Find Your Lactate Threshold With These 3 Max Effort Tests

There are many different ways to find your Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR).  Below are 3 ways you can find yours depending on your fitness level.

Trench Sports - Lactate Threshold Heart Rate

3x5 Max Effort

Finding your Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR) by using this 3x5 Max Effort is great for beginners who haven't worked their way up to long distances yet, or athletes who intend on sticking with shorter 5k or 10k distance races.

After warming up for 10-15 minutes you will run at your maximum effort for 5 minutes, monitoring your heart rate throughout.  Repeat this process two more times with a full recovery of 5-10 minutes in between. Your average heart rate during those three 5 minute max sustained efforts is your LTHR.

Your pace throughout the entire 5 minutes should be consistent, you should end at minute 5 the same as you began at minute 1.  Also, keep in mind the terrain that you are running on; hills, trails, etc. will put a lot of different variations in your heart rate.  Try to perform this test on as level ground as possible.  A track is great, treadmill is even better.  Remember, consistency is key.

Trench Sports - Lactate Threshold Heart Rate

20 Minute Max Effort

With this 20 Minute Max Effort you will be finding your Lactate Threshold Heart Rate after about 30 minutes of running.  You should be at a level where you feel comfortable enough running that you can consistently hold a steady pace for the duration of those 30 minutes.  Here's the breakdown...

This one will be starting out with a 10-15 minute warm up. After that, we will begin a 30 minute run. The first 10 minutes of this run you will be slowly building to your maximum sustained effort. The last 20 minutes of your run you will be holding your max effort consistently while monitoring your heart rate throughout. Your average heart rate at this maximum sustained effort over those final 20 minutes is your LTHR.  

Again, consistency is the key, minute 30 should end at the same pace that minute 11 began.  It may take a few tries to know exactly where your pace is but the goal is to feel that you are completely done at minute 31, you couldn’t run a minute more if you tried.

Trench Sports - Lactate Threshold Heart Rate

60 Minute Max Effort

This method is performed the same as the 20 Minute Max Effort, 10-15 minute warm-up, but instead of 20 minutes at your maximum sustainable effort, here you will do 60 minutes of your maximum sustained effort. Your average heart rate over the course of those 60 minutes will be your LTHR.

This test is designed for more elite runners who are able to keep a steady pace for 60 minutes.  If you don’t feel that you are there yet, stick with the 3 x 5 or 20 Minute Max Effort until you have built up your endurance enough to be confident that you can accurately perform this test.

If you are new to running start out with the 3x5 Max Effort test but if your goal is to cover longer distances like a marathon, retest your self as your fitness improves and work your way up to the 60 Minute Max Effort when you are ready.  Don't be afraid to test yourself several times in the beginning, it may take a few tries to find your pace.