fartlek training

Fartlek Training and Why it’s Awesome

What is fartlek training? Well, fartlek training is an incredible way for you to burn calories, get in shape, and have fun doing it! Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. The diversity that fartlek training allows for will leave you refreshed and ready for more as soon as you try it! Be that as it may, if you’re like most people, you have probably never heard of this type of cardio training technique. Is this you?

Fartlek traning, or “speed play” as it’s also referred to as is a type of training where you continuously manipulate your tempo from walking to sprinting, and literally everything in between. Let me show you in greater detail of what fartlek training really is and how it can greatly benefit you with your weight loss journey, athletic goals, or overall fitness aspirations. To help you better understand what fartlek training is, I’ll start off with showing you my top 3 favorite fartlek training methods to use…

fartlek training

3 Awesome Fartlek Training Methods To Use

  1. Three Speeds Version: This version is probably my favorite as I feel that it captures fartlek training at its core and incorporates all of the different facets of cardio training. The three speeds version has you incorporate walking, jogging, and sprinting all in one cardio session. The idea is to switch each of the three different types of speeds during your individual training session at specific times. You can start it off with 30 seconds of jogging, 30 seconds of walking, and 15 seconds of an all out sprint. You can then either go backwards, start over, or mix the order and times up. There’s no set rule of how it should be done.
  2. Mailbox Version: This is a pretty fun way to use fartlek training as well, especially if you happen to do cardio in a neighborhood or subdivision. In this version, you change tempos after each or every other mailbox you pass. The same tempos can be used with the previous three speeds version, only instead of time elapsed, you would use mailboxes passed. It can be a fun new way to help you reach your goals.
  3. Music Version: This fartlek training version is great for those of you who like to run outside or on a piece of cardio equipment while listening to music. In this version, you maintain a specific tempo for the verses of each song and another tempo for the chorus. For example: For one song, you can jog during the verse and sprint during the chorus. This is an excellent way to burn calories while still keeping things fun and interesting!

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Doing Fartlek Training

  1. It can greatly help you increase your caloric expenditure and get you lean!
  2. It’s a fun and exciting new way to go about doing cardio.
  3. It can help you to surpass those horrific plateaus that everyone goes through.
  4. Its versatility allows you to use it in a countless amount of ways.
  5. It will get you to enjoy the outdoors more!

fartlek training

The True Beauty of Fartlek Training is…

that it incorporates all tempos of cardio: Fast walking/jogging, running, and sprinting. This makes fartlek training useful for everyone: from the most athletic of athletes to the most novice of gym goers.

There is no cookie cutter outline or strict list of rules that you must stick to when using this technique. You can manipulate the three major tempos in any way you choose in your fartlek training workout. This fact makes this training technique much more appealing than others.

Besides these reasons, using fartlek training will greatly help you to increase your endurance, thus increasing your athletic performance. Whether you are a long distance runner, soccer player, basketball player, or virtually any type of athlete, you can greatly benefit from fartlek training as it can help you attain that physique you’ve always wanted and prepare you to be in tip top shape for any athletic endeavor that comes your way.

Also, doing the same cardio sessions day in and day out can be monotonous. This can lead to discouragement and even quitting all together. Don’t let this happen to you! Stay positive and try out fartlek training next time you have a cardio session to do. You may be surprised as to how much you enjoy it.

Check out these other awesome benefits of fartlek training!

As you can clearly see, there are many benefits of fartlek training. Some of the most predominant being increased endurance, caloric expenditure, better health, more energy, and a decreased RHR (resting heart rate). The diversity of a fartlek run is that it easily allows anyone to customize their own session toward their individual goals.

This capability allows for easily manipulating sessions so anyone can reap the benefits of fartlek training. Below, I will discuss a handful of very important benefits of fartlek training (in more detail) that entice people to use it into their own exercise programs.

Fat Loss Benefits of Fartlek Training

Depending on your current health status, fat loss may be extremely important for your overall health. It can also help you to feel better about yourself. To lose fat, you must burn more calories than you consume. And an intense fartlek training session can help you do just that.

In a typical fartlek training session, you will experience multiple shifts in tempo. This constant change in tempo from hard running to light running ensures that your heart rate will stay relatively high throughout the workout, all while sustaining your stamina. As with most fartlek training sessions, the only rest you will get is probably a brief 30 or 60 second light run or fast walk every minute or so. These fast paced intervals ensure for optimal caloric expenditure, which should result in increased fat loss and increased endurance.

