The Basics of Lactate Threshold Interval Training

4. Carve out a 12- to 15-week period where you will perform one lactate threshold interval workout per week. During this time, start with 3 x 5 minutes with 5 minutes of recovery. Add a minute each week to progressively overload lactate threshold volume (e.g., 3 x 6 minutes then 3 x 7 minutes then 3 x 8 minutes etc.). As you reach the last two or three weeks, you should arrive at your goal of 3 x 15 minutes. Also, recovery is very important when it comes to lactate threshold training so insert a rest period every three or four weeks (i.e., no intervals that week).

5. Your total workout time will vary between 60 and 90 minutes. Your early efforts will be closer to 60 minutes because your interval lengths will be shorter. Of course, as you increase the length of your hard efforts, total workout time will increase as well.

More: Power Up With Tempo Intervals

6. Theoretically, you can perform lactate threshold intervals year round; however, I recommend you perform them during the intensity and/or competition phases of a periodized training program. In other words, avoid this workout early in the year while you are building your aerobic and muscular endurance, and use it to help prepare for key events as you approach the competitive season.

More: The 3 Cycles of Periodization Training

7. When performing LT intervals, start by warming up for at least 20 minutes. If you currently compete in criteriums or time trials, use your race warm-up to prepare for this session. After your warm up, ride as hard as you can for the target duration of the interval. Remember to keep your cadence between 85 and 95 rpm, and your heart rate between 98 and 105 percent of your LTHR (95-105 percent of your FTP if you have a power meter). Don't overdo it, especially during the first two minutes! This is a common mistake. Slowly build your effort up to your target heart rate and then hold it for the duration of the interval.

More: High-Intensity Intervals: Hurts So Good

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About the Author

Tyrone Holmes

Tyrone A. Holmes, Ed.D, CPT, is a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise and a Level 2 cycling coach through USA Cycling. He provides Cycle-Max Coaching for cyclists and multisport athletes who want to improve their performance on the bike and Healthy Life Coaching for individuals who want to lose weight and develop healthier lifestyles. His latest book is Developing Training Plans for Cyclists and Triathletes. Visit his website at and his Fitness Corner blog at

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