Int J Sports Med 1994; 15(1): 27-31
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-1021015
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

A Simplified Approach to Estimating the Maximal Lactate Steady State

A. C. Snyder, T. Woulfe, R. Welsh, C. Foster
  • Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Department of Human Kinetics, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
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Publication History

Publication Date:
14 March 2008 (online)


The exercise intensity associated with an elevated but stable blood lactate (HLa) concentration during constant load work (the maximal steady state, MSS) has received attention as a candidate for the “optimal” exercise intensity for endurance training. Identification of MSS ordinarily demands direct measurement of HLa or respiratory metabolism. The purpose of this study was to test the ability of heart rate (HR) to identify MSS during steady state exercise, similar to that used in conventional exercise prescription. Trained runners (n = 9) and cyclists (n = 12) performed incremental and steady state exercise. MSS was defined as the highest intensity in which blood lactate concentration increased <1.0mM from minutes 10 to 30. The next higher intensity workbout completed was defined as > MSS. HR models related to the presence or absence of steady state conditions were developed from the upper 95% confidence interval of MSS and the lower 95% confidence interval of > MSS.

Cross validation of the model to predict MSS was performed using 21 running and 45 cycling exercise bouts in a separate group. Using the MSS upper 95% confidence interval model 84% and 76% of workbouts were correctly predicted in cyclists and runners, respectively. Using the > MSS lower 95% confidence interval model, 76% and 81% of workbouts were correctly predicted in cyclists and runners, respectively. Prediction errors tended to incorrectly predict non-steady state conditions when steady state had occurred (16/26) (62%). We conclude that use of these simple HR models may predict MSS with sufficient accuracy to be useful when direct HLa measurement is not available.