Endurance, Athletic, and Health Benefits of Fartlek Training

Increasing endurance is a huge motivator for people pursuing this training method. Whether your sport is boxing, basketball, tennis, football, long distance running, or any other athletic endeavor, this type of training can definitely help you to increase your performance. Endurance is many times seen as the deciding factor over who wins a game or match. 

Great endurance can be a priceless tool in the ending minutes of any sport and should be taken into consideration during training. As it’s now becoming more and more apparent to you, the endurance benefits of fartlek training are among many. Depending on how your session is designed, it can increase VO2max (maximal oxygen uptake), decrease RHR (resting heart rate), increase your lactic acid thresholds, increase the size and amount of mitochondria in your body’s muscle cells, improve muscle glycogen stores, enhance the overall fluidity of your body’s metabolic pathways, and much much more!

These virtues are extremely important for cardiovascular health and for endurance sports as well. With this increased endurance, you should not only perform better in your sport of choice, but you should also begin to feel more energy throughout the day during your normal activities.

fartlek training

How about actually making a fartlek training program?

Okay, so we all know that fartlek training is awesome and extremely effective, and all that stuff. Yea, we get it.

But how do I make a training program that reflects my goals and what I want out of fitness? In fact what is it that I specifically want out of a fartlek training program? What are my specific goals and aspirations?

Your answer to these questions should give you a clear indication of what your fartlek training program should look like. For example, if you are motivated to train for a specific sport, the actions of that sport (whether it be jogging, sprinting, or learning how to pace yourself) should be engraved in your fartlek training program to optimize the results of your efforts. For example, you may want to emphasize more sprinting to activate more fast twitch muscle fibers for explosive type sports or incorporate more jogging that will engage more of your oxidative slow twitch muscle fibers that you’ll need for endurance sports.

In short, you have to know what you want to know how to get there.

Fartlek Training Program for Fat Loss

A well designed fartlek training program can greatly help you to shed off pounds of body weight if performed properly. When designing a program for fat loss it is very important to first know where you are. If you’re very sedentary, then you shouldn’t start off with an intense 45 minute fartlek run. Conversely, if you’re a conditioned athlete, then sticking with the status quo won’t cut the mustard either. You’re high lactate threshold and VO2 max makes it to where you’ll have to train at a much higher intensity versus a sedentary individual. Knowing where you are is key before starting your fat loss program!

A well designed fartlek training program for fat loss should include sessions of multiple alternating tempo’s from brisk walking to all out sprinting (only if practical). This will ensure for maximal energy efforts as well as proper recovery. These tempo shifts allow you to pace yourself more efficiently: If you’re getting too winded, simply slow down. If you feel as though you’re not doing enough, then speed things up.

Fartlek Training Program for Endurance Sports

When designing a fartlek training program for endurance sports, it is very important to first choose the sport or event for which you’re training for. Second, design your program in a way that helps you to improve on your weaknesses (low type I muscle fiber count, small type II muscle fibers, small mitochondria, etc.). This is the best way to design a fartlek training program.

For example, if you are a long distance runner interested in a new type of training to help you improve your endurance and athletic performance, then you may be less interested in a 50-50 ratio of jogging to sprinting and more interested in a very limited amount of sprinting.

fartlek training

This is not only because condition is more important than speed for the avid endurance runner, but also because to optimally increase endurance one should spend the majority of their time training aerobically as apposed to training anaerobically (sprinting). This isn’t to say that you should take it easy! To acquire the best fitness results, you should aim for spending much of your running time maintaining a 70-80% VO2 max. This will allow you to reap the most fitness benefits, as well as helping with the conversion of fast twitch to slow twitch muscle fibers.

Final thoughts on why fartlek training is awesome!

Whether you’re looking to lose body fat for the beaches or to win your next race, fartlek training can be the catalyst to help you get there. So, of the many benefits of fartlek training, ranging from increased endurance, increased sport performance, lower cholesterol, and fat loss, it seems evident that fartlek training is a magnificent method to use that can truly help you to accomplish your goals!

With the continuous efforts exerted in each fartlek training session, it is very clear as to how it can greatly increase caloric expenditure. Thus, leading to great results. All in all, a specific and intelligently designed fartlek training program can help you to reach your fitness goals, and even surpass them! So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start running!

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