Lately I’ve been playing around a little bit with threshold training. I’d like to jump deeper into the subject of threshold training in a later post (I started it in a 3am bout of inspiration and energy and just have to finish it. Hopefully NOT at 3am again) but for today I wanted to outline what I did so that you guys can give it a shot.
Simply put, threshold training is training at an intensity close to your lactate threshold. Without getting too science-y your lactate threshold is the point at which lactate (a bi-product of glycolytic metabolism) starts to accumulate in the muscles faster than you can clear it. Interestingly, the lactate threshold is well-correlated with your ventilatory threshold; experienced as that point during intense activity where your breathing becomes “deep and rhythmic”. Lactate threshold is experienced as maybe an 8-9 out of 10 on the rating of perceived exertion scale.
The goal of TT is to improve lactate buffering and pain tolerance by continually exposing yourself to your threshold zone. Over time this can raise your lactate threshold closer to your maximum heart rate. The best endurance athletes have an amazingly high lactate threshold and can sustain that heart rate for very long periods.
Using a modified Cooper’s test, basically 6 minutes all out in a mono structural modality, I determined that my lactate threshold is roughly around 168 BPM. Joel Jamison was pretty confident in stating that the average heart rate during the test correlates pretty well with a scientifically test lactate threshold.
Another interesting factoid is that this appears to be about 89% of my maximum heart rate. Yes, that’s actually possible. One good reason why testing and experience is better than using estimations such as the common “220-age” for maximum heart rate or using generic “percentages of heart rate zones”.
My goal then, for the workout was to get my heart rate up into this range for the duration of the intervals. Here’s what the workout consisted of:
3 rounds total:
3 sets of
15 KB swings (24kg..going for light to moderate weight)
then immediately row 750 M.
Rest 5 minutes.
Round 1: 6:03, AHR-159, row 500M pace 135
Round 2: 6:10, AHR -165, row 500M pace 138
Round 3: 6:08, AHR – 168, row 500M pace 138
RPE for all 3 rounds 7-9
First I wanted to mention that while I was going for a certain heart rate zone I wasn’t using my heart rate to guide me. I pretty much started my monitor and then just did the workout by feel. Then looked at the HR results after each interval.
What should you feel?
This type of workout should feel very hard. When doing it as an interval you should be operating at about 90% effort. You should be going as fast as possible keeping in mind the timeframe (6 minutes in this case) and the rest (5 minutes) and the fact that there’s three work intervals. You want each performance to be matched or faster than your initial performance. In my case I slowed by just a few seconds. An acceptable range to maintain.
As far as the HR range, I was just about on target. The goal is to keep your heart rate in a 5 beats plus or minus window surrounding your lactate threshold. In my case 163-173.
Subjectively each round got harder and harder. After round three I was definitely done. This was a tough workout.
I’ve been doing these maybe once a week or so. They’re very potent and I would give at least a few days rest between each one.
I want to hear from you
Have you played around with threshold training?
Is there something I’m missing or not getting right?
Want to know more about threshold training in relation to firefighter physical training?
Want to know more about the guidelines for creating TT workouts?
Let me know in the comments. Let’s start a discussion!