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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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Planning and scheduling is the only way to successfully stay on track, and staying on track and remaining consistent is absolutely the quickest way to smashing your fitness goals. They say it takes 21 days to make a habit, so if you can choose and apply one of our below five tips to fitting in exercise to your life, we promise that after those initial three weeks, making time for exercise will become like second nature.  Here’s our top five tips for when it comes to making time for exercise… Switch up your commute Wondering how to fit the gym in with work? Think about your commute. The average commute is around 62 minutes in the United Kingdom. That’s over two hours a day that we are commuting. Not only is that a huge chunk of the day, but it’s two hours of the day that could be spent exercising… potentially. If you could switch up your commute to walk, cycle or run (maybe all, but even part of the way), this somewhat redundant time can be used to not only get you where you need to be, but assist you in fitting in fitness to your busy day. Granted, if you are commuting over an hour a day, it’s likely you are using a train service or perhaps driving yourself to your destination… but this doesn’t mean that you can incorporate some level of exercise into your day. Park slightly further away, or maybe get off at an earlier stop and walk, run or cycle the rest of the way. Every little helps. Set an earlier alarm (sorry) Whilst this is probably the tip that nobody wanted to hear, a great way of making time for exercise is to set your alarm earlier to give yourself extra time in the day. 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The best part about this strategy is no early alarm, no late finish time… just time to yourself in the middle of the work day to not only smash out your workout for the day, but have some well-deserved time to yourself in amongst the office chaos. Sounds good (and productive) to us. Make every task count Waiting for your food to cook in the microwave? Do some star jumps. You may look a little crazy in the shared office kitchen, but so be it. No pain no gain, right? Want to watch your favourite TV show after work? Why not watch it whilst on the treadmill at the gym. Need to take the dog for a walk? Make that lap round the field two laps. Need to grab some milk and bread from the store? Walk, don’t drive. Little changes here and there add up to an overall healthier and more active lifestyle. At the end of the day, fitting in exercise doesn’t strictly refer to going to the gym or heading out for a run. Like we said… every little helps. 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Whilst it can be tempting to cancel, post-pone or even neglect our exercise routines as a result of the demands of work, relationships or otherwise, fitting in exercise needs to become a priority. Period. If you’re struggling or are unsure of how to make time for exercise, give one (or all) of our above tips a go. Find out which tip for fitting in exercise works best for you and start your fitness schedule. Exercise and working out is a hugely important part of your schedule, so it’s time to start treating exercise like a priority. Self-care 101. References SME News. 2021. New survey reveals large regional differences in workers’ commuting experience - SME News. [online]. Click here. Brain Pickings. 2021. Popiva, M. How Long It Takes To Form A New Habit. [online]. Click here. Read more

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