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The Beginners Guide To Fartlek Training

16th April 2021

16th April 2021

By Shivraj Bassi

Looking for a way to spice up your cardio routines?

Whilst we love cardio exercise techniques such as skipping, running, walking and rowing for their health benefits such as improved cardiovascular health, increased endurance abilities and the general feel-good factor these workouts provide, they can be pretty monotonous sometimes, so we’re always on the look out for a way to make our workout routines that little bit more exciting.

Fartlek training is a great way to bring some variety to your cardio routines, enabling greater flexibility in your routine, and train your muscles.

What is Fartlek training?

Swedish for “speed play”, Fartlek training refers to a technique used in cardio exercise that consists of varying your time and pace. The aim of this training exercise is to improve your endurance, stamina and overall fitness levels, by switching up the intensity of your workout in short bursts. This could involve switching between walking and running for a set amount of time to get your body used to different levels of endurance.

What are the benefits of Fartlek training?

There are a wealth of benefits involved in the integration of Fartlek training in your routine. From the flexibility of the technique all the way to the science behind the Swedish strategy, we’ve listed some of the main Fartlek benefits that you need to know below...

Improves Your Mental Health

    The benefits of exercise on your mental well-being are indisputable and so the benefits of Fartlek training integration will have a hugely positive impact on your overall health.

    Extremely Versatile And Less Structured

      Many people hate interval training due to the rigid structure. On the flip side, with one of the Fartlek benefits is that you can do this training whenever, wherever – at home, in the gym and outside. It’s also not limited to running – give it a go with whatever your favourite exercise type is!

      Improves Speed and Endurance

        Unlike interval training, with Fartlek training, you do not stop. This means continuous running, with the aim of conditioning your body to adapt to different speeds. Over time, this means you will be able to run faster for longer, with improved energy and performance levels.

        For this reason, many runners use it in the upcoming training for marathons and extended distances – so if you’re currently in training, give Fartlek a go.

        Mix It Up

          If you’re struggling to maintain motivation to engage in cardio and Fartlek training – they key is to mix it up. Engage in different cardio activities: running, swimming, cycling and skipping are all great for toning up and losing weight.

          What are the best Fartlek Routines?

          If you’re interested in trying to add the Fartlek techniques into your workout routines but are a bit stuck with where to start, remember to always warm up adequately and warm down as best as possible to avoid injury, and pair any exercise with a healthy diet and lifestyle choices to get the best results.

          The combinations are endless, but to get you inspired, here are three examples below. Don’t push yourself too much to begin with, though – slow and steady wins the race.

          Start with a warm up and gradually increase your pace when you feel comfortable. As you feel comfortable, increase your pace. After a mile or two, or perhaps a 10 minute interval, increase again. Remember this is your work out – if you need to walk, walk!

          You could also introduce power surges into your routine, where you push yourself to your fastest pace at one minute intervals.

          How can I ‘time’ my Fartlek training?

          This is one of the ways that you can get really creative. If you want to keep it simple, of course, you can just use a stop watch – maybe through your smart phone or watch. However, many people use more unique techniques to time their Fartlek intervals to ensure that they aren’t getting bored.

          Use Your Playlist

          A great and interactive way to time your Fartlek interviews is through your playlist. Every time the song changes, change pace or exercise to ensure you are regularly switching up your exercise routine and really getting the most out of the training technique.

          Use Television Advertisements

          If you’re lucky enough to have a treadmill set up at home, or even if your gym has a TV set up, get yourself in front of the TV and start your workout during a television programme. Every time an advert comes on, switch it up! Change pace, exercise, incline – you name it. This is a great way to time your Fartlek intervals and you can distract yourself from the struggles of cardio with your favourite binge-worthy Netflix episodes.

          Use Distances 

          This one is ideal for racers. If you’re in training for an upcoming race and want to challenge yourself with your pace for different elements of the race, you can map out your route to make sure you’re mixing up your pace intermittently.

          For long distance, a great way to do this is to change pace every 400m – but it’s up to you!

          Innermost Top Tips

          • As with any exercise tactic, make sure not to overdo it. You need to mix up your workouts – their intensity, duration and technique, to ensure that your body doesn’t become complacent.
          • Don’t partake in Fartlek training for too long at a time. The optimum duration for a workout like this is between 45 and 60 minutes, depending on your fitness level.
          • Involve your friends! This is the perfect workout to do as a group.

          So, we’d say that the Fartlek benefits are pretty solid. For other tips to improve your cardio workouts, up your endurance or increase your energy levels, visit our blog.


          • NHS. (2021). Benefits of Exercise. Retrieved 8 April 2021.Click here.
          • The Lost Art of Fartlek. (2021). Retrieved 9 April 2021.Click here.

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