradient of the test: As Scott Semple says use a grade that is as sport specific as possible. For mountain running I’d say 10-15% will work fine. Make the steps in speed small enough so that they only elicit less than 10bpm jump in HR. The finer these steps more accurately you’ll be able to find your 2mMol/L spot.


    samjleach on #27245

    Hi all,
    Love the book and it’s focus on building a strong base. I’ve have been scouring the forum to avoid repeating a question about AeT testing.

    I’m 31, have done a variety of hiking and long distance cycling. Did two 50km ultra last season and am now setting up my training for the current season.

    So based on the MAF my AeT is 149. When I tested it myself nose breathing with HR it was 155, although I would struggle to have a conversation at that level; meaning I’m above my AeT . I also did a LT test at 169, so definately suffering from ADS; not worried about that, more concerned I’m going to try and set my AeT too high and do all my subsequent training way too hard.

    Q. At what point would you consider not being able to hold a conversation (labored breathing in between each word/pauses etc)?
    Q. Do the added 6 BPM between the MAF and test make that much difference?

    I would like to figure out how to actively assess my AeT so I can test for improvement in the future.



    JGwartney on #27265

    Hey Sam,
    If you haven’t already I’d reference the article Terry linked above. It gives a good explanation of an indoor treadmill AeT test.

    I think if you can’t speak in full sentences without sucking air you’re beyond a conversational pace. This might be on the conservative side but will ensure you don’t set your AeT too high.

    I don’t think the MAF method would set your AeT too high, it’s based on an average and if you’re running ultras and such you’re probably above that average. The problem is it won’t account for increases in your AeT as you train.

    We’ll see what the experts, which I am definitely not, say on this topic.

    TerryLui on #27341

    Hey Sam,
    Jon is right re: conversational pace.
    Here’s a quote from TftNA for “nose breathing”:
    “To find the upper end of this zone, start by exercising slowly while breathing through your nose only. As you increase the intensity/speed gradually, note the point at which this nose breathing becomes noisy and labored.”

    What you’re describing “(labored breathing in between each word/pauses etc)” I would consider Zone 3.

    Anonymous on #27396

    One thing about nose breathing: We’ve moved away from it. We’re using a heart rate drift test instead.

    With well-trained athletes, nose breathing is a reliable indicator of aerobic threshold. But with athletes that have overdone high-intensity training (Crossfit, et al), they can nose breathe well above their aerobic threshold.

    The drift test is more reliable.

    exarchoste on #27422

    I just checked the “Heart Rate Drift: A Functional Measure of Fitness” article. I can’t see the Pa:Hr= the upper corner as the article mentions. I don’t have an official account on TP though.

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