What Is “OBLA” + How Can It Improve Your Fitness Level?
I’m guessing as the title states, you’re wondering — what the heck is OBLA?
Oh, what? You haven’t heard of OBLA? You’re so out of the loop.
Just kidding. I hadn’t heard of it either until last week. OBLA stands for Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation and it is the point during exercise at which lactic acid builds up in your blood and fatigue sets in. The point when you “hit a wall,” so to speak.
It’s also known as the Lactate Threshold or Anaerobic Threshold.
Right below this level, your muscles are able to metabolize lactate and exercise continues somewhat seamlessly.
I learned the term from celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, during a private workout at his home gym in West Hollywood recently. Harley is well-known on the celeb fitness scene, having trained many enviable bod babes like Ariana Grande, Megan Fox, Rihanna, and Jessica Simpson.
He was explaining how you can use your heart rate to help improve your training sessions. The key is to figure out your OBLA so you can work at your max — without maxing out.
Fitbit hooked up attendees with their new Charge HR activity tracker, which continuously monitors your heart rate, and we used them during our session with Pasternak to help figure out our OBLA and optimum heart rate range for fat vs. carbohydrate burning.
We monitored our heart rate as we went from first doing a fast walk (mine was about 95 bpm) to doing a circuit of walking lunges, rows with a TRX system, and cardio bursts on a Helix Lateral Trainer (my heart rate shot up to about 150-170 here).
The fitness guru explained that by being able to determine your heart rate right before you reach OBLA, you can exercise with the most efficiency.
How do you determine your individual OBLA?
“It’s really trial and error,” says Pasternak. “Go for a jog wearing your Fitbit Charge HR and use it to see how you feel at different heart rate levels and intensities. Look at your heart rate level as you feel good during your workout, and as you begin to feel discomfort, and you will deduce your personal threshold.”
So — what exactly do you do?
- Determine the rate you’re at when you hit a wall.
- Use that number as a gauge. Aim to exercise just below that number in the future. When you see that you’re approaching that number, scale it back a bit so you don’t burn out.
- As you get stronger, and more conditioned, that number will increase and you’ll be able to exercise at a higher intensity.
Just make sure you don’t short change yourself! “An important principle to keep in mind when training people is that it’s human nature to avoid pain and discomfort,” said Harley.
Go as hard as you can so you can accurately determine that threshold.
Another reason it’s beneficial to know your heart rate during a workout is because it’s a useful tool for determining overall health and athletic ability.
A healthy, conditioned person will be able to recover and return to their normal resting rate pretty quickly after a burst of exercise. If it’s taking your heart rate a long time to come down, you may need to up your game.
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