Original research| Volume 25, ISSUE 8, P696-701, August 2022

Download started.


Comparison of different test protocols to determine maximal lactate steady state intensity in swimming



      This study compared step test, lactate minimum (LM) test and reverse lactate threshold (RLT) test protocols with maximal lactate steady state (MLSS) in free-swimming. All test protocols used fixed duration increments and high work-rate resolution (≤ 0.03 m·s−1) to ensure high sensitivity.


      Validation study.


      23 swimmers or triathletes (12 male and 11 female) of different ages (19.0 ± 5.9 yrs) and performance levels (400 m personal best 1.38 ± 0.13 m·s−1, FINA points 490 ± 118) completed an incremental step test (+0.03 m·s−1 every 3 min) to determine speed at 4 mmol·L−1 and at modified maximal distance method, a LM test, a RLT test and two to five 30 min tests (±0.015 m·s−1) to determine MLSS. Following a 200 m all-out and a 5 min rest, LM was determined during an incremental segment (+0.03 m·s−1 every 2 min) as the nadir of the speed-lactate curve. After a priming segment with four increments (+0.06 m·s−1), RLT was determined as the lactate apex during a reverse segment (−0.03 m·s−1) every 3 min.


      The mean differences (± limits of agreement) to speed at MLSS were +1.0 ± 4.1% (speed at 4 mmol·L−1), +1.5 ± 3.5% (modified maximum distance method), −0.2 ± 4.7% (LM) and 2.0 ± 3.1% (RLT). All threshold concepts showed good agreement with MLSS pace (intraclass correlation coefficient ≥ 0.886).


      Test protocols with a fixed step duration and fine increments allowed high accuracy in estimating MLSS pace. With similar criterion agreement to the LM and RLT tests, incremental step tests appear more practicable due to less prior knowledge required and derivation of individual training zones.


      LMT (Lactate minimum test), RLT (Reverse lactate threshold)


