T Nation

Lactic Acid Buildup?


I normally don't do leg presses. I had just finished deadlifting, so my legs were already a bit taxed, and started doing the leg press. After the first set I locked in the weight and dropped my feet to the floor with my knees still up. Within 20 seconds my legs were burning so bad I had to drop my knees so my legs were straight across the floor. I tried it after the next few sets with the same effect. Tremendous pain!

Is that normal? Do I have bad circulation to my legs? Is this just lactic acid buildup? And what kind of effects could this have on muscle growth?


How long did it last? Did you get cramps at all? Muscles seizing? When you say "legs were burning" do you mean your whole leg? Just quads or hams?


What kind of reps are we talking about?

I find it fairly easy to build up a "debt" that get's paid upon stopping.


I know cramps and this was no cramp. I was doing sets of 6-8. When I say burning I mean gradually as time passed when my legs were in that position, the pain worsened until I let my legs down flat. It felt as if I were doing sets of 30 while my legs were stationary! And it was just my quads, not hams.

I have never felt this before, I was just wondering what your thoughts on it were.


I have had this happen before. There is an extremely steep hill near my house, about 200 meters is probably the steepest grade allowable by the state of Tennessee. Long story short, I used to do sprints, as fast as possible up the hill, walk down then repeat.

I only ever worked up to three at any one time because after the 2nd, my legs were what I would call aching, not so much burning to the point where I had to slowly walk around and then sit on the ground and roll around in pain until I could finally bring myself to go back inside and stare at the wall. I would say it is lactic acid, hydrogen ion whatever you want to call it the shit hurts, but it is some byproduct of anaerobic metabolism.


Honestly, I have no idea. If it is LA, maybe it's some sort of circulation issue whereby it isn't being cleared fast enough... to guess. Or some nutritional issue possibly though you would think that wouldn't limit itself to just the legs. I don't know. If it's as serious as you're making it sound I would definitely be sure to get it figured out. Maybe it's a symptom something more though like I say, I don't know.


When you say you don't do leg presses, do you mean you hardly work your legs? I'm probably reading too much into this but it sounds like Lactic Acid build up that isn't clearing. If you haven't put you legs through strenuous or any sort of real exercise it could be due to poor circulation. The only way to clear it from your muscles is to flex them. Walking it off, getting on a bike at the end of your workout. Something.

If this is just a case of adding leg presses into your leg workout then really I have no idea why this would happen. Either way it sound like lactic acid. Maybe you using too much weight? Not getting a good exchange of oxygen?

Sorry I'm really just speculating.


I get the same thing doing leg extensions. It's pretty much lactic acid for me though. You get to know the feeling pretty darn well after running seasons of cross country, haha.


I had the same feeling when I did leg press drop sets. It was as if my quads were trying to extend my legs even at full knee flexion. I figured it was a wierd kind of lactic acidosis, aka cramps.


I have this happen all the time if I'm doing a designated leg day. I'll start with squats and go to deadlifts and I always feel a nice miserable burn of lactic acid build up. It's just lactic acid, no big deal.


I don't know. The way he's describing it, it sounds like it's happening for an extended time after the sets over and that it's much worse than normal. Maybe I am not understanding corectly.

LA accumulation can be pretty brutal, but this sounds like a level above that. Maybe not, maybe he has a lower tolerance for pain or something and it is just that. This guy does sound like he has some idea of what he's talking bout though and like he's been training long enough to know the difference.


You need to start taking BETA-7.

On the day when this happened did you eat enough? Did you do a proper warmup?

It just sounds like extensive hydrogen ion accumulation. Nothing fancy. And like somebody else said, to help it clear your legs faster at the end of your workout, ride a stationary bike easy for a bit.


Sorry, when I say I normally don't do leg presses, I just mean that it's not a familiar exercise for me. I used to have pain in my knee from doing them so I usually stick to squats instead. My original thought is that it was lactic acid, its just unusual how it comes on, not like I'm finishing a real tough set and as soon I rack the weight the pain comes.

Just picture yourself doing leg presses, you finish a set, lock the weight, and let your feet drop so that your calves are touching your hams. After 10 seconds I start to get an uncomfortable feeling in my quads, I don't move my legs, after about 25-30 seconds the pain gradually increases as if I'm finishing a brutal set. If I continue to leave my legs in that position, the pain gets so intense that I can't take it!

It's not that big of a deal I was just wondering why it comes on so late, and if it had any effect on building size?


Yeah I'm not sure exactly what it is but I don't think what you are talking about is out of the ordinary. Basically from what I understand, you do a set of intense leg presses, then lay on your back with your knees bent?

Probably just waste products not getting cleared or something. This happens to me when I go really hard and heavy on sled dragging, I usually collapse on my back and lay there for a while trying to catch breath and if I bend my knees up I get the same kinda thing...

feels like they start to swell up and then a little bit of a burning sensation, although I have to say I've always just adjusted my legs after it became anything more than moderately uncomfortable.

If I'm understanding correctly... I wouldn't be too worried.


Try getting up and walking around after the set or if that's too much at least getting to a bench or something where you can straighten your legs out. I'm curious if it has to do with your legs being bent hard like that and maybe restricting blood flow right when they're probably trying to pump up after the set.


I get the same thing, only me it's from leg extensions...

If I don't get my legs out of the machine the second I am done it's as if I never stopped and was on my 40th rep.


the answer is:

Sorry dude


Im cant speak for other people that have had this, but the burn you get from leg extensions even done at very high reps is not this type of sensation. Because leg extensions are by nature, an easy exercise, mainly because they are single joint and you can just not get the type of loading you can get with compound movements.

This is not a typical "leg day". If leg days were like this no one would do "leg days". Dont think the type of extreme discomfort this guy is talking about is the same as your run of the mill leg day with leg extensions being the most uncomfortable part.