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

      Abstract

      Objectives

      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.

      Design

      Validation study.

      Methods

      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.

      Results

      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).

      Conclusions

      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.

      Abbreviations:

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

      Keywords

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