I believe that one of the most common mistakes a woman makes, whilst trying to get fit and healthy, is hours and hours of cardio. Now, I don’t mean that cardio is not good for you. Any form of cardio or exercise is good for your health. However, your body is extremely good at adapting, so if you are not mixing things up, your results might slow down or even come to a complete halt, which is the last thing you want. When I do cardio, I rather do HIIT sessions or even fartlek. If you have bought my F.I.T. programs you are already familiar with my HIIT workouts, and why I like to keep the body guessing. This is why I thought I might give you another tool to use, getting that fit and healthy body.
Fartlek, or speed play, is a training method where you blend regular cardio (steady state) with interval training. It is not a structured training session like HIIT, which also makes fartlek so much fun. So, if you are like me and don’t like doing hours on end of steady state cardio, or if you hate doing interval training, why not try this method?
Below are my top 5 fartlek sessions
Always ensure that you warm up properly before commencing any workout. And don’t forget to stretch afterwards!
After you have warmed up, take aim at a landmark and run towards it at a higher speed (at 70% of perceived effort). Once you have reached this landmark, slow down and run to another landmark at a recovery pace. Then, pick a third landmark and run at a faster pace than before (at 80% of perceived effort). Repeat by running at varying speeds between different landmarks.
2. Stair sprints
Stairs might not be the first thing you think about when you are planning a fartlek session, but this will definitely make your legs burn. Find a set of stairs that are fairly long. Run up the stairs at a faster pace. Walk down the stairs at a slow pace to recover. Run up the stairs again, but at a faster pace than before. Repeat by running up the stairs at varying speeds.
3. Hill sprints - fartlek style
You can also use a hill for your fartlek sessions. However, in addition to only using your speed to play around with, you can also try getting up the hill by sidestepping, or going backwards. This will target the muscles in your legs differently, and you should definitely feel it at the end of the session.
4. Play with the dog
If you have a dog you can include a bit of fartlek nearly on a daily basis. Play with them in a park, chase them or let them chase you. This is a great fartlek that is heaps of fun. If you don’t have a dog, you can always play tag with the kids.
After you have warmed up, start at one streetlight and run towards the next at a higher pace (at 70% of perceived effort). If the streetlights are too close, you can choose a streetlight slightly further away. Once you have reached this streetlight, slow down and run to another streetlight at a recovery pace. Then, pick a third streetlight and run at a faster pace than before (at 80% of perceived effort). Repeat by running at varying speeds between the streetlights.
To ensure that you progress you can try to gradually increase any of these variables: distance, duration of effort, or pace.
So, these are my top 5 fartlek sessions. Remember that your fartlek session can be at any intensity you like, and you can change the intensity depending on how you are feeling on the day. When I have been travelling and am exhausted after the long trip, I tend to decrease the intensity in my next workout. Other days, when I am buzzing with energy, I am able to increase the intensity in my workouts. It is important that you listen to your body! However, don’t become comfortable, you will still need to push yourself to see results!
If the weather does not allow you to train outdoors, it is not a reason to panic. You can bring fartlek indoors. You can use a skipping rope and just alter the speed at which you skip. You can also do fartlek at the gym. Use a treadmill, cross trainer, or another cardio machine and adjust the resistance, or the speed at which you are exercising. Your options are endless!
Have you tried fartlek before? If not, I hope that you will give it a go and that you will enjoy it as much as do!