Every athlete must eventually face the buildup of lactic acid in muscle tissues. Know your enemy and arm yourself with the right strategies to delay the buildup and enhance recovery!
WHAT IS LACTIC ACID?
Lactic acid or “lactate” is a waste product produced by your muscles during exercise. Technically, it’s a compound that forms when sugar (glucose) is broken down for energy. During most aerobic exercise, lactic acid is readily cleared from your muscles, but high intensity anaerobic workouts will cause it to accumulate leading to that familiar burning sensation we all know well.
WHY DOES LACTIC ACID ACCUMULATE?
Accumulation occurs when your body produces lactic acid faster than your cardiovascular system can clear it. This environment is brought on by intense resistance training or cardiovascular exercise and is referred to as the anaerobic state
WHAT CAN I DO TO ENHANCE MUSCLE RECOVERY?
It can take from 25 to 75 minutes for lactic acid to fully exit body tissue. Muscles recover best with an active recovery. A low intensity cool-down is a must for every hardcore workout. Lactic acid gets a bum rap because it accumulates at the end of intense exercise so its presence in the body corresponds to muscle fatigue. Post workout muscle soreness has more to do with muscle damage and repair than lactic acid
EAT AND HYDRATE 1-2 HOURS BEFORE STARTING A WORKOUT: This will make sure that your tank of stored muscle fuel (glycogen) and blood sugars are at peak capacity. Combining carbohydrates with small amounts of protein and fat will help the sugars to digest at a reasonable pace without creating spikes in blood sugar.
BEST BETS FOR PRE-WORKOUT SNACKS: 1 bowl of oatmeal, ½ banana, and 2 egg whites; 1 slice of whole -wheat toast, ½ tablespoon peanut butter with ½ cup OJ; 10 almonds and an apple; 1 cup of low cottage cheese topped with a small handful of blueberries.
DRINK 1 CUP OF A CAFFEINATED BEVERAGE 1 HOUR BEFORE EXERCISING: Caffeine is a scientifi cally proven (and legal) performance enhancer. It takes about 1 hour for it to go into full effect. Caffeine promotes fat burning as fuel for a workout, which is a great way to spare those precious sugar stores.
BEST BETS FOR PRE-WORKOUT CAFFEINE: Tea: white or green teas are rich in healing antioxidants and are the least processed of all teas. Coffee: Be sure to add skim or low-fat milk instead of cream.
KEEP A REGULAR WORKOUT SCHEDULE THAT INCLUDES WEIGHT TRAINING: Experienced athletes develop a better tolerance for working out under anaerobic conditions.