Fartlek training, or speed play as it’s also called, is an awesome cardio technique that has you utilize various speeds to help you accomplish your goals. This type of tempo manipulation has a wide array of benefits: From increased training diversity to increased maximum oxygen uptake for performance.
Most people interested in a fartlek training plan are usually preparing for an individual sport or just trying to get in better shape. In this article, the discussion will be on just how a fartlek training plan can help you to achieve just this.
Okay, we all know that you have to perform some type of cardio if you realistically expect to reach any sort of proficiency in most athletic endeavors. However, not all forms of cardio are created equal. Some may greatly benefit you, while others may be counterproductive to your specific goals.
Fartlek training sessions are usually for the endurance athlete who partakes in sports like soccer, basketball, cross country, and other long distance racing like marathons.
The main reason as to why a fartlek training plan is so lucrative to the endurance athlete is due to its constant change in tempo. That’s what makes it so unique. Going from jogging, to power walking, to sprinting allows you to utilize your slow and fast twitch muscle fibers to a greater degree than with traditional running.
The importance of this fact as it relates to sport lies in the realization that endurance sports are not all about “endurance”. Let’s go over a couple obvious examples.
You’re jogging toward the finish line. It’s been 26 miles of grueling pavement and you find yourself in the lead. Not by much, but hey, you’re in the lead. As everyone who’s ever raced before knows, when you get relatively close to the finish line, you should do an all out sprint to the finish (if you can of course).
Performing several fartlek training sessions before hand will help your body (by training those fast twitch muscle fibers) to execute at its optimal level.
A fartlek training plan is great for the general exercise enthusiast as well. Whether your desire is to just be healthy, get in better shape, or enhance your body’s composition, fartlek training can indefinitely help you to get there.
When you manipulate your running speed, you put different stress demands on your body. These stress demands effect your body differently and you’ll experience different responses to these stresses.
For example, let’s say you do 60 seconds of power walking, then do 20 seconds of all out sprinting. This rapid shift of muscle activation and increased heart rate will greatly help you to burn more calories and get in better shape.
Let’s face it, walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes with the speed on low will only get you so far. That’s what’s so awesome about fartlek training. You can switch from a high intensity to a low intensity at will, and each shift in speed benefits your overall performance in its own way.