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Chris Caubarreaux
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Lactic acid is a Bodybuilders friend



Aug 11, 2010
Ok That's four! Good! Two more to go! your training partner commands you.

But you don't know if you can do it.

The pain in your arms is searing and the sensation is traveling to all parts of your body. It?s a pain that's blinding, but you dig deep, really deep. You've got to block it out as this is the money part of lifting weights. This is where all the growth begins.

That all-consuming pain you?re feeling in your muscles as you crank out a Max-OT working set is the accumulation of lactic acid; a by-product of energy production without oxygen.

During intense exercise the demand for energy (adenosine triphosphate, or ATP) exceeds its production; lactic acid accumulates in the muscles, flooding the working area with hydrogen ions. This in-flux of hydrogen ions lowers pH levels to shuts down the chemical reactions that allow muscle fibers to contract.

For these reasons, many strength athletes have been lead to believe that lactic acid is a vile, toxic waste product that should be avoided at all costs. However, new research suggests that the complete opposite maybe correct. In fact, this new research is going to send university professors and lecturers reeling. They'll be scampering back to the blackboard (or whiteboard usually now days),to re-think, and re-write many aspects of energy production that fuels peak athletic performance.

New research has confirmed that lactic acid is an important fuel source that powers intense exercise such as weight lifting. Rather than view lactic acid as something to avoid, strength and power athletes of the future will learn to follow exercise training programs that encourage lactic acid production. This approach will lead to superior performance during exercise and faster recovery after training.

Lactic acid: exactly what is it?

Lactic acid is simply a glucose molecule split in two; an energy producing process that occurs fast, too fast to allow an interaction with oxygen. This anaerobic energy production process is no different to slicing an apple in two; the pieces still contain a lot of usable energy. Lactic acid is a much smaller molecule than glucose, (a tri-carbon molecule as opposed to the 6 carbon glucose ring). Therefore, lactic acid can enter the aerobic energy-production pathway that utilizes oxygen (the Krebs cycle). Ultimately this metabolic process results in much greater production of ATP; the chemical energy that powers muscle contraction.

Previously, all exercise scientists, coaches and trainers alike were taught that the aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) energy systems were two separate entities. Not only were they distinct from each other, they required different training regimes to enhance their efficiency.

Now, a series of studies have confirmed that muscle cells use carbohydrates anaerobically for energy, (producing lactate as a by-product),but then burn the lactate with oxygen to create far more energy. When lactic acid starts to be produced in excess during intense exertion, the aerobic energy cycle steps up dramatically to remove the rapidly accumulating lactate and create more energy.

This research completed at the University of California, Berkeley, confirmed that lactic acid is actually the bridge in energy production that links the two energy producing metabolic cycles; the oxygen-based aerobic metabolism and oxygen-free anaerobic metabolism.

What does this mean to you in your quest to build muscle and strength?

Many bodybuilders, trainers and coaches don't realize that intense aerobic exercise such as Max-OT Cardio teaches the body to use lactic acid efficiently as a source of fuel, almost as efficiently as carbohydrates. When muscles learn how to use lactic acid to produce energy, it not only prevents lactate build-up but also ekes out more energy from the body's other fuel stores. Undoubtedly, this is a training effect that will promote superior performance in the gym and faster recovery after training.

This research underlines the importance of intense aerobic exercise such as Max-OT Cardio to optimize energy production.

Consistent aerobic (cardio) training at a high intensity ensures that muscles learn how to metabolize lactic acid and use it as a fuel source. At the cellular level, regular cardio training increases the number of mitochondria in muscle cells. The mitochondria (often called the powerhouse of the cell),is where lactate and all other fuel sources are metabolized to provide energy.

The reason is that intense cardio exercise generates big lactate loads. In response, the body adapts by increasing mitochondria number and up-regulating the efficiency of the enzymes that metabolize this substrate into energy. Most bodybuilders only perform cardio for a short phase such as prior to a contest or to get in shape for summer. However, this research shows us why a year-round approach to Max-OT Cardio exercise is so important; it not only helps shed fat, it promotes optimal energy production during other forms of intense exercise such as lifting weights in the gym.

Ground breaking research with humans and.?.. dead frogs?

This research stems right back to the 1920s when studies on dead frogs showed that lactate build-up eventually causes muscles to stop working. However, the Berkeley team in the 1980s and '90s showed that in living, breathing animals, the lactate moves out of muscle cells into the blood and travels to various organs, including the liver, where it is burned with oxygen to produce ATP. The heart even prefers lactate as a fuel.

However, Dr. George Brooks, the leader of this research team, always suspected that the muscle cell itself could re-use lactate. In experiments that have been completed over the past 10 years, his team have obtained evidence that lactate is burned inside the mitochondria, via an interconnected network of tubes (like a plumbing system),that reach throughout the cell cytoplasm.

In 1999, for example, these scientists showed that regular cardio training reduces blood levels of lactate, even while muscle cells continue to produce the same amount of lactate. In 2000, these researchers showed that training increased the number of lactate transporter molecules in mitochondria, evidently to speed uptake of lactate from the cytoplasm into the mitochondria for burning; this is often called the ?lactate shuttle?.

This new research demonstrates a direct connection between the transporter molecules, the lactate shuttle, and the enzymes that burn lactate for fuel. In fact, thanks to these scientists its now clear that the cellular mitochondrial network has a complex of proteins that allow the uptake and oxidation (utilization) of lactic acid. The use of lactic acid for fuel effectively links the breakdown of carbohydrates with the production of energy from other fuels (such as fats) that occurs during aerobic energy production.

Rather than view lactic acid as something to avoid, strength and power athletes will benefit from exercise training programs that encourage lactic acid production. This type of training will teach muscles to use lactic acid more efficiency as a fuel during other forms of intense exercise that require repeat bouts of explosive strength and power. Max-OT Cardio is a great example of the type of training required to do this.

Completing Max-OT Cardio on a regular basis will teach your muscles to cope with lactic acid accumulation and efficiently utilize it as a major fuel source. Over time this is likely to ensure faster recovery after training and superior performance during other forms of intense exercise, such as Max-OT weight training.


Jun 11, 2014
This was interesting.

Lactic Acid has burned the hell out of me.