Lactic Acid Is Your Friend

"Slow down! I have too much lactic acid built up in my legs, and I can't run any faster!" You've most likely heard this, or something similar to it at some point in your training career. And like most people, you probably accepted the notion that the L word limits performance. But is lactic acid really the bad guy? Is it the byproduct that inhibits what you can do on the track or in the gym? The answer appears to be no. Thanks to the work of George A. Brooks, professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, the once-believed theory behind lactic acid and its accompanying workout inhibition has been debunked; in fact, a number of other researchers investigated Brooks' new-found theory, and they confirmed his findings. Could it be? Lactic acid is actually your friend? That seems to be the case. It has now been shown that lactic acid is a source of fuel, and it helps the body during bouts of exercise; without it, your training actually suffers. When you're performing an intense workout, your body, via the cell's mitochondria, takes up lactic acid and turns it into energy to help further drive performance. So what's the limiting factor that makes you slow down or stop performance? Hydrogen ions and a decrease in cellular pH, which increases bodily acidity. As the body heightens its level of work output, it simply cannot buffer the excess ions. This is the reason extended bouts of intense running or lifting suffers. So the next time you "feel the burn" which causes you to cease further effort, don't blame lactic acid; instead, thank lactic acid for giving you a little more time before the muscle fatigue sets in.