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Avoiding The Pump: Lactic Acid Info
   
Jacqui's Interview


By: Jacqui Middleton

I did quite a bit of research into the lactic acid issue a year or so ago. A friend of mine asked for a copy of all my info. All the info I have is a bit too much to photocopy, and a bit boring to read, so I summarised it for him. Lucky for you, I kept the summary document. The basic gist of it is that delaying the onset of pump is directly related to two things:

  • Diet
  • Training
     
Toby Pola pushes it hard on Contra Arms Pump grade 30. Photo by Neil Monteith.

Of course factors like finding rests on a climb help as well. This much is obvious. As a result of my research, I have certainly adapted my training regime to specifically work on building up a resistance to getting pumped (though it should be noted that I do not do this consistently. I might work on it for say, 3 months, and then not bother for another 5 months. I consider I'm controlling pump enough to get up the climbs I want to do. When I want to raise the bar a bit, I'll just do more endurance training, I suppose!). And yes, I've certainly noticed a massive benefit in having subscribed to this kind of training. As an example, I specifically remember the first time I ever got up a 26. I considered at the time it felt no harder than 24. Reflecting though, this was towards the end of a 3 month endurance training effort. That same climb now feels quite pumpy :-(

I've attached the summary document for you, which will walk you through the logic of the following conclusion I have reached:
 
During exercise, a chemical called pyruvate combines with the oxygen to form a fuel. In the absence of oxygen, pyruvate becomes lactic acid. Therefore, we need to ensure sufficient levels of oxygen are present for the pyruvate to combine withÖ in order to delay the onset of lactic acid buildup (otherwise known as getting pumped).

Oxygen is transported through the capillaries by hemoglobin. Hemoglobin levels are directly dependant on iron levels. So: Do some long slow exercise, in order to build more capillaries, which will give you the capacity to store more haemoglobin, which transports oxygen. Increase your iron intake, which will increase your hemoglobin levels. Thatís it!

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you will be thrilled to know that eating lots of lentils seems to make you powerful and anti-pump as anything. Yee-hah!
 



http://www.teamoregon.com/publications/energy.html

Aerobic glycogen conversion is the most readily available source of energy and the primary energy source up to about 30 minutes of exercise. After 30 minutes, fat has been mobilized from fat stores and becomes a major contributor.
 
Jacís summary:

In other words, if you are attempting to lose weight, you will need to indulge in exercise spanning stints of more than 30mins, such that fat is burned, rather than just glycogen.


http://my.webmd.com/question_and_answer/article/1676.53084

When glucose is burned for fuel during exercise, it is broken down to a chemical called pyruvate. If you are working at a low enough intensity, sufficient oxygen will be available to easily convert pyruvate to carbon dioxide and water, which are removed by the lungs. When you are working at a very high intensity, however, there is not enough oxygen to convert all the pyruvate to carbon dioxide and water. The result is that some of the pyruvate is converted to lactic acid, which builds up in the muscles and overflows into the bloodstream. Lactic acid causes the ďburningĒ sensation felt in muscles during high intensity exercise and also prevents muscles from working their best.


http://www.teamoregon.com/publications/energy.html

Lactic acid is often thought of as a ďwaste productĒ. In the presence of oxygen, however, it is easily converted to ATP (Adenosine Tri Phosphate) and becomes a fuel.
 
Jacís summary:

The notes above suggest that in order to delay the onset of lactic acid buildup (aka getting pumped), then we need more oxygen.


http://www.brianmac.demon.co.uk/lactic.htm

Given that high levels of lactate/hydrogen ions will be detrimental to performance, one of the key reasons for endurance training is to enable the body to perform at a greater pace with a minimal amount of lactate. This can be done by long steady runs, which will develop the aerobic capacity by means of capilllarisation (formation of more small blood vessels, thus enhancing oxygen transport to the muscles) and by creating greater efficiency in the heart and lungs. If aerobic capacity is greater, it means there will be more oxygen available to the working muscles and this should delay the onset of lactic acid at a given work intensity.
 
Jacís summary:

The notes above suggest that we can develop more oxygen capacity by developing more capillaries. This can be done via activity such as a long slow jog. Perhaps we could substitute this for a long slow lap session on steep juggy terrain.


http://members.ozemail.com.au/~vitality/capillar.html

Capillaries are microscopic vessels that carry blood between the smallest arteries or arterioles and the smallest veins or venules. Capillaries have a diameter of approximately 0.008mm - not much wider than the red blood cells that flow through them, so that the red blood cells carrying oxygen and other nutrients are obliged to pass through them in single file. The capillary walls are permeable to substances such as oxygen, glucose, carbon dioxide and water which can thus move freely between the blood and the tissue fluid that surrounds all cells. In all, the vascular network (of an average person) contains some 10,000 million of these capillaries, which act as go-betweens for the arterial and venous systems. The capillaries are where the important functions of circulation take place : the exchange of material between circulation and cells.
 
Jacís summary:

Red blood cells flow through capillaries.


http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?ArticleKey=5260

Red blood cells are the blood cells that carry oxygen. Red cells contain haemoglobin and it is the haemoglobin which permits them to transport oxygen (and carbon dioxide). Haemoglobin, aside from being a transport molecule, is a pigment. It gives the cells their red color (and their name).
 
