Wait a second!  Why would anyone want to produce lactic acid?

Isn’t that the waste product that you need to flush out of your system or it will make you sore?  Here’s where I want to set the records straight.  Lactic acid production in exercise is a good thing, in fact a great thing, for your overall state of health and fitness.

So what, actually, is lactic acid?  For one, it is not a waste product, and it does not make you sore. Soreness is caused by tiny breaks in your muscles. The truth is, lactic acid is a pure, condensed form of fuel – a kind of power bar — that your body isn’t able to process quickly enough to use for the task at hand.  As soon as your body catches a break, so to speak, it goes to work feeding this high-octane fuel to your organs and muscles, which gain from its rich ingredients.

No doubt about it, the health benefits of lactic acid are huge.  First, your body uses extra calories for as long as six hours after you stop exercising, just to process the stuff.  Once absorbed, lactic acid acts to firm up your muscles and increase your aerobic capacity.  In subsequent workout sessions, your body gets better and better at processing this excess fuel, and you gain athletic stamina and a higher metabolic rate.  Also, your heart and lungs are now able to send more oxygen through your veins to get rid of fat (which needs a good supply of oxygen to be burned as fuel).  Last but not least, the more you “feel the burn” during exercise, the more growth hormone (HGH) – an almost magical substance that helps keep us youthful – your body will make.  So: cook up some nice, fresh lactic acid during your workout and you’re on your way to becoming your dream “lean, mean, fat burning machine!”

Let’s take one more look at lactic acid’s many body-slimming benefits: 

1. Your body uses extra calories to absorb lactic acid.

2. Every workout session triggers a lengthy post-exercise calorie burn-off, melting away extra calories for hours after you stopped exercising.

3. Once lactic acid is absorbed into your muscles, they become firmer and stronger, increasing your metabolic rate.

4.  Your body develops “lactic-acid tolerance”, or the ability to work longer before your muscles give out.  This added stamina enables you to work harder during exercise, burning more and more calories along the way.

5. Your body gains aerobic capacity, making it both more efficient at burning fat during exercise (Remember, your body needs oxygen to burn fat).

6. Lactic acid stimulates your endocrine system to produce our bodies’ own natural anti-aging serum, human growth hormone, staving off the withering effects of aging and keeping your metabolic rate high.

Interval training helps us produce this totally natural weight loss product. With interval training, you can work above your “lactic acid threshold,” the point at which your muscles become so fatigued they give out, for brief intervals!  After each “full-out-effort” set, you work at a slower pace to give the lactic acid a chance to work its way though your system.  Then onto another intense, “feel-the-burn until-you-drop” interval.  Your body virtually explodes with energy in the heat of these intense, go-for-broke moments.  Your muscles draw energy from every source available, namely the fat and carb stores under your skin and in your belly, and also from within your muscles themselves.

This incredibly intense way of working out generates a huge quantity of lactic acid.  In contrast, on a run you have no choice but to stay at or slightly below your “lactic acid threshold.”  Pit interval training against long distance running in a lactic acid making contest, and minute for minute, interval training wins hands down. Read more about new findings on interval training here.

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8 replies
  1. Sherry Verne
    Sherry Verne says:

    I enjoyed reading this article about lactic acid and think that maybe this explains why the Bar Method dvd workout is so helpful to me.

    I’ve been struggling with chronic fatigue, particularly since entering menopause, and have had difficulty finding a workout that really helps. I tried Curves because it was close by (no Bar Method Studio near my home)… but was often “too tired” to go to the gym. Recently I purchased the new DVD “Change Your Body” and it really is working. I like that I can do it in my living room. Also the pace is wonderful! I do feel the “burn” but also enjoy the immediate stretch after each challenge. I’ve been able to pace myself and gradually work up to more intensity. I was surprised to notice, after about 8 or 9 workouts, not only that my body does feel more toned, but also that I’m waking up with more energy, and beginning to drop excess weight without changing my diet (which is already pretty healthy).

    More ENERGY is the big thing for me. Do you have any special tips for people doing this workout who have chronic fatigue?

    Thanks – Sherry V.

  2. Mimi Fleischman
    Mimi Fleischman says:

    I asked Burr to give me her thoughts. She said that after reaching the age of 30 years old, humans lose an average of 1/2 lbs of muscle mass every year if they don’t exercise. Bar Method is the best workout available to increase your muscle mass. By increasing muscle mass, you increase your metabolic rate which means you’re burning more calories per minute and have more energy. Muscle mass is therefore an essential ingredient in resolving chronic fatigue syndrome. Burr’s advice to those who suffer from that syndrome is to stick with the workout even when they’re feeling fatigued, when at all possible. The highly targeted strength work in Bar Method will increase muscle and, along with it, energy levels.
    We thank you so much for your feedback and sharing your interesting story. Good luck on your workouts!

  3. astrid
    astrid says:

    I just wondered what exercise the students were doing in the bottom picture? (holding on the bar and raising leg in air), I have a bar at home so I’d like to incorporate your class moves as there is no Bar Method studio in Denver, that I’m aware of. Thanks for your help!

  4. Mimi Fleischman
    Mimi Fleischman says:

    The name of the exercise represented in the picture is round-back. Burr tells me that we offer it only in our studio classes because maintaining good form in this exercise is important. The purpose of round back is to taper and slim the upper legs, stretch the lower back, and flatten the abs. Burr does not recommend doing the exercise at home until you take a Bar Method class where you will learn the correct form.

    The good news is that there is a Boulder Bar Method studio in development and it is likely that there will be a Denver Bar Method studio soon. Thanks for your question.

  5. Jodi Conroy
    Jodi Conroy says:

    I was also diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome among other things and when I discovered The Bar Method, I had reached my breaking point with doctors. Truly, The Bar Method was the first and only thing I had done that made me feel better. Now after doing it for years, I very rarely have symptoms anymore. I have so much more energy and I am sick so much less than I was before. I hope that it helps you as much as it helped me. Just thought I would share.

  6. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    I LOVE that burn that comes with lactic acidosis! In fact,sometimes there is such a surge of it that I briefly feel nauseated (which is how I know I am getting a great workout!) I am a physician and can say that physiologically the Bar Method is as sound a form of exercise I have ever done. 4 classes a week= guaranteed changed body starting in 5-6 weeks! And the secret is lactic acidosis! I love it!

  7. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    Wow…I have always been told that lactic acide in the muscles was a bad thing. So glad I found this article by Burr to explain the facts. I LOVE my bar classes and can relax now with the lactic acid build up. Thanks Burr!!!

  8. fitness
    fitness says:

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    to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do so!
    Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, very great article.


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