Fartlek training

Fartlek training and its structure

July 30, 2018

What does the word Fartlek training sound like? I do not know about you but it sounds like Swedish to me. Indeed, this is a training discipline rather for the already experts and those who have worked well in their physical form and background. We have all practiced this type of training, what happens is that nobody remembers, but in high school they made us climb the steps of the track, lower them, go around the track, etc. If you still hear us, keep reading these lines.

Surely sometime in your school or institute time, you have heard the teacher say “today we are going to do the fartlek test”. Well, we will explain what it consists of, the variants that we can make at any time and the structure of a classic fartlek session like those that we can practice outdoors or in a specialized gym. Keep reading: A proposal of exercises for the tennis footwork in training

What is the Fartlek training?

Fartlek training

When we speak of fartlek we refer to a very complete training, composed of different rhythm changes at different intensities and speeds. This name comes from Anglicism “continuous variable”, and was recorded by the Swedish Gosse Holmer in 1930, but put more into practice and popularized by Gösta Olander about 1940.

The first modality of Fartlek did not have a pre-established circuit. So, it was done in a natural terrain, full of slopes and obstacles. In this way, the runner or athlete had to improvise and accelerate at different times of training. An abrupt terrain requires great dexterity and balance in knees, ankles, and arms to be able to carry out a training in conditions. At that time they did not have GPS or pulsometers, so they had to control their pulsations and monitor the unevenness by eye.

Two fartlek modes

Fartlek training

For starters

For those who have never practiced this type of training, but if you already have a base of aerobic resistance with which you control your rhythms in a normal race, here is an example of a session structure based on the Swedish fartlek ( for times). In the same way, we show you the benefits of fartlek if you train consistently and correctly during a medium-long period of time:


  • 15 minutes of warm-up
  • 3 sets of: 2 minutes in the race + 1 minute of recovery
  • 2 minutes of recovery through smooth running
  • 3 sets of: 2 minutes in the race + 1 minute of recovery
  • 10 minutes back to calm


Improve your aerobic capacity, your running speed and muscle strength

Makes you fit for different aerobic workouts

Give clues to your possibilities and your physical limits

Assimilation of the changes of rhythm

Improve your breathing adapting it to harder rhythms

Change of rhythm in sand

We must know that…

Fartlek training

What is really important in a fartlek session is the quality with which the exercises and the necessary changes of rhythm are made. Going from an anaerobic to an aerobic phase and vice versa is complicated, and not everyone can do it. We must first get a physical and pulmonary background to train the fartlek correctly. Our heart rate should oscillate between 140-170 beats per minute, so the duration of training should not exceed 45 minutes for a person who has just started with this method.

Fartlek training

To work physical background, the session should last about 60 minutes. If on the contrary, we want to develop and bring to a better level our background, we will have to work for 40-60 minutes of the session. And in the case where our goal is in speed training, the session to be developed should last a maximum of 30 minutes and a minimum of 20. We must also bear in mind that a fartlek training can be given according to three aspects, by times, by distances and by terrain.

Fartlek training by terrain

Fartlek training

In this Fartlek training class, we will work hard on the ups and downs of the terrain. With controlled and calm descents and explosive climbs in places of very abrupt terrain. Here we will require a more developed and prepared physical form, as well as a control of our heart rate. For example, after a climb we can wait, while trotting and descending, to have our beats down to 145 and then make a climb to take them up to 180. You might also like: http://linkfeel.com/gear-sports-fishing-newbies/