Jacís summary:

Red blood cells carry oxygen. Haemoglobin permits the red blood cells to transport oxygen. Thus we need more red blood cells and haemoglobin in order to build more oxygen supplies, which in turn helps delay the onset of getting pumped.


http://sln2.fi.edu/biosci/blood/red.html

Red blood cells perform the most important blood duty. A single drop of blood contains millions of red blood cells which are constantly traveling through your body delivering oxygen and removing waste. If they weren't, your body would slowly die.

Red blood cells are red only because they contain a protein chemical called hemoglobin which is bright red in color. Hemoglobin contains the element Iron, making it an excellent vehicle for transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide. As blood passes through the lungs, oxygen molecules attach to the hemoglobin. As the blood passes through the body's tissue, the hemoglobin releases the oxygen to the cells. The empty hemoglobin molecules then bond with the tissue's carbon dioxide or other waste gases, transporting it away.

Over time, the red blood cells get worn out and eventually die. The average life cycle of a red blood cell is 120 days. Your bones are continually producing new blood cells, replenishing your supply. The blood itself, however, is re-circulated throughout your body, not being remade all of the time.

Since the human body is continually making more blood, it is safe for healthy adults to donate blood. The blood is then stored for use in emergency situations. Initially after giving blood, the donor may feel some momentary lightheadedness due to the loss of oxygen-rich red blood cells and blood sugar. The body quickly stabilizes itself.
 
Jacís summary:

Iron is contained within hemoglobin, which transports oxygen.


http://www.serum-technologies.com.au/pages/hemo.htm

Hemoglobin is contained entirely in the red blood cells, amounting to perhaps 35 percent of their weight. To combine properly with oxygen, red blood cells must contain adequate hemoglobin. Hemoglobin, in turn, is dependent on iron for uts formation. A deficiency of hemoglobin caused by a lack of iron in the body leads to anemia.
 
Jacís summary:

You can increase your hemoglobin by increasing your iron levels.


http://www.hoptechno.com/book29k.htm

Iron is lost in cooking some foods even under the best conditions. To retain iron: .Cook foods in a minimal amount of water. .Cook for the shortest possible time.

Pasta, white rice, and most breads made from refined flours are enriched with iron, because iron is one of the nutrients lost in processing. Other nutrients added to refined flours and pasta are thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin. Enriched products or products made from enriched flour are labeled as such. Minimum and maximum enrichment levels are specified for thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, but only a minimum level of iron is required in farina. Thus, iron enrichment levels for farina vary from brand to brand.

Most ready-to-eat and instant-prepared cereals are fortified with iron. Fortified ready-to-eat cereals usually contain at least 25 percent of the U.S. RDA for iron. Since cereals vary, check the label on the package for the percentage of the U.S. RDA for a specific cereal.

http://www.insightnutrition.com.au/iron.htm

The main source of iron in our diets is usually red meat, but we can get good amounts from some other foods.

Meat - 150 g steak gives us about 4 mg or 25% of the recommended intake for women.

We need about 300 g of fish and 430 g of chicken to get the same amount of iron.

But we only need 40 g of liver or kidney to get 4 mg of iron - or half a dozen oysters, 40 to 50 g of mussels or 130 grams of sardines.

Other reasonable sources include breakfast cereals with iron added, wholemeal bread, seeds and nuts, some dried fruits, lentils and dried beans, Milo, green vegetables.

But we get different rates of absorption of iron from different foods. Iron is much better absorbed from red meat than from plant sources.

We can improve the absorption of iron by:

  • Eating foods rich in Vitamin C at each meal. Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from foods other than meat, by 2 to 3 times.
  • Avoiding excessive amounts of bran, wholegrain cereals, legumes and nuts, as these foods contain phytates which bind with the iron and make the body less able to absorb it.
  • Avoiding large intakes of tea or coffee as polyphenols, tannin and oxalic acid in these foods can reduce the absorption of iron too. Well brewed tea contains more oxalic acid.

What about vegetarians?

Vegetarians can obtain iron from other sources - cereals, nuts, soy products, vegetables and the tendency to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables provides extra vitamin C to improve the absorption. However the iron in some soy products is less available. Miso, tempeh, and tofu have better rates of absorption than soy milk.

 
Jacís summary:

During exercise, pyruvate combines with the oxygen to form a fuel. In the absence of oxygen, pyruvate becomes lactic acid. Therefore, we need to ensure sufficient levels of oxygen are present for the pyruvate to combine withÖ in order to delay the onset of lactic acid buildup (otherwise known as getting pumped).

Oxygen is transported through the capillaries by hemoglobin. Hemoglobin levels are directly dependant on iron levels. So: Do some long slow exercise, in order to build more capillaries, which will give you the capacity to store more haemoglobin, which transports oxygen. Increase your iron intake, which will increase your hemoglobin levels. Thatís it!

 


Further Reading:
Lactic Acid and Pumped Forearms - From the 8a.nu website.

 

 

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