Ever wondered why some training programmes work for some athletes and not for others? Why some people are genetically gifted athletes? Why there is a fixed set of intervals for all athletes? Why certain drugs work for some and not others? Do compression socks work? What the hell does a VO2 max test tell you, is it just useless information? Is lactate friend or foe? I delve into the sport science world and try to find the answers to train smarter and hopefully become a better athlete. This page is written in my own thoughts and words with a cross-pollination from several other sites and links to the original articles. Some of it might sound like a rant but it is written to make you think. So if you read it without a open mind then your in the wrong place. Enjoy and open your mind.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lactate Balance Point – LBP

The majority of physiologist and athletes reading this article will think these ideas are crazy, if you think so come back in 10 or 15 years and read these ideas again. Read this article and the links, understand why, and you may have found a better tool for threshold testing.


At first it may look similar to a normal Lactate Threshold (LT) test, ventilatory test or anaerobic threshold. But it is different. LBP is a assessment for fitness training levels. The LBP is simply lactate in balance at a certain level, there is no increase in the lactate level and no decrease. It is the area where the body if the ECGM (CGM) is correct reaches its weakest point. LBP, originally developed over 20 years ago has been researched and field tested over the last several years by FaCT with hundreds of repeatable results.

The LBP assessment is different, in that the bodies Lactate Balance Point is more easily and accurately found than using traditional sometimes misinterpreted Threshold Tests.

Diet influence on traditional LT test
Diet influence on LBP test
We need to look at lactate as a bio marker of fatigue and an indicator of energy stores. Lactate is highly influenced by what you eat, as lactate responds to glucose which will affect lactate levels. The LBP assesment is hardly affected by what is eaten but glycogen stores can mess up the traditional LT step test curve. This can be proven completing a traditional LT test carbo loaded and then repeated being carbo depleted (protein loaded). So the theory that (Mader) 4 mmol is anaerobic threshold is blown out of the water with this in mind. It would be like saying every person has a max heart rate of 220 minus their age. So looking for 4 mmol will not be accurate as there are other factors involved. Just because you had x mmol of lactate at x heart rate in a test does not mean that x mmol will always indicate threshold. 

The traditional LT test is based on a objective protocol based upon wattage normally 20 watt step increases, for some people 20 watts is to much at some point which will lead to a too big jump in heart rate which will mean a large part of the heart rate range may be missed, this big jump will also lead to a 'jump' in lactate which will falsely indicate threshold. Lactate is always present in the human body even at rest and will increase linear as heart rate increase (Connet et al circa 1984). The LBP assessment follows physiological parameters where heart rate is increases by 5 to 10 beat and the balance point is not missed. LBP will normally be lower than what you get from a LT test and this is because LBP test give you the point of the weakest link, with a LT test you are getting the point where the test has overstepped the bodies (weakest point) limit and the bodies ability to handle the metabolic process in the muscle.

Anaerobic threshold does not exist! There is no proof or evidence that muscle would go anaerobic during intense or max workouts. Research is showing that oxygen may actually be higher during all out exercise than lower intensity’s (Connett, Gayeski, Saltin). Lactate is used as a fuel and may especially at higher intensity be a preferred fuel source (Brooks and Dubouchaud).

The above were some of the reasons for the development of the Lactate Balance Point assessment.


A brief explanation of the test. The body is warmed up gradually with a step increase of 10 to 20 watts every 3 minutes upto a perceived exertion (Pe) of 7 to 8 (about 15 min). No lactate is taken during the step test, only at the end of the 3 min where Pe 7/8 is found, SpO2 is also taken (oxymeter). This is the only part that resembles a traditional step test and is only done to warm the body up and get lactate raised, ready for the actual assessment. There is absolutely no need to take lactate before Pe 7/8 or any need to take the athlete to max which will tell you nothing about his LBP (or threshold if you really wanted to call it that).

Now drop the wattage by 50% and continue without rest. This is where protocol stops and physiology reaction assessment starts. Take lactate and SpO2 after 3 min at 50% wattage, continue at 50% until you have the lactate reading and decide if or how fast the lactate and heart rate has dropped from the Pe 8 reading, whether to continue on 50% for another minute.

LBP test with LBP at 155 bpm
If there was a big drop go to the next step immediately if a slow drop in lactate and heart rate stay another minute. To go to the next step increase wattage until HEART RATE increases by 5 to 10 beats, after 3 minutes take lactate and SpO2 again stay at the current HR and wait for the Lactate result, if not dropping wait another minute if lactate is dropping increase HR by 5 to 10 beat again, continue this until lactate stops dropping and there is a increase in lactate. When there is a increase you have your balance point.

Using this method less lactate strips are used. (to know how much to increase wattage for the 5 to 10 beat increase use the initial step test to Pe 8 as a guide on wattage/hr increases). What a lot of coaches and physiologist find hard to accept with this test is that there is no protocol, that steps can be be prolonged, and that the test follows physiological parameters, we have to look at how the body reacts and have to think during the test. Read the articles on FaCT test system and what is LBP test.

Instead of wattage perceived exertion or speed can be used as a guide for increasing HR.  The SpO2 reading is used to get information on the blood situation and can be used as a guide for finding LBP in combination with lactate. This is the basic assessment to find the LBP, for zoning a later article will be written.


  1. Can you provide an exame how one would apply a FaCT test to actual training? Or provide a link to FaCT's web site with more information?

    I just recently did a LBP test and like to learn more about how to apply this information. I'm not really sure how to do this since the balance point is much lower than my previous training level. So, I'm confused.

  2. LBP is not the same as a lactate threshold test which gives you threshold. The problem with the threshold test is that it is possible to overestimate the threshold point and often there is some guess work involved. The turning point for threshold is often given after lactate has accumulated which is past the body’s critical point. The LBP metabolic test gives this at the accumulation area which is why it might be lower or higher than previous test.

    LBP test is one of many markers to find your weak spot in your system. To get a complete picture you need to ideally look at the respiratory system, cardiac and muscular system as a whole. What you have to look at then is where what system is weak, and at what point. Once we know what is the weakness and is creating the critical point we can figure out how to train the weaknesses. The downside of the whole FaCT LBP testing is that there is so much information and so many individual cases that sometimes it can be hard to say this is how we should train your weakness. But this is what makes it so interesting. To make the most of the results you would need to retest every 6-8 weeks to see if the training you have been doing works and if you need to rethink things and take a new approach.

    Example you found out that your cardiac system is a limiting factor x beats before LBP, you then train around or just below x beats to strengthen this weakness. As a guide LBP – 10 beats seems to be the best way to train the LBP as you are training your weaker systems before they get critical. It is just below the stress point. But this is where the cardiac and respiratory testing comes in as you could have other systems that show changes well before LBP and these would also need to be looked at if it needs to be trained at a lower level.

    Here some links for further reading:

    http://www.fact-canada.com Here you can find links to the forum and test centers where you could get more in depth testing.

    http://www.fact-canada.com/cgi-local/discus/discus.cgi This is the forum website from FaCT, it has a lot of information which I have tried to summarize on my blog. The Forum goes a lot more in depth.

    http://fact-education.com/ for courses to learn the test system.

    Hope this helps, come back if you have more questions or post them on the FaCT forum.

  3. Interesting history on the development of lactate testing: http://www.fact-canada.com/discus/messages/13/6837.html?1320421468

  4. looks like Juerg has debunked the idea of LBP