Cultures across the world have recognized the value of High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. It strengthens the muscles of the heart and helps you burn body fat. This burns not just from your regular store-house of fat but also the fat in your muscles. The twin benefits are invaluable for long term health. There are various forms of doing this. Fartlek, which means speed training is an interesting version of HIIT. In Fartlek, you combine continuous training with high intensity. For example, you can go for a long run (continuous) and combine it with periods of high intensity where you are running at speed. If you are a beginner you could try a walking / jogging combine. Fartlek does not have to be tremendously strenuous. If you are running, every 6-7 minutes, you just need to run say 20% faster for about 20 seconds and then revert to your normal speed.

Fartlek was designed by Swedish coach Gosta Holmer in 1937. He wanted the Swedish cross country team to outperform competition. The Swedish team until then had been regularly been beaten by the Finns. Just in the past thirty years, the Swedes have won 11 times in cross country. Fartlek is a little different from other HIIT as it helps you work both your aerobic and anaerobic systems. This helps you train for the ebb and flow of long distance running.

Building Fartlek into your regular exercise routine positively impacts your health. This is because your body adapts to what ever you do. Imagine you are running 5 miles a day three times a week. Before long, your body will get used to (yes, if you can believe it) this work out. You therefore need to vary this routine or add levels of difficulty to this. Fartlek is the perfect solution to build variability and intensity to a routine.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.