Lactate test and strange training zones

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  • #6012

    Hi Scott and Steve,

    First – like everyone else, I want to say thanks for TFtNA. I just got into mountaineering this year, and after training based on reading TFtNA and using your TrainingPeaks plans, my first climb went great.

    I decided to have a lactate test to help dial in my training, but the training zones the lab provided are a bit confusing. They listed my lactate threshold heart rate as 147 bpm. That seems to make sense, since my fasted baseline bLa level was 1 mmol, and I hit 2 mmol at a heart rate of about 147 bpm. But the training zones aren’t what I expected based on that result. Would you mind letting me know what you’d suggest as training zones based on the attached results?

    Thanks again!

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    Anonymous on #6023

    Your test provides some conclusive information and I’ll tell you how I interpret it. You’d be surprise at how many tests come back with inconclusive results for one reason or another. The only whacky thing that jumps out is the VO2 scale on the right hand side of the middle graph. It is WRONG and I can’t imagine why they show it. The other table lists your maxVO2 as 42ml/kg/min and if you look at the right hand scale on the middle graph it lists you maxVO2 as 180 ml/kg/min, which is in greyhound racing dog territory and far beyond human potential. When I see these kinds of super basic mistakes, which routinely come out of testing labs, I wonder who the hell is driving the ship there and how can they not know such basic stuff. We see stuff like this all the time.

    Anyway: You have a very well developed aerobic engine. You can see this by the flatness of the lactate curve in he early stages of the test. Your Aerobic Threshold is at 147 (or very close to that HR) this is the top of your Z2.

    Without seeing the raw data I can’t tell you where the Anaerobic / Lactate threshold (top of Z3 that separates hard from very hard training) is but you can and should do a field test for this as described here: That test will give a far more meaningful and useful number than the treadmill test anyway. However based on the lactate numbers I am willing to bet your Anaerobic threshold is going to be in the neighbor hood of the low to mid 160s. If you find, by doing the above field test that your AnT (top of Z3) and AeT (top of Z2) are 10% or less apart in terms of HR, then you need be cautious with the amount of Z2 training you do as Z2 is pretty training hard for you. This shows already from this test where your RPE (relative perceived exertion) is about 12-13 at AeT. Moderately hard. You should probably limit Z2 to less that 10% of total weekly aerobic volume and make up the rest of the easy aerobic volume in Z1 and even recovery paced workouts. This small spread between threshold also means that you should begin adding a Z3 interval session into your plan each week. This should be fairly event specific. If you are a runner then do this running. If you are a mountaineer then do it hiking uphill.

    Once you know these two primary metabolic markers they for the anchor points for the other zones. Z will be around 130 and below. Z4 will be above the AnT HR you find from the test.

    I hope this helps,

    amthum on #6171

    I get confused with some of the terminology. In the New Alpinism book I thought you guys wrote that the Aerobic Threshold was at the top of Zone 1, but above you mention that it is at the top of Zone 2. The book also associates the Aerobic Threshold with your nose breathing pace. I have been using this nose breathing method to keep my Zone 1 workouts in Zone 1, but if your Aerobic Threshold is at top of Zone 2, is this nose breathing pace at the top of Zone 2 also? If so, it sounds like I might be doing Zone 1 workouts in Zone 2. Did I misunderstand something in the Chapter 2 section on heart rate zones? I haven’t finished reading the book yet so maybe I’m just jumping ahead.


    planetmarshalluk on #7526

    The only whacky thing that jumps out is the VO2 scale on the right hand side of the middle graph. It is WRONG and I can’t imagine why they show it.

    This looks to me like the heart rate scale, and the axis has been mislabelled.

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