Drop Some Knowledge 3: Pop Quiz Edition

Guess what…


Okay. Just three simple T/F questions for you:

1. True/False?: Lactate is a waste product that is only produced from high intensity exercises and causes muscle damage.

2. True/False?: Coaches should use physical activity as a punishment for undesirable behavior (“You’re late for practice again. You’re going to stay after practice run 2 extra laps.”).

3. True/False?: The major motives for exercise participants continuing in an exercise program or sport are: health factors, weight loss, and fitness.

Know the answers? Can you explain why and justify your answer choices?

I’m sure you all kind of know what the right answer is but may not exactly be able to explain why.

Answers for all of them are FALSE.

I’ll esplain here (and you’re about to find out a butt-load more than you ever wanted to know about these topics):

1. Lactate is a waste product that is only produced from high intensity exercises and causes muscle damage. —> FALSE. [This answer will not be fun unless you’ve taken some human anatomy and physiology courses. You can skip down to number 2 and 3 for sport psychology stuff].

(*Inhale deep breath*!) That part about how lactate is only produced during high intensity exercises is false because lactate is pretty much always present in your body (right now you’re saying, “But Michelle, I’m not sore and I haven’t worked out in a few days!”). Well even at rest, lactate is continuously produced… the thing is that it is also being cleared/removed at the same rate. There is going to be no lactate accumulation, but there is going to be lactate production.

There isn’t even lactate accumulation at low intensity exercises (because the body can still clear it quite rapidly). The lactate production is influenced by several factors (such as anaerobic conditions and muscle fiber type), but I don’t want to get too much into that. Main part of how all the conditions are related to lactate production is in the intensity of the exercise. As exercise intensity increases, the body’s ability to readily utilize oxygen changes, which shifts the products in the body’s energy-making pathways (instead of getting pyruvate from glycolysis, we get more lactate). As lactate production continues to rise without it being cleared fast enough, we get accumulation.

Now you’re saying, “So Michelle, does the lactate itself cause muscle damage? Pain? Is it just a waste product?” No, no, and no. Along with the accumulation of lactate, the concentration of hydrogen ions also increases (hydrolysis of ATP produces H+). It is the acidity that may interfere with muscle contractions or stimulate pain receptors, but it is not the fault of lactate. Also, the accumulation is cleared within an hour of your workout, so the soreness you feel later is not from some extra lactate sitting around (yes, it’s there and being produced, but not accumulated anymore. It’s cleared at the same rate and production by that time). And lactate can actually be used as fuel! It can be oxidized by the heart, skeletal muscle, and converted to glucose by the liver.

So here’s the take-home message: Lactate is not simply a waste product. [This is science behind it now. Who knows, maybe in 15 years, they’ll go back to saying it IS, in fact, the bad guy.]



[^Super awesome pictures from last summer at a RunningAddicts track workout. We were getting the intensity way up! Photo cred: Linh].


2. Coaches should use physical activity as a punishment for undesirable behavior —> FALSE. 

Not sure if you have ever been a coach or if you have been coached where this happened to you. As a high schooler, I came to my tennis practice about 10 minutes late one time (14 years old, had to talk to the teacher about something, wasn’t quick enough to get changed and then I was late). The coach made me run 2 laps around the track for being late.

“Umm, coach… that’s like… half a mile!!!” I say.

“That’s right. Now go hustle. You’re already behind!” he says.

I’m sure he had the best of intentions. He wanted me to see that I had to always be on time and that being late was not going to be tolerated. I definitely wasn’t late again (got rid of the “undesirable behavior”), but I also hated… HATED running from that point. I saw it as torture and punishment. Funny enough… since it was used as punishment

As a coach or physical educator or anyone who teaches workout classes, your goal is for people to be in it for the long haul. That doesn’t come from hating an activity, but from enjoying it. They won’t enjoy it if they associate it with punishment. So please, remember (especially if you are working with kids) to never ever use any physical activity as punishment. No more, “Drop and give me 20!” They will hate push-ups for ever and a day.

[Took me a while to see that running isn’t punishment! Even when I started, it was associated as being punishment for having eaten too much the day before.]


3. The major motives for exercise participants continuing in an exercise program or sport are: health factors, weight loss, and fitness.—> FALSE

Actually, those are the major motives for people joining a program in the beginning. They want to be healthy, they feel better, they want to lose weight. What are the motives for wanting to continue in that exercise program/sport? Enjoyment and liking the type of activity! There are also social factors (friends/liking instructor), but basically, it comes from the enjoyment of the activity. If you aren’t having fun, then you won’t be sticking with it for the rest of your life.

If I kept seeing running as a form of punishment for ‘too many calories consumed’, then I would just be a miserable runner (oxymoron?) who would not continue into old age. I’d grow weary and tired of it. Luckily, I saw the fun, enjoyment, and joys that come from running, so I plan to do this until I’m withered and grey (God-willing, of course).

This is something that is great for P.E. teachers and exercise instructors to know! You may be helping people get fit and lose weight (extrinsic motivators) and then slowly see a decline in attendance from some of those enthusiastic noobs. Or maybe it became the third week of January and everyone’s New Year’s resolution was a bust. KIDDING. Anyways, find ways for your students to have fun and find enjoyment in the physical activities (intrinsic), and you’ll have converts for life!

track ra1

[^Another picture from post-track RunningAddicts workout. Having friends who enjoy the same activity gives me much more enjoyment —> more love for the sport of running! Photo cred: Linh].


Human anatomy and physiology: like it or dislike it? [I super duper like it]

What sports did you play when growing up? Did you like your coach(es)? [Some coaches empowered me, and others definitely did me some damage… all had the best intentions].

What got you started in your favorite activity? Has that motive changed or evolved over time?

7 responses to “Drop Some Knowledge 3: Pop Quiz Edition

  1. Human anatomy: Love it. Anatomy was my favorite class in high school and I considered becoming a doctor (somewhere along the way I ended up with an art degree instead?) I did read the entire #1 explanation and enjoyed reading thorough answer. 🙂

    Running is by far my favorite sport/activity. Running for me started out as a form of exercise that I didn’t really feel connected to, but over time it has become such a huge (positive) part of my life!

  2. Love human anatomy and physiology. 🙂 My husband is an athletic trainer and we met in grad school when he was getting his master’s in exercise science, so I’m always picking his brain about things since there is SO much misinformation in the mainstream.

  3. Pingback: Drop Some Knowledge #8: Postural and Mechanical Loading on Bones/Ligaments | blessed with thunder thighs·

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