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Pelarigo J.G.
        • Greco C.C.
        • Denadai B.S.
        • et al.
        Do 5% changes around maximal lactate steady state lead to swimming biophysical modifications?.
        Hum Mov Sci. 2016; 49: 258-266
        • Espada M.C.
        • Reis J.F.
        • Almeida T.F.
        • et al.
        Ventilatory and physiological responses in swimmers below and above their maximal lactate steady state.
        J Strength Cond Res. 2015; 29: 2836-2843
        • Greco C.C.
        • De Oliveira M.F.M.
        • Caputo F.
        • et al.
        How narrow is the spectrum of submaximal speeds in swimming?.
        J Strength Cond Res. 2013; 27: 1450-1454
        • Iannetta D.
        • Ingram C.P.
        • Keir D.A.
        • et al.
        Methodological reconciliation of CP and MLSS and their agreement with the maximal metabolic steady state.
        Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2022; 54: 622-632
        • Espada M.C.
        • Alves F.B.
        • Curto D.
        • et al.
        Can an incremental step test be used for maximal lactate steady state determination in swimming? Clues for practice.
        Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021; 18: 477
        • Dekerle J.
        • Nesi X.
        • Lefevre T.
        • et al.
        Stroking parameters in front crawl swimming and maximal lactate steady state speed.
        Int J Sports Med. 2005; 26: 53-58
        • Jones A.M.
        • Burnley M.
        • Black M.I.
        • et al.
        The maximal metabolic steady state: redefining the ‘gold standard.’.
        Physiol Rep. 2019; 7: 1-16
        • Dotan R.
        Reverse lactate threshold: a novel single-session approach to reliable high-resolution estimation of the anaerobic threshold.
        Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2012; 7: 141-151
        • Nikitakis I.S.
        • Toubekis A.G.
        Lactate threshold evaluation in swimmers: the importance of age and method.
        Int J Sports Med. 2021; 42: 818-824
        • Fernandes R.J.
        • Sousa M.
        • Machado L.
        • et al.
        Step length and individual anaerobic threshold assessment in swimming.
        Int J Sports Med. 2011; 32: 940-946
        • Toubekis A.G.
        • Tsami A.P.
        • Tokmakidis S.P.
        Critical velocity and lactate threshold in young swimmers.
        Int J Sports Med. 2006; 27: 117-123
        • Faude O.
        • Meyer T.
        • Scharhag J.
        • et al.
        Volume vs. intensity in the training of competitive swimmers.
        Int J Sports Med. 2008; 29: 906-912
        • Pelarigo J.G.
        • Fernandes R.J.
        • Ribeiro J.
        • et al.
        Comparison of different methods for the swimming aerobic capacity evaluation.
        J Strength Cond Res. 2018; 32: 3542-3551
        • Papoti M.
        • Da Silva A.S.R.
        • Araujo G.G.
        • et al.
        Aerobic and anaerobic performances in tethered swimming.
        Int J Sports Med. 2013; 34: 712-719
        • Zinner C.
        • Krueger M.
        • Wahl P.
        • et al.
        Comparison of three different step test protocols in elite swimming.
        J Exerc Physiol Online. 2011; 14: 43-48
        • Ribeiro L.
        • Balikian P.
        • Malachias P.
        • et al.
        Stage length, spline function and lactate minimum swimming speed.
        J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2003; 43: 312-318
        • Wahl P.
        • Manunzio C.
        • Vogt F.
        • et al.
        Accuracy of a modified lactate minimum test and reverse lactate threshold test to determine maximal lactate steady state.
        J Strength Cond Res. 2017; 31: 3489-3496
        • Wahl P.
        • Zwingmann L.
        • Manunzio C.
        • et al.
        Higher accuracy of the lactate minimum test compared to established threshold concepts to determine maximal lactate steady state in running.
        Int J Sports Med. 2018; 39: 541-548
        • Wahl P.
        • Manunzio C.
        • Zwingmann L.
        • et al.
        Reverse lactate threshold test accurately predicts maximal lactate steady state and 5 km performance in running.
        Biol Sport. 2021; 38: 285-290
        • Kalva-Filho C.A.
        • Zagatto A.M.
        • Araújo M.I.C.
        • et al.
        Relationship between aerobic and anaerobic parameters from 3-minute all-out tethered swimming and 400-m maximal front crawl effort.
        J Strength Cond Res. 2015; 29: 238-245
        • De Barros Sousa F.A.
        • Rodrigues N.A.
        • Messias L.H.D.
        • et al.
        Aerobic and anaerobic swimming force evaluation in one single test session for young swimmers.
        Int J Sports Med. 2017; 38: 378-383
        • Zwingmann L.
        • Strütt S.
        • Martin A.
        • et al.
        Modifications of the Dmax method in comparison to the maximal lactate steady state in young male athletes.
        Phys Sportsmed. 2019; 47: 174-181
        • Arsoniadis G.G.
        • Nikitakis I.S.
        • Botonis P.G.
        • et al.
        Validating physiological and biomechanical parameters during intermittent swimming at speed corresponding to lactate concentration of 4 mmol.L-1.
        Sports. 2020; 8: 23
        • Bishop D.
        • Jenkins D.G.
        • Mackinnon L.T.
        The relationship between plasma lactate parameters, W(peak) and 1-h cycling performance in women.
        Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998; 30: 1270-1275
        • Chaverri D.
        • Schuller T.
        • Iglesias X.
        • et al.
        A new model for estimating peak oxygen uptake based on postexercise measurements in swimming.
        Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2016; 11: 419-424
        • R Core Team. R
        A language and environment for statistical computing.
        R Foundation for Statistical computing, Vienna, Austria2020
        • Hopkins W.G.
        A scale of magnitudes for effect statistics.
        Sportscience. 2006;
        • Koo T.K.
        • Li M.Y.
        A guideline of selecting and reporting intraclass correlation coefficients for reliability research.
        J Chiropr Med. 2016; 15: 155-163
        • Stockhausen W.
        • Grathwohl D.
        • Bürklin C.
        • et al.
        Stage duration and increase of work load in incremental testing on a cycle ergometer.
        Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1997; 76: 295-301
        • Hauser T.
        • Bartsch D.
        • Baumgärtel L.
        • et al.
        Reliability of maximal lactate-steady-state.
        Int J Sports Med. 2013; 34: 196-199