What is the Difference Between Lactate Threshold and OBLA

The key difference between lactate threshold and OBLA is that lactate threshold measures the intensity of exercise where lactate accumulation begins, while OBLA measures lactate accumulation following the overproduction of lactate.

Lactic acid or lactate is a product of lactic acid fermentation, which is a type of anaerobic respiration that takes place in eukaryotic muscle cells. The values lactate threshold and OBLA refer to are individual levels associated with lactate accumulation during different exercise states.


1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Lactate Threshold
3. What is OBLA
4. Similarities –  Lactate Threshold and OBLA
5. Lactate Threshold vs OBLA in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Lactate Threshold vs OBLA

What is Lactate Threshold?

The rate of lactate accumulation varies in response to exercise. Thus, the lactate threshold is defined as the intensity of exercise in which the lactate accumulation commences. The anaerobic threshold is marked at this point. This occurs when the accumulation rate is faster than the removal rate of lactate from the blood. Due to the over-accumulation of lactate, unbuffered acid is added to the blood. This will make the person feel sick. Lactate is produced during exercising via anaerobic respiration – lactic acid fermentation in muscles.  The over-accumulation of lactate due to prolong exercise may lead to cramps.

Figure 01: Lactic Acid Fermentation

In order to measure the lactate threshold, blood lactate levels can be measured at varying time intervals during exercise or at varying running speeds. This could be done using a lactate analyzer. Furthermore, four common physical tests are also used to analyze the lactate threshold. They are the VDOT test, the Conconi method, the 3,200-meter time trial, and the 30-minute test.

What is OBLA (Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation)?

OBLA refers to the Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation Value. It is the point at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood at an increased rate. At the OBLA value point, the lactate concentration in the blood increases to a point where the breakdown of lactate is inhibited. Thus, the production rate of lactate exceeds the breakdown rate at the OBLA point.

Figure 02: Lactate

OBLA is initiated after around 20-60 minutes of good physical performance. At this point, training and physical activity parameters are measured in order to assess the efficiency of the energy generation mechanisms.

OBLA value is calculated once the lactate threshold is reached during a certain physical activity. Various factors like diet, heredity patterns, physical activity, sedentary behavior, and lifestyle play a major role in altering the OBLA value of a person. Hence, the values cannot be generalized against a population.

What are the Similarities Between Lactate Threshold and OBLA?

  • Both are related to the accumulation and production of lactate from anaerobic respiration mechanisms.
  • In both instances, lactic acid production is initiated in muscles via lactic acid fermentation.
  • Both values are important for individuals assessing their physical activity.
  • Blood lactate levels are important in determining both values.
  • Both values cannot be generalized; hence they are highly customized based on the individual’s characteristics.
  • Moreover, when determining both values, factors like diet, heredity factors, and lifestyle patterns play an important role.

What is the Difference Between Lactate Threshold and OBLA?

The key difference between lactate threshold and OBLA is based on the point at which the values are taken. Lactate threshold is based on the exercise intensity levels that begin lactate accumulation, while OBLA refers to the lactate accumulation in blood following the overproduction of lactate.

The below infographic presents the differences between lactate threshold and OBLA in tabular form for side by side comparison.

Summary – Lactate Threshold vs OBLA

Lactate threshold and OBLA are two levels related to lactate accumulation that take place during the switch between aerobic respiration to anaerobic respiration during the state of exercise. Lactate threshold refers to the level of exercise in which lactate accumulation commences in the blood. OBLA refers to the lactate accumulation of blood resulting from the overproduction of lactate due to an increase of anaerobic respiration during a state of exercise. The methods of diagnosis and measurement also vary between the two parameters. So, this summarizes the difference between lactate threshold and OBLA.