Six Lies You Were Taught About Lactic Acid

Lie #6: Better Athletes Produce Less Lactic Acid

Some of the world’s best endurance athletes, such as Michael Phelps, appear to produce significantly less lactate during intense exercise than lesser athletes. This makes sense if you believe that lactate is a toxic waste product that causes fatigue and does not help exercise performance in any way. But it doesn’t makes sense in the light of current knowledge about the effects of lactic acid. And it’s also very unlikely to be true.

In all likelihood, the reason there is less lactate in the blood of the likes of Meb Keflezighi and Michael Phelps during intense exercise is not that their muscles produce less, but rather that they use more. If, in the average endurance athlete, 75 percent of lactate is burned in the mitochondria and only 25 percent escapes into the bloodstream, in come very special athletes, perhaps 85 percent of lactate is burned and only 15 percent escapes.

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