If you often catch yourself scrolling through the peachy bums of Instagram, thinking ‘why don’t my thighs look like that?’, 1. It’s probably filtered and 2. Put down the packet of crisps and try adding a new type of exercise to your workout repertoire.
Why? Because you can’t cook a three-course meal using one ingredient, and you can’t expect to see or feel changes in your body by only doing one type of exercise.
So let us introduce you to the latest type of training that’s about to blow HIIT classes and F45 out of the water. Not to mention, it won’t cost you a penny.
What is Fartlek?
Fartlek is a Swedish term meaning ‘speed play’. Sure, it still sounds dirty but it has nothing to do with your flatulence.
“Fartlek is based on the idea of unstructured interval training and imitation of real-life sports and real-life physical activity of animals and humans, which is never structured”, says Georgios Tzenichristos, cellulite specialist and Director at Lipotherapeia.
Basically, the rules are there aren’t any rules. It’s a random alternation of pace, whether the activity is running, cycling, rowing or swimming.
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Is Fartlek just interval training?
It may sound similar to interval training, but interval training still has a pattern (typically high intensity, to low intensity, then rest and repeat), whereas fartlek is completely random and different every time.
For example, if you were running, you could jog, then run super fast, then go to a medium pace, and then super fast again or walk if you were tired, it’s all up to you.
“Slow interval training activates aerobic metabolism somewhat, and fast interval training works mainly anaerobically”, says Giorgio. “But fartlek, due to its large variations in intensity/speed, can be both types of interval training (slow and fast, aerobic and anaerobic) in the same workout and in a playful manner.”
What are the benefits of fartlek training?
As it activates both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, it can boost overall metabolism even more than interval training.
“Given that a boost in metabolism is a must for weight loss and also for cellulite removal, this can only be good for both your health and your figure”, says Giorgio. “In fact it can be said that fartlek training is the most fun anti-cellulite training regime, as it combines both mechanical stimulation and a serious metabolism hike.”
If you’re employing the fartlek method in your running, it will engage the gluteus maximus which is ideal for a bum lifting effect. But you’ll still have to work hard to see results…
“If you do fartlek once a week, in addition to your other, structured, workouts, you should see an overall increase in motivation and fitness in a month or so. It all depends on how often and how hard you train”, says Giorgio. “I would not do it more than twice a week, as it is also good to do structured training.”
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Fartlek training exercises to try
As with all training, start using the fartlek method conservatively and increase intensity as you get fitter and more experienced.
An easy way to try the fartlek method is on a treadmill. “Most treadmills have a random pace option on their programmes”, says Giorgio. “And you can also adjust the inclination of manually for extra “randomness” and variation in intensity.”
The same goes for rowing and cycling machines in the gym or at home.
If running outside, try finding a route that includes both uphill and downhill, and avoid concrete as much as possible for softer footing.
In terms of classes, Giorgio says spin classes are quite close to fartlek training because of the random changes in speed and inclination.
But the beauty of this training method is that you DON’T need equipment, a routine or classes to do it, it’s just all up to you.