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Do you know the truth about Lactic Acid?--->, FF Insider#108
January 25, 2012
Welcome Back,

Please enjoy another issue packed with evidence-based information about fitness and sports performance training and news about current events at Finish First Sports Performance. If you find value in this e-newsletter, please forward this message to your teammates, coaches, or other parents of hard working athletes so that they, too, may benefit from the information contained herein.

Finish First Sports Performance is the official training/performance coaching provider for the Youngstown Phantoms USHL Hockey Team, the Robert Morris Univeristy NCAA Division 1 Men's Ice Hockey Team, and the Miss Pennsylvania Scholarship Organization.

Inside this Issue:

To bring you the very best information, this newsletter focuses on awareness of the training principles for young athletes, and how to use them to make sure your coach is on the right track. Enjoy!

1. Performance Article I: Does Lactic Acid Really Cause Muscle Soreness?

2. Performance Ariticle II: How to Stay in the Game with a Customized Golf Fitness Training Program

3. Special Announcements

4. Motivational/Inspirational Quote

5. Thank You

The North Face

Performance Article I:

Does Lactic Acid Really cause Muscle Soreness?

By Jeremy S. Hoy,MS, CSCS, NASM, NASE, Performance Scientist

Almost every day I hear coaches and athletes at my gym talking about how sore they are from Lactic Acid, and how bad it is for you to have in your system. As I explain to them the truth about Lactic Acid, it becomes very clear that they have been misguided or misinformed along the way. Due to the increasing amount of questions I have been getting regarding Lactic Acid and exericse, I am going to once again publish this article that I wrote a while back.

So, here it is:

Ask any athlete that has endured some type of intense exercise and you will most likely hear them talking about lactic acid negatively, mentioning such things as intense burn, pain, toxic, lactic acid removal, and muscle soreness among other things.

Most athletes will tell you that muscle soreness that occurs the day after an intense bout of exercise is a result of lactic acid. But, does lactic acid really contribute to muscle soreness? Does it cause the body to shut down during intense exercise?

To help answer these questions, I want to begin with an excerpt from a New York Times article dated May 16, 2006, written by Gina Kolata:

Everyone who has even thought about exercising has heard the warnings about lactic acid. It builds up in your muscles. It is what makes your muscles burn. Its buildup is what makes your muscles tire and give out.

Coaches and personal trainers tell athletes and exercisers that they have to learn to work out at just below their "lactic threshold," that point of diminishing returns when lactic acid starts to accumulate. Some athletes even have blood tests to find their personal lactic thresholds.

But that, it turns out, is all wrong. Lactic acid is actually a fuel, not a caustic waste product. Muscles make it deliberately, producing it from glucose, and they burn it to obtain energy. The reason trained athletes can perform so hard and so long is because their intense training causes their muscles to adapt so they more readily and efficiently absorb lactic acid.

The notion that lactic acid was bad took hold more than a century ago, said George A. Brooks, a professor in the department of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley. It stuck because it seemed to make so much sense.

"It's one of the classic mistakes in the history of science," Dr. Brooks said.

Its origins lie in a study by a Nobel laureate, Otto Meyerhof, who in the early years of the 20th century cut a frog in half and put its bottom half in a jar. The frog's muscles had no circulation — no source of oxygen or energy.

Dr. Myerhoff gave the frog's leg electric shocks to make the muscles contract, but after a few twitches, the muscles stopped moving. Then, when Dr. Myerhoff examined the muscles, he discovered that they were bathed in lactic acid.

A theory was born. Lack of oxygen to muscles leads to lactic acid, leads to fatigue.

Athletes were told that they should spend most of their effort exercising aerobically, using glucose as a fuel. If they tried to spend too much time exercising harder, in the anaerobic zone, they were told, they would pay a price, that lactic acid would accumulate in the muscles, forcing them to stop.

Few scientists questioned this view, Dr. Brooks said. But, he said, he became interested in it in the 1960's, when he was running track at Queens College and his coach told him that his performance was limited by a buildup of lactic acid.

