What Is “OBLA” + How Can It Improve Your Fitness Level?

OBLA and Heart Rate

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.

Celebrity Trainer Harley Pasternak

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.

Fitbit Charge HR

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).

TRX Training with Harley Pasternak

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?

  1. Determine the rate you’re at when you hit a wall.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Fitbit Harley Pasternak

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.

A big thanks to Harley, Fitbit, TRX and New Balance for fueling this awesome workout and teaching me about this helpful fitness tool!


Weigh In: Have you heard of OBLA? Do you use a heart rate monitor when you exercise? Will you try using this method?


  1. I had never heard of this term. It’s interesting to learn about what’s new in exercise technology. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Very neat ! I need to get one ! But can we talk about that rock ?!


  3. Shirley Arroyo says:

    I do use a heart rate monitor when I exercise. My daughter has designed a set of 4 runs per week for me using heart rate interval training. I like it a lot! She has found it has increased her performance as a triathlete.

  4. OHH I’ve never heard of it referred to that way, LOVE new terms
    Amanda – RunToTheFinish recently posted…Why Runners Make the Best EmployeesMy Profile

  5. I’ve definitely never heard of it but it sounds super helpful! I have a Fitbit but I have to be honest and say that I am terrible at remembering to wear it. And then when I do remember it is always flat! I must make a better effort! At least this post reminded me to go and charge it for tomorrow! xx
    Krissy @ Pretty Wee Things recently posted…Join me at the Pin Worthy Wednesday Link Up!My Profile

    • Whitney English says:

      Yes, it is hard to remember to charge it and to put it back on when I take a shower. I just try to always keep it by me! Glad to have helped remind you 🙂

  6. Wow!!! I have never heard about this term before but it sounds interesting and exciting. Thank you so much for informing all of us about this new and innovative thing.

Mentioned Elsewhere:

  1. […] IVL is actually hosting a Health & Beauty Giveaway this month where you can win a 3-month supply of Go Ruby Go!, along with a bunch of their other awesome products. And to sweeten the deal — the winner also gets a new Fitbit Charge HR (you know how much I love mine). […]

  2. […] The festival features live performances from artists like Big Boi, guest appearances from celebrities like Shay Mitchell (any PLL fans out there?), and workouts with LA’s top trainers including Gunnar Peterson and Harley Pasternak. […]

  3. […] with Harley Pasternak for 90-seconds straight right next to Pretty Little Liar‘s Shay Mitchell (that’s me […]

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