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The Norwegian Model of Lactate Threshold Training for Road Cyclists

lactate threshold one and two

In road cycling, athletes can incorporate the Norwegian model of lactate threshold training for optimal performance. This method, developed by running coach Marius Bakken, focuses on precise training intensity control through lactate monitoring. By using INSCYD lactate measurements, athletes can train effectively for peak performance, including double threshold days.

Understanding the Norwegian Model

The Norwegian model of lactate threshold training is based on the principle of controlling training intensity through lactate measurements. This approach ensures that athletes train at optimal intensities, enhancing performance while minimising the risk of overtraining. The key components of this model include:

1. Lactate Monitoring: Use INSCYD testing for regular measurement of blood lactate levels to determine the appropriate training intensity.

2. Threshold Training: Focusing on training at or near the lactate threshold, which is the intensity at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood.

3. Double Threshold Days: Incorporating two threshold training sessions in one day to maximise adaptation and performance gains [1]

The Science Behind Lactate Threshold

lactate concentration graph

Lactate threshold (LT) is a critical physiological marker in endurance sports. It represents the point during exercise at which lactate starts to accumulate in the bloodstream faster than it can be cleared. Training at or near LT is beneficial because it enhances the body's ability to sustain higher intensities for longer periods, improving endurance and performance.

In the Norwegian model, lactate levels are typically kept around 3.0 mmol/L or lower during threshold sessions. This controlled approach helps athletes stay within an optimal intensity range, balancing stress and recovery effectively [2]

Cyclist being lactate tested by their coach

Using INSCYD Lactate Results to Determine Training Intensity

To implement the Norwegian model, athletes need to regularly monitor their lactate levels during training. Here's a step-by-step guide to using INSCYD lactate measurements to determine training intensity:

1. Baseline Testing: Conduct an INSCYD lactate threshold test to establish your baseline LT. This involves a graded exercise test where lactate levels are measured at increasing intensities until a sharp rise in lactate concentration is observed.

2. Determine Training Zones: Based on your LT, establish your training zones. For example:

- Zone 1 (Recovery): Below 2.0 mmol/L

- Zone 2 (Endurance): 2.0-3.0 mmol/L

- Zone 3 (Threshold): 3.0-4.0 mmol/L

- Zone 4 (Above Threshold): Above 4.0 mmol/L

3. Regular Monitoring: Use a portable lactate analyser during training sessions to measure blood lactate levels and adjust your intensity accordingly.

4. Adjustments: Make necessary adjustments to your training based on lactate readings. If lactate levels are too high, reduce intensity; if too low, increase intensity to stay within the desired range.

group of cyclists indoor training

Example Training Sessions

Here are some example training sessions incorporating the Norwegian model:

Lactate Threshold Intervals

Session 1: Classic Threshold Intervals

- Warm-up: 20 minutes easy riding

- Main Set: 4 x 10 minutes at LT (3.0-4.0 mmol/L), with 5 minutes easy riding between intervals

- Cool-down: 15 minutes easy riding

Session 2: Progressive Threshold Intervals

- Warm-up: 20 minutes easy riding

- Main Set: 3 x 12 minutes progressing from just below LT to just above LT within each interval (start at 2.5 mmol/L and finish at 4.0 mmol/L), with 6 minutes easy riding between intervals

- Cool-down: 15 minutes easy riding

Endurance with Lactate Monitoring

Session 3: Steady-State Endurance

- Warm-up: 20 minutes easy riding

- Main Set: 60 minutes at 2.5-3.0 mmol/L (just below LT)

- Cool-down: 15 minutes easy riding

cyclists racing on a track

Double Threshold Days

Double threshold days are a hallmark of the Norwegian model, aimed at maximising the adaptive response by incorporating two threshold sessions in a single day. This approach requires careful planning and adequate recovery to avoid overtraining.

Example Double Threshold Day

Morning Session:

- Warm-up: 20 minutes easy riding

- Main Set: 4 x 8 minutes at LT (3.0-4.0 mmol/L), with 4 minutes easy riding between intervals

- Cool-down: 15 minutes easy riding

Evening Session:

- Warm-up: 20 minutes easy riding

- Main Set: 3 x 10 minutes at LT (3.0-4.0 mmol/L), with 5 minutes easy riding between intervals

- Cool-down: 15 minutes easy riding

Recovery and Nutrition

- Between Sessions: Focus on recovery with light stretching, hydration, and a balanced meal rich in carbohydrates and protein.

- Post-Evening Session: Emphasise recovery with adequate rest, hydration, and a nutritious meal to replenish glycogen stores and repair muscles.

Implementing the Norwegian Model

To successfully implement the Norwegian model of lactate threshold training, consider the following tips:

1. Consistent Monitoring: Regularly measure your lactate levels to ensure you are training within the desired intensity zones. This consistency is key to reaping the benefits of this approach.

2. Progressive Overload: Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your threshold sessions to continually challenge your body and stimulate adaptation.

3. Recovery: Prioritise recovery with proper nutrition, hydration, and rest. Double threshold days are demanding, and adequate recovery is crucial to prevent overtraining.

4. Individualisation: Tailor the training plan to your individual needs and goals. The Norwegian model is flexible and can be adjusted based on your performance and feedback from lactate measurements.

5. Professional Guidance: Consider taking the INSCYD Power Performance Decoder and then working with me to use the lactate threshold data in training to help you implement this model effectively.


The Norwegian model of lactate threshold training offers a scientifically-backed approach to optimising training intensity and improving performance for road cyclists. By incorporating regular lactate monitoring, focusing on threshold training, and utilising double threshold days, athletes can train smarter and achieve their peak potential. Whether you are preparing for a major race or seeking to enhance your everyday training, the principles of the Norwegian model can provide a strategic advantage in your cycling journey.

Embrace the science of lactate threshold training and unlock your full potential on the road. With dedication, consistency, and the right approach, you can elevate your performance and achieve your cycling goals.


🌐 Sources

1. - The Norwegian model of lactate threshold training (

3. - Does Lactate-Guided Threshold Interval Training within a ...(

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