When he graduated and began working on a Ph.D. in exercise physiology, he decided to study the lactic acid hypothesis for his dissertation.

"I gave rats radioactive lactic acid, and I found that they burned it faster than anything else I could give them," Dr. Brooks said.

It looked as if lactic acid was there for a reason. It was a source of energy.

Dr. Brooks said he published the finding in the late 70's. Other researchers challenged him at meetings and in print.

"I had huge fights, I had terrible trouble getting my grants funded, I had my papers rejected," Dr. Brooks recalled. But he soldiered on, conducting more elaborate studies with rats and, years later, moving on to humans. Every time, with every study, his results were consistent with his radical idea.

Eventually, other researchers confirmed the work. And gradually, the thinking among exercise physiologists began to change.

"The evidence has continued to mount," said L. Bruce Gladden, a professor of health and human performance at Auburn University. "It became clear that it is not so simple as to say, Lactic acid is a bad thing and it causes fatigue."

As for the idea that lactic acid causes muscle soreness, Dr. Gladden said, that never made sense.

"Lactic acid will be gone from your muscles within an hour of exercise," he said. "You get sore one to three days later. The time frame is not consistent, and the mechanisms have not been found."

The understanding now is that muscle cells convert glucose or glycogen to lactic acid. The lactic acid is taken up and used as a fuel by mitochondria, the energy factories in muscle cells.

Mitochondria even have a special transporter protein to move the substance into them, Dr. Brooks found. Intense training makes a difference, he said, because it can make double the mitochondrial mass.

It is clear that the old lactic acid theory cannot explain what is happening to muscles, Dr. Brooks and others said.

Yet, Dr. Brooks said, even though coaches often believed in the myth of the lactic acid threshold, they ended up training athletes in the best way possible to increase their mitochondria. "Coaches have understood things the scientists didn't," he said.

Through trial and error, coaches learned that athletic performance improved when athletes worked on endurance, running longer and longer distances, for example.

That, it turns out, increased the mass of their muscle mitochondria, letting them burn more lactic acid and allowing the muscles to work harder and longer.

Just before a race, coaches often tell athletes to train very hard in brief spurts.

That extra stress increases the mitochondria mass even more, Dr. Brooks said, and is the reason for improved performance.

And the scientists?

They took much longer to figure it out.

"They said, 'You're anaerobic, you need more oxygen,' " Dr. Brooks said. "The scientists were stuck in 1920."

So, it seems that the key to being able to perform longer at higher intensities is increasing the ability of the mitochondria to use the lactate produced as energy. High intensity conditioning, including sprinting, interval training, sled training, etc. can all help in this area.

What about the delayed soreness?

As mentioned in the article, any excess lactic acid or lactate accumulation in the blood is removed within one hour after exercise. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is more of a result of damaged muscle and connective tissues from the previous workout.

Does Lactic Acid get produced with general aerobic activity?

Remember, lactic acid is only present when more lactate is being produced than can be utilized. Lactate is produced under normal (rest) conditions in the human body, but is produced more significantly as a result of the breakdown of stored sugars (glycogen) in the liver and the muscles during anaerobic activity. With aerobic activity, the process of breaking down the stored sugars produces pyruvate, which is then converted and used to produce ATP for more exercise. Research has shown that during normal aerobic activity/exercise, there is lactate production, but the rate of production is equivalent to the rate of removal/usage so there is no accumulation—that changes during more intense exercise. Since lactic acid is the acidic form of lactate, and is typically only present when there is an excess accumulation of lactate, it is not produced with general aerobic activity (according to research).

Does Lactic Acid shut down the body?

Research has shown that the exercise science community is split down the middle with yes and no answers to this one. Some claim that it is the excess accumulation of lactic acid in the blood that causes the muscles to shut down by interfering with muscle contraction processes and interfering with the efficiency of the enzymes involved in energy production (Siff 2003, p. 72). Other scientists suggest the body shutting down during intense exercise is a result of acidosis, which is caused by entirely different processes (you can google acidosis and exercise if you’re interested in learning more).

