Coach and elite athlete, Pat Casey, breaks down the terminology between blood lactate and lactic acid, and the role PR Lotion can play in performance. Pat is a full-time coach and co-founder ofPeak State Fitin Salt Lake City, Utah, where he combines his experience in cycling with a background in strength and conditioning, biology/physiology, and bike fit.
Pat Casey is an elite cyclist and co-founder of Peak State Fit.
What is Blood Lactate?
During aerobic exercise, our cells undergo metabolic pathways to utilize nutrients to create energy in the form of ATP. During these processes, electrons are transferred from reducing agents like glucose to O2 which is oxidized, and subsequently produces ATP (usable energy) through oxidative phosphorylation. During this process, blood glucose is converted to usable energy, O2 is converted to CO2 and expelled, and some is broken down and stored as pyruvate which can be looked at as an emergency fuel source, like a secondary fuel tank in a vehicle. The only difference is, when we enter into “turbo” mode, or perform anaerobic activity (as an intense surge or acceleration), we shift from our aerobic, O2-dependent fuel conversion method to an anaerobic mode of metabolism, where pyruvate is converted to lactate.
Does my Body Produce Lactate or Lactic Acid?
A common misconception about blood lactate, often referred to as lactic acid, is that the body produces an acidic compound that contributes to depolarization of the muscles and leads to failure. On the contrary, the body produces lactate as fuel, which in reality functions as a conjugal base for counteracting the depolarization of the cells in the muscle. Once the capacity of pyruvate to lactate production is outdistanced by the depolarization caused by acidity in the muscle, it has reached its “threshold” and must recover. Numerous studies have shown that sodium bicarbonate supplementation alkalizes the blood and muscle, reducing the acid and leaving water, carbon dioxide, and lactate which is then available to your muscles as a fuel source. The peer-reviewed trial conducted at San Diego State University’s Exercise & Nutritional Sciences Department with PR Lotion found exactly that, an increase in lactate available as fuel, in addition to other significant effects. The full study can be foundhere.
“I Always Thought Lactate was Bad!”
Outdated schools of thought would suggest that lactate is the culprit for fatigue and eventual muscle failure. However, lactate has an under-appreciated role in athletic performance. Many think of “lactate threshold” as the ability to tolerate lactate in the muscle. From a general chemistry perspective, the difference in “lactate” versus “lactic acid” requires a basic knowledge of acids and bases.
To be an acid, a molecule must have an available hydrogen ion (+) to donate. Lactate is missing one proton, making it “basic”. In other words, lactate is simply lactic acid missing a proton and causing it to be “basic” or able to accept a hydrogen ion. This slightly negative “charge” or ability to accept a proton is what makes lactate capable of combating depolarization of the muscle, caused by acidity. When the muscle cells become more acidic during strenuous exercise, lactate can be thought of as a pH balancing superhero, jumping into action to aid in keeping muscles firing.
Change the Paradigm: Lactate is the Key to Success
The way we think about lactate has changed in the endurance sports world. Lactate is a good thing. Building better utilization of lactate comes with a fair share of discomfort, burning legs, and a desire to give in to the governor in your mind telling you to stop. Ultimately, embracing lactate threshold work in your training will help push your muscles to new limits! Creating an environment for muscles to thrive under stress defines a large part of the physiological training adaptations we strive for as endurance athletes. Train to use lactate, push a little longer, and have confidence that lactate is there to keep you going when the race gets really tough.
This product is phenomenal! Truly is a game changer. Used it recently for my 12+ Hour Spartan Endurance Race that required me running over 30 miles, climbing up mountains, and doing over 65 obstacle courses. Amp Human was critical in me finishing this race! Will continue using it and telling others about it
I am consistently surprised by how well this stuff works. I use it for all my long rides and am much less sore the following day than I expect to be.
I used this for the first time during a half marathon and absolutely loved it! I had almost no pain in my legs, WAY less than normal, and I was able to run longer because of it. Highly recommend this!
I’ve been so happy with PR Lotion. I can push through hard intervals and race with confidence that I do t have to overreach and burn out early. There are plenty other products that make claims, but PR Lotion has the research and results.
I love this stuff. My legs don't cramp, they aren't sore afterwards, and it's become a pivotal part of my pre-race routine.
I have been using the lotion mainly for my lactic threshold sessions. I get through the workouts with less pain and find that I am able to recover for the next day. The biggest plus is not feeling so much of the burning sensation in my hamstrings as much after high intensity interval runs.
The first two times I used PR lotion, I won two UCI cyclocross races! Of course, it's become a staple part of my training and racing routine since then. Recently, I competed in 4 events at Sea Otter in 3 days - using PR lotion before and after each one. I won the final event and was amazed how well my legs held up for all of the efforts.