A fartlek training method is a highly effective training technique that can greatly help you to achieve your fitness goals. The term “fartlek” is Swedish for “speed play”. And by speed play, this means an alteration in one’s tempo throughout a given distance or time frame. In other words, it’s the manipulation of speed.
Virtually anyone can benefit from a fartlek training method as it’s a highly effective technique for maintaining efforts below and above the first and second ventilatory thresholds (VT1 & VT2). With this being said, it can successfully be utilized by athletes of all skill levels in specific relation to their goals. This is the true beauty of a fartlek training method.
Fartlek Training Method Variations
Below, I’ll briefly discuss some common fartlek training method variations that you can easily use on your own to help give you a better understanding of what it is!
Music Version- In this type of fartlek training method, the runner’s tempo correlates to a certain part of a song he or she is playing. For example, if the verses of the song happen to be slow in tempo, this would cause for brisk walking or jogging. Then, if the chorus of the song picks up in tempo to a much more rapid pace, this would then cause for heavy running or sprinting. This is a fantastic strategy to use and can also help make training more enjoyable.
Mailbox Version- In this method, the runner is intended to run the distance of a selected number mailboxes, switching up speeds after a certain number have been passed. For example, the runner can sprint for 4 mail box lengths and walk for 2. This is a great fartlek training method and can quickly raise your heart rate. You can literally mix it up in any way that you want!
Three Speeds Version- This version incorporates the alteration of 3 different speeds during one single training session over a given amount of time. For example, you can start off by walking for 60 seconds, jogging for 30 seconds, and then sprinting for 15 seconds. This technique can be repeated as much as you want or you can allot yourself a brief moment of time to rest in between each interval. This fartlek training method is not only the easiest one to use, but it’s probably the most popular one to use as well.
Dog Park Version- This is a fun fartlek training method version to do as it can also help to protect you from that angry looking dog around the block that loves chasing you. This version simply implies that as you approach a dog, in say a park or in your neighborhood, you would then proceed to speed up until you passed it. Then, after you have passed up the dog, you can then slow down to a more comfortable pace.
Pool version- Ever thought about doing cardio in a pool? If you haven’t then you’re definitely missing out! This can be a great fartlek training method for you to use if you happen to suffer from joint pain or if you’re just tired of walking on land. There are a ton of fartlek training variations that you can easily use while swimming in a pool. From switching up tempos per lap or making things more complex by switching up tempos per lap while simultaneously switching up strokes per lap. Sound interesting? Check out my article here for more information on fartlek training in a pool!
Fartlek Training Method Progressions
With all of the effective and productive training modalities out there, they would be nothing without the implementation of proper progressions. Progressions are essential to seeing any kind of significant success from your efforts. Such training progressions can be slightly increasing the amount of time or distance of your fartlek training method, among many other things.
Progressions are extremely important in any sport with regards to actually seeing progress. Slight, yet highly effective progressions can mean the difference between success and failure. Incorporating them can help you to increase your VO2 Max, decrease your RHR (resting heart rate), and improve your triglyceride levels, among many other benefits.
It’s no secret of the diversity and effectiveness that a fartlek training method can give you. It’s a great way to lose weight, improve aerobic capacity, and helps to prevent boredom from your normal exercise routines! It’s this diversity that makes it such an attractive mode of exercise to use!
A fartlek training method can be implemented and manipulated in as many ways as your imagination can conceive. And with the use of progressions, it’s a great way for beginners to slowly able themselves to withstand the increasing demands that this training protocol evokes.
Fartlek training method summary…
There’s without a doubt that the funny sounding exercise protocol known as fartlek is among one of the best ways to take your physique and performance to the next level. When I ask people if they’ve ever heard of fartlek training, they almost always say “no”. It isn’t until I explain to them what it is when they say, “Oh wait! I do that all the time!” So, you may in fact actually be using a fartlek training method and never knew it.
All a fartlek training method is is cardiovascular interval training. Switching up your tempo to challenge yourself more or to give yourself a brief break. Regardless of how you choose to do it, it’s great for allowing you to actually pace yourself. Because let’s be honest here, we don’t always feel like superman everyday, do we?
Also, an intelligently designed fartlek training method can be that missing link in your exercise program that can help push you over the hump to reap a glorious harvest of increased endurance, respiratory capacity, energy, and caloric expenditure, among many other benefits.
Fartlek training can be seen implemented by top athletes and beginner exercisers alike. With that being said, an individual fartlek training session should be interfaced with the specific needs and goals of the individual in mind. This will produce significant improvements in performance and will also allow for the appropriate implementation of progressions, which are detrimental for success.