Much debate still exists as to the exact cause of delayed onset muscle soreness and to the exact cause of the body shutting down from intense exercise. As more information becomes available, expect to find out about it here. Stay tuned for more great information in future newsletter issues!

Sources: New York Times, May 16, 2006 Facts and Fallacies of Fitness, Mel Siff, 2003

Performance Article II:

How to Stay in the Game with a Customized Golf Fitness Training Program

By Brandon Monin, MS, CSCS, TPI CGFI, Performance Scientist

Do you suffer from nagging injuries? Or maybe you worry about not being able to golf, as you get older.

Golf fitness training will allow you to minimize your risk of injury, help correct imbalances that may be causing nagging injuries, and keep you golfing for years to come.

How does a golf fitness-training program decrease the risk of injury?

A proper training program is designed specifically to address the needs of each individual. These needs could include correcting imbalances that are causing pain or nagging injuries, or strengthening areas of the body that may be weak and susceptible to injury.

Strengthening the muscles around the joints will provide more support and stability to your body. The added strength around the joints will provide the support you need to handle the repetitive stressors that golfing may cause.

Stretching and becoming more mobile is also a big part in a golf fitness training program and essential for limiting the risk of injury. A proper golf specific warm-up, executing exercises through and full range of motion, as well as a proper post workout stretching routine are what are needed in everyone’s golf fitness training program.

This will help to unlock your joints, increase mobility, and decrease any faults you may be having in your swing… ultimately allowing for a more consistent, accurate swing, and ensuring that you won’t be sitting out this season with any injuries.

Both strengthening and stretching will correct any imbalances or overuse issues that you could be having. Imbalances could include a weak muscle that is underused, or a tight one that’s overused.

With imbalances present in your body you could be increasing your chances of becoming injured and/or not reaching your full potential on the course.

Golf is a repetitive sport, meaning that to play you use the same basic motion every time you hit the ball. This repetition can lead to the problems that I have discussed above. So don’t wait until you’re injured and it’s too late.

Stay in the game by getting ahead of the game and start a golf specific fitness training program today!


  • Great News!!! We have secured our second sports performance training facility location---inside the Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Arena (PISA), in Harmarville/Cheswick area. Information about PISA, including directions and a map, can be found at Equipment has been ordered and we are awaiting its arrival. It is our goal to be up and running by the end of February or early March. Keep checking back in with us, and checking our website for updates about the facility and our Grand Opening Celebration!
  • Still a really Hot Item!...Get your Finish First Sports Performance apparel with the new hockey available dry-fit performance shirts at our store Online Store.
  • We still have a limited quantity of the World Famous FF New Era logo flex fit hats... If you do not have one of these fashionable hats and want one, stop by the gym and pick one up!
  • The 2012 Finish First Sports Performance Elite Hockey Camp featuring Jay Caufield and Rick Tocchet, is tentatively scheduled for Monday, July 30, through Saturday, August 4, 2012. Please mark your calendar and start preparing for this year's camp. There will be some changes to the format and daily schedule. Keep checking back for more details as they become available.
  • Finish First Sports Performance is still making progress on relocating the original World-Class training facility in Robinson...we are close to making a deal that would give us the opportunity to move into a larger space, and still remain the Robinson/Neville area. Stay tuned as we provide updates on this.

Motivational Quote

“For SUCCESS, you must decide what exactly you want to achieve, then specify the price to pay to get it.”
-- Bunker Hunt

Thank You for Your Support

Thanks again for subscribing to this free e-newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I look forward to your feedback as I continue to research to bring you the most current scientific training information available.

Should you have any specific article requests or questions, email me at Please visit for detailed sports performance training information and programs offered exclusively by Finish First Sports Performance.

Yours In Training,

Coach Jeremy S. Hoy, MS, CSCS, PES, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

Finish First Sports Performance

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