Fartlek was developed by Swedish people as a training method in the 1960s and 1970s. It means “speed game” because it is based on running exercises that alternate acceleration and recovery phases, but in a different way from interval training. Fartlek is very present in running and is becoming present in professional and amateur football.
What is Fartlek?
To summarize it, it can be considered as a split job but included during a running session. Instead of doing 30/30 or 400m sessions around a track with a steady acceleration and slow recovery (= trotting), fartlek consists in including fast phases (notion of interval to increase the running speed) but within an aerobic workout.
In concrete terms, when you go faster, you will not leave too quickly, as in a pure VO2 max exercise, but when you recover a little faster. The objective is to adjust the speed between the acceleration (your limit) and recovery phases.
- A 30/30 work in VO2max for someone with a VO2max of 16km/h will consist of doing 30 seconds around 17km/h and 30 seconds of recovery around 7km/h.
- In Fartlek, on a 30-minute job, you will do for example 2 laps at 11km/h and then 1 lap at 15km/h, having warmed up well before the session, it goes without saying).
Benefits of fartlek
This type of training is particularly psychologically interesting, it avoids imposing a track that is not welcoming. The recovery is done at a more sustained pace and it is a fun fractionated work. In addition, the Maximum Heart Rate is interesting to take as a reference if you have the right equipment. In short, fartlek is really very interesting to work with and more fun than just VO2max.
Its only theoretical weakness is to work well at the right speed, whether during acceleration or recovery. It is up to each player to be responsible.
Examples of fartlek football
You will find in the following article 2 specific examples of fartlek exercise adapted to football:
See exercise Fartlek foot
More information: For those who want the official definition, we guide you to Wikipedia’s definition.
The Prepa Physique Team