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Lactic Acid Training – What the Actual Heck is it & Should I Be Doing It?

Feel the burn

There's almost as many exercise philosophies and techniques as there are different types of lifts... And when it comes to challenging yet result-oriented muscle shredding - lactic acid training is where it's at.

If you haven't heard of lactic acid training before, it's worth checking out. It packs a punch and has a ton of benefits - but it's also not for the faint of heart. Have you got what it takes? 

If you're ready to ratchet up your muscle tone and endurance, let's explore exactly what lactic acid training is and whether it's right for you:


What is Lactic Acid Training?

In a nutshell, lactic acid training is a specialized training technique that has you work your muscles to specifically produce extra lactate. Lactate (also called lactic acid)  is an exercise byproduct released by your muscles when they undergo intense strain, such as during high-intensity workouts. And yes, it kinda hurts.

I'm not gonna lie, lactic acid has a bit of a bad rap - But it's not entirely warranted. For the longest time, lactate has been the enemy of gym junkies everywhere, copping all sorts of accusations like causing muscle fatigue and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, which aren't actually true.

While it sounds crazy that you'd intentionally try to increase the amount of lactic acid in your body, this burning sensation ain't at all bad for you, it just feels uncomfortable. In actual fact, production of lactic acid has been proven as an incredible catalyst for muscle gains.

Some examples of lactic acid exercises include powerlifting, sprinting, HIIT and agility training.

FEEL THE BURN:  You already know what this feels like; lactate is responsible for the “burn” that you experience when you pump iron or test your muscles to the limit. In addition to making your muscles burn, lactate helps your body generate the human growth hormone, which plays a key role in growing muscle mass.

MORE REPS, LIGHT WEIGHTS:  More specifically, lactic acid training has you focus on doing lots of reps using relatively light weights rather than doing a few reps with heavier weights. For example, you may do between two and three sets of lifts with 12 to 25 repetitions each set. For the best results, lactic acid training requires you to use weights that are only about 30% heavy compared to your one-rep maximums.

FROM GO TO WOAH: Furthermore, lactic acid training requires you to have very little rest in-between sets. The point is to strain your muscles and their endurance to the max through repetition and constant movement, rather than tearing muscle fibers with intense, single-rep strains.

Why is Lactic Acid Training Beneficial?

For many, the unconventional methods used by lactic acid training can be very beneficial. Here's just a few of the perks you'll get in return for the burn:

IT'S LOW IMPACT:  Lactic acid training places your body muscles under tons of tension and stress without increasing the risk of injury or over tearing those muscles. Again, since the weights used are relatively light, you don’t need to worry about throwing out your back or popping a joint when doing lactic acid training.

GIVES AN AEROBIC PUMP: Additionally, it can be very beneficial aerobically. By doing a lot of reps in rapid succession, your heart rate will increase and your cardiovascular health will also be improved.

GETS YOU TONED: Furthermore, lactic acid training (and similar exercise philosophies) emphasize muscle tone and definition. If you’re a lifter who already has lots of muscle mass on your arms or chest, you can tone your muscles and increase their endurance with lactic acid training. This works when you repeatedly lift manageable but light weights a lot rather than lifting heavy weights a few times.

The Downside to Lactic Acid Training

While lactic acid training can be beneficial, keep in mind that there’s one potential disadvantage: it sucks.

Simply put, forcing your body to make extra lactic acid induces a serious burn. Because of this, many exercise enthusiasts find lactic acid training to be uncomfortable at best. However, if you love to grind your teeth and overcome serious challenges, lactic acid training could be right up your alley.

So, Is Lactic Acid Training Right for You?

Ultimately, only you can decide whether lactic acid training makes sense for your exercise regimen and goals. Consider implementing lactic acid training in between other sets to see if it works – and if you're tough enough to take it on!

Thanks for reading, stay strong warrior.

Justin | MME Wellness Contributor

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