Question: How do you increase the body’s ability to burn more fat without increasing your cardio training? Answer: Lactic Acid Training
What is Lactic Acid Anyway?
Lactic acid is the by-product of the anaerobic metabolism of glucose and glycogen during exertion. In other words it’s a chemical process that is produced by the body when we exercise. When we train, our bodies convert glycogen into ATP (Adenosine triphosphate)which is then used as an energy source for our muscles to contract. Once this energy source (along with oxygen) is depleted, the body then resorts to an alternate source of energy; anaerobic energy systems. As those stores are depleted pyruvate is produced, which then turns into hydrogen ions. Their presence creates lactic acid in the muscles. Lactic acid then floods the muscles which creates the “burning feeling” in the muscles. This lactic acid is a built in safety precaution when we remain in an anaerobic state for too long. It helps prevent muscle contractile failure which can lead to injury. But high levels of lactic acid also trigger the body to release more HGH (Human Growth Hormone) which causes the body to build more lean muscle and use excess fat as fuel.
Lactic Acid Training
Generally speaking, Lactic Acid Training involves high caloric expenditures due to shortened rest periods and high work volume. This leads to an elevated heart rate (further increasing energy demands post exercise) which in turn elevates your body’s demand for oxygen even after exercise. All these chemical responses ultimately lead to an increase in metabolic activity.
There really is no one true way to use Lactic Acid Training. But there are still some excellent guidelines you can follow in generating training programs and workouts in order to optimize your endurance or performance. Training programs that are a combination of high volume, maximal steady-state, and interval workouts have the most pronounced effect on lactate threshold improvement.
With my own clients I use a simple reverse pyramid system call a Bit Crusher. It works well with body weight, cable, machine, and free weight exercises. Here is an example:
Warm up: 10 minute walk/light jog
Lactic Acid Training: Perform each exercise for 20 repetitions then hold on the negative portion of the movement for 10 seconds. Immediately perform 18 repetitions then hold on the negative portion of the movement for 10 seconds. Continue to descend on repetitions until you have worked all the way down to 2 repetitions.
(Push Up, Body Weight Squat)
You shouldn't need to do a thousand bicep curls like Ron Burgundy but if the weight you're working with is moderate to light you should be able to hit the 20-30 rep range. As always focus on proper form and, if you need to, don't be ashamed to drop down in weight so that you can hit your target rep range.
This type of training will tax you considerably but the gains you make will be well worth it. So "Feel the burn!"
Bompa, T.O. 1999. Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training, 2nd Ed., Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Robergs, R. A., Ghiasvand, F., Parker, D. (2004). Biochemsitry of exercise-induced metabolic acidosis. American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 287: R502-R516.
Weltman, A. 1995. The Blood Lactate Response to Exercise. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
Brooks, G.A. 2000. Intra- and extra-cellular lactate shuttles. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, 32 (4), 790-799.