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Truth about Lactic Acid: Why it HELPS you Build Muscle

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  • 6 months ago
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Lactic Acid & Fatigue - Study

Study published in The Physician And Sportsmedicine Journal, researchers had volunteers run for 45 minutes on a treadmill, once with it set level and once with it set to go downhill.

They measured the volunteers' blood lactic acid concentration and asked them how sore they were before, during, and at intervals up to 72 hours after the runs.

The volunteers felt the sorest after running downhill, even though that was when their lactic acid levels were the lowest.

Results indicated that lactic acid is not related to exercise-induced delayed-onset muscle soreness.

Muscle Burn is Caused by Lactic Acid

It was once thought that the burning sensation during a heavy lifting session or fast sprint was caused by lactic acid buildup in the muscles.

What’s actually happening when we exercise is as our body breaks down ATP for energy, hydrogen ions are released.

When oxygen to our muscles is limited, our body can’t keep up with breaking down the hydrogen ions fast enough.

The buildup of hydrogen ions makes the environment acidic causing our muscles to burn.

Lactic acid doesn’t actually build up from a technical standpoint but lactate does.

As exercise intensity increases, our bodies rely on glucose to keep up with the demand for energy.

Pyruvate molecules begin to build up along with the hydrogen ions, and the pyruvate absorbs two hydrogen ions and forms lactate

Lactate actually acts as a buffer to the acidic hydrogen ions and without it, the accumulation of hydrogen ions would cause “mechanical failure” in our muscles

Lactic Acid is Wasted and Causes Muscle Fatigue

Research actually indicates that our bodies reuse lactate as a source of energy for our muscles.

It’s estimated that roughly 75% of lactate produced inside the muscle cells is recycled into glucose and used as fuel.

So lactate helps delay muscle fatigue rather than cause it, and during long runs, your muscles lose power by becoming depolarized

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1) James A. Schwane, Bruce G. Watrous, Scarlet R. Johnson & Robert B. Armstrong (1983) Is Lactic Acid Related to Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness?, The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 11:3, 124-131, DOI: 10.1080/00913847.1983.11708485, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00913847.1983.11708485
2) Lactic acid test: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003507.htm
3) Stephen M. Roth. (2006, January 23). Why Does Lactic Acid Build Up in Muscles? And Why Does It Cause Soreness? Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-does-lactic-acid-buil/
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