Lactate Tolerance Training

Lactate tolerance training will help you to recover more quickly from successive bursts of speed and power. It will increase your tolerance to lactic acid and allow you maintain a high work rate for longer.

This type of training could also be called speed endurance, anaerobic endurance or power endurance.

In competitive sports such as basketball, hockey and racquetball, there is nothing more discouraging than trying to perform the most basic of skills when your muscles are flooded with lactic acid. During a multi-sprint games players are frequently required to make explosive runs or sprints consecutively, without rest. Receiving a pass or trying to make a shot in this exhausted state is often the last thing they want.

While lactate tolerance training is very demanding it can also have the greatest impact on your performance. It is a great confidence booster to feel fresh and alert when players around you are struggling to keep up!.

In an annual conditioning plan, lactate tolerance training often starts midway through the pre-season. It’s best not to start back from a closed season break with this type of training because it is so intense. A more effective approach is to first build an aerobic base with continuous training or interval training.

During the in-season the objective is to maintain the level of conditioning you build up in the pre-season. This can usually be achieved purely through competitive games but you may want to add in a session or two during the week.

Sample Lactate Tolerance Training Drills

These drills are very demanding in their nature. They are designed to produce high levels of lactic acid so the body becomes more tolerant to it and able to remove it more efficiently. Perform any skill/tactical or speed and agility work before these drills and don’t perform other demanding conditioning drills in the same session.

A typical session might include 30 minutes work in total (including the rest periods in between sets). This may only consist of one or two drills at most. You should be thoroughly warmed up before moving on to these drills.

Note: Lactate tolerance training is less effective when a ball for example, is involved because it hinders maximal effort.

Drill #1 – Sprint & Back
Face a partner standing 20 meters/yards away. This player acts as a feeder. Sprint towards the feeder from the starting position; play a controlled pass, throw or shot, then turn and sprint back to the start. Repeat for 60 seconds and change positions. Complete 5 times each. This is one set. Rest for 2 minutes and repeat for a total of 2-3 sets.

The feeder should move on the spot rather than standing still. They should also serve the pass to the working player when they are about 5 meters/yards away.

Drill #2 – Shuttle Runs
Place 5 cones out 10 meters/yards apart. Starting on cone 1, run to cone 2 and back, then cone 3 and back, 4 and back, then 5 and back. The sprint should be flat out and with emphasis on sharp turns. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat. Rest another 30 seconds and repeat for a third time. This is one set. Rest for 2 minutes with active recovery such as walking. Complete a total of 3-5 sets.

Note: This is a very simple but very effective drill. After the very last shuttle of the very last set take your pulse for 3 minutes while you walk around to recover. Make a note after minute 1, minute 2 and minute 3 to see how quickly it comes down. If you perform this drill just once per week, you’ll notice after several weeks how much quicker your pulse rate starts to fall. Proof that you are becoming fitter and fitter!

Drill # 3 – Progressive Shuttles 

Lactate tolerance training - shuttles

An excellent variation on classic shuttles! Set out 5 cones 10 meters/yard apart. Look at the diagram below. Starting on cone 1, jog to cone 4 then immediately sprint to cone 5. Turn and jog to cone 3 and then sprint to cone 1. Turn and jog to cone 2 and sprint to cone 5. Finally, turn immediately and sprint to cone 1. Rest for 60 seconds and repeat 3-5 times. This is one set. Complete 2-3 sets.

Drill #4 – Union Jacks

Latate tolerance training - diagonals

Mark out an area of approximately 50yards/meters by 50yards/meters. Starting at one corner, sprint diagonally across the square to the opposite corner. Immediately turn and sprint halfway along one side. Jog the rest of the way down this side of the square. Turn and sprint diagonally to the opposite corner. Now, turn and sprint halfway along this side of the square, then jog back to the start position. This is one set. Rest for 2 minutes with active recovery. Compete 4-6 sets.