Lactic Acid

I first started weight training last year. To anyone who has not tried this, here is what happens. You lift weights in repetitions of ten, alternating the muscle group used. It is no more than three minutes of effort and then you rest. This is for a very good reason. When you strain your body either to run away from the cow (no I mean leopard),  from a speeding car or strength train, there is a burst of effort. Your muscles generate energy by breaking glucose into pyruvate. At this pace, your body is unable to deliver enough oxygen to the muscles. When there is insufficient oxygen, it turns glucose into lactate instead. This allows energy production to continue. This is also called anaerobic energy.

This lactate is acidic in nature and inhibits your muscles from working. This is the reason you feel tired after a rapid burst of energy and need to catch your breadth. You are actually making up for oxygen deficit. Some of us pant at this point in time. In reality, this is your defence mechanism kicking in, to prevent you from straining your muscles. Lactate is commonly believed to cause the soreness in your body after a work out. The first day I went, I swore I would never go again. My body ached for days after in places I didn’t know existed. This is also known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS.

DOMS usually peaks 24-72 hours after an intensive work out or strenuous activity. Scientists are unclear exactly what triggers DOMS but it is believed to be an anti-inflammatory response. This means your muscles are rebuilding themselves. In other words your exercise is paying off. No don’t go looking for a leopard to chase you. Instead, find your closest neighbourhood gym.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.