Comparison of Lactate and Electromyographical Thresholds After an Exercise Bout


The electromyographical threshold (EMGT) has been previously validated as a means to predict the work rate at which lactate threshold (LT) occurs. The reliability of these measures has yet to be examined after a bout of exercise. The purpose was to determine the agreement between electromyography (EMG) and LT after a 30-minute bout of steady-state aerobic exercise. Participants completed 2 graded exercise tests (GXT) on a cycle ergometer separated by 30 minutes of steady-state exercise. Blood lactate was measured the last 45 seconds of each stage during both GXTs, whereas EMG of the vastus lateralis was monitored continuously. Individual agreement demonstrated that pre-exercise and post-exercise LT occurred at the same work rate in 2 of 10 participants, whereas EMGT occurred at the same work rate in 6 of 10 participants. Results showed no mean difference between work rates for LT or EMG threshold for the pre-exercise GXT, but LT was significantly lower (p < 0.01) than EMGT during the post-exercise GXT. Post-GXT LT work rates were also determined to be significantly lower than pre-GXT LT (p = 0.034), whereas no differences existed in EMG thresholds. Although both LT and EMGT testing may display similar properties, they are not interchangeable. The physiological responses to increasing exercise intensity between La and EMG signaling seem to be associated, and their interaction may not be cause-effect. Because of poor individual agreement, caution should be used when determining LT through the use of EMG. Further research is needed to determine the ability of these 2 metrics to prescribe training intensities.

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Journal of strength and conditioning research