Fartlek Training for Cyclists - How to Improve Your Cycling Endurance

Coined after the Swedish term "Fartlek", which translates to "speed play", the Fartlek training method aims to improve your cycling speed and endurance by increasing your lactate threshold, which is thought to impact your speed directly. Introduced initially to train runners, it incorporates different pacing used for various distances within the same training session[1].

Today, we can apply Fartlek training for any discipline or sport. It can be an enjoyable way to train and a fun way to improve your cycling endurance.

What is Fartlek cycling? 

When applied to cycling, Fartlek sets the pace of your training session. In this less structured form of interval training, you can gauge your effort and alternate between your highest and lowest speed thresholds.[2]

Fartlek is, in fact, one of the most well-known modes of interval training for cyclists. Not only is it a great way to improve your cycling endurance and stamina, but it can also help you push yourself to new levels as you train with your bike.

What Are The Benefits of Fartlek Training?

Fartlek training increases an athlete's general aerobic capacity by alternating between short intensive efforts and more prolonged and moderate efforts. Listed below are some of the advantages of Fartlek training:[3]

1. Flexible routine

Unlike regular interval training, in Fartlek, your intervals do not have to be fixed based on a predetermined timing schedule. It allows more room for flexibility and spontaneity as you can listen to your body and pace yourself based on how it feels.

2. Improve strength

Fartlek training helps to improve leg strength and power, which is essential for cyclists to achieve optimal performance.

 3. It helps maintain heart rate variability

Fartlek training helps cyclists to maintain a high heart rate (heart rate variability) during exercise. Increased heart rate variability means that the heart is beating at its most effectual rate and that blood is being pumped efficiently to all areas of the body.

4. Improves lactate threshold

Fartlek training helps cyclists improve their lactate threshold, which is when the heart begins to use lactate as a fuel source. A higher lactate threshold means that cyclists can exercise longer and further before the limit of their aerobic capacity is reached.[4]

5. Improve endurance

Fartlek training helps in building cycling endurance and stamina that enable cyclists to ride for extended periods with ease.


Why is Fartlek Training Good for Cardiovascular Endurance?

Cardiovascular endurance[5] measures how well you can engage in exercises that involve your entire body where it is working at moderate to high-intensity training for extended periods of time.

Interval training workouts such as Fartlek training is the ideal mode of building cardio endurance. Its intensity and speed variations enable the aerobic and anaerobic systems to kick into action.

By improving your cardiovascular endurance, you can have more energy for your day-to-day activities and reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. 

What Does a Fartlek Training Workout Look Like?

Here's an example of a Fartlek interval training aimed at improving pedaling efficiency[6]:

  • Incorporate 10-speed intervals and ensure to warm-up for 15 minutes before the workout
  • Pedal as hard as possible for 10 seconds (use a gear you can push to about 90-110 RPM)
  • Allow 20 seconds for recovery
  • Pedal easy for 5 minutes
  • Return to another all-out spin at 90 to 110 RPM for 10 seconds
  • Recover for 20 seconds and peddle easy for 5 minutes
  • Continue set for 10 to 15 minutes

Engaging in Fartlek training can help you achieve optimal cadence in cycling, which is the amount of RPM you can accomplish at a given speed.[7]

Recovery Methods After a High-Intensity Fartlek Cycling Training Session

If you regularly engage in Fartlek bike workouts, here are a few cycling recovery tips that would be useