Constant Tension, Lactic Acid, and Muscle BurnJun 21, 2022
Photo Credit: Rafael Classen
Lactic acid doesn’t cause muscle burn here’s why:
At roughly 30% of maximal muscle tension, peripheral blood flow is significantly occluded resulting in increasing hypoxia within the blood (less oxygen availability) as time under tension increases.
During constant tension exercises like split squats:
- ATP is converted to ADP + phosphate + free hydrogen ions
- The hydrogen ions have a positive charge and build up in the blood as the high-energy phosphate bonds are continually broken to fuel the muscle contractions
- Hydrogen ion build-up, NOT lactic acid, is the cause of metabolic acidosis and therefore muscle burn during constant tension sets.
During walking lunges:
- Blood flow is intermittently only very briefly occluded from muscle tension
Benefits of constant tension training:
- Lower load required (think deload, rehab setting, hotel gym with small dumbbells)
- Hormonal increases.... maybe (IGF-1, GH, MTOR, etc)
Downsides of constant tension training:
- Less mechanical load (not the ideal stimulus to improve maximal strength)
- More peaks and valleys in blood pressure
- Painfully difficult when performed correctly
- Constant tension training doesn’t build up lactic acid
- Constant tension training can be an effective training stimulus, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket
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