What does fartlek training improve? Well, that’s quite a loaded question. Be that as it may, in this article I’ll go over the main points of what this awesome training protocol can do for your health, performance, and overall well-being.
Fartlek training, or speed play as it’s also called, is a highly effective training method where you change your running speed per interval. Fartlek training can be thought of as continuous interval cardiovascular training.
This makes sense when you look at just how a fartlek run is done. With such an effective training protocol, it should come to no surprise as to how many awesome benefits you can expect to obtain from it!
Below, I’ll go over some of the key benefits and how it can improve your body composition, your health, and your athletic performance. So, what does fartlek training improve?
Increased VO2 max
If you’re asking yourself “What does fartlek training improve?”, you can’t answer such an inquiry without acknowledging that you can expect to increase your VO2 max! Increasing your VO2 max is vital for achieving any type of success in endurance sports.
Your VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can consume and utilize for working tissues. Oxygen plays a primary role in the creation of ATP via various metabolic pathways.
One of the best ways to increase your VO2 max is by that of progressive overload, and fartlek training is just the method to easily allow for such a technique. Interested in calculating your own VO2 max? Then, check out my article here on how to do it!
With a well executed fartlek training program, you can definitely expect to increase your VO2 max. This will enhance your performance and allow you to run for longer distances without fatiguing as quickly.
Increased lactate threshold
Fartlek training also increases your lactate threshold! Lactate threshold is the point at which lactate blood levels exponentially increase well beyond normal levels. It is at this point where you experience high levels of fatigue.
It’s when you find yourself struggling to even continue on. It’s accompanied by sloppy form and very heavy breathing.
Lactate or lactic acid is a byproduct that is used to help create more ATP. It’s formed in the metabolic pathway called glycolysis in an attempt to create more NADH which will go to the electron transport chain (ETC) to create ATP.
The higher your lactate threshold is, the longer you’ll be able to run without experiencing intense fatigue. This means that you’ll have a significant upper hand over your opponents! Individuals with high lactate thresholds also typically have high VO2 max levels.
Increased mitochondria (more metabolic pathways)
Consistent fartlek training sessions increase the size and number of mitochondria in your muscle tissue. This is extremely important for endurance athletes as it will provide them with more energy to be able to finish their runs efficiently.
It is in the mitochondria where ATP is made. So, you can imagine that by having larger mitochondria in greater numbers would give you a greater advantage over someone who has less mitochondria.
Having more ATP will allow you to exercise longer without feeling fatigued. This, in conjunction with an increased VO2 max and lactate threshold are what will allow your to become adept at even the most grueling of tasks (e.g. 5k’s, marathons, etc.).
Increased fat loss
Besides the physiological benefits that you can expect from doing a fartlek training session, you can also expect to increase fat loss. Fartlek training has you manipulate your speeds throughout each training session.
So, you can find yourself going from sprinting to walking, then jogging within a matter of seconds. This mix of tempos will allow you to regain your energy and more importantly stay interested in the workout ahead of you.
This may be why fartlek training for fat loss is so effective! Too many times people do the same thing OVER and OVER again. They’ll jump on the treadmill for 30 minutes or so for 6 days a week and hope that that’ll be enough.
That may work for you, but it’s probably better for you to switch up your workouts with speed variations like with fartlek training. This will help you to keep your head in the game and will keep things interesting!
Improved sports performance
If you’re a long distance runner or you play endurance sports like soccer, then you’ll be happy to know that fartlek training can enhance your athletic performance immensely. No longer should you feel ignominious in comparison to your competitors ever again.
Fartlek training is a fantastic way to prepare for a marathon or any other long distance event. It will allow you to have a clearer understanding of just how to pace yourself when running for a very long duration.
In addition, it will also increase many other very effective physiological factors that will contribute to your overall sports performance. Some of these are improved stroke volume, improved mean arterial pressure, increased muscle glycogen stores, a larger heart, increased cardiac output, and so on.
Summing up the question, What does fartlek training improve?
Let’s recap just what does fartlek training improve. Well, it can greatly increase your VO2 max, the size of your heart, your lactate threshold, the size and number of mitochondria, the volume of blood in the left ventricle of your heart…
Increased muscle glycogen stores, increased stroke volume and cardiac output, a lower mean arterial pressure, a greater and more efficient capacity to generate ATP for muscle contractions, and much more.
Fartlek training is great for fat loss as well! You can expect to burn a ton of calories along with keeping yourself mentally “in the game” throughout your weight loss journey.
Staying motivated is a big problem for a lot of people. The problem doesn’t necessarily always occur at the beginning of their fitness journey either. It usually comes when they find themselves experiencing a plateau. Fartlek training greatly aids in counteracting such an occurrence due to the near unlimited amount of ways that you can customize a single running session. Thus, keeping things fun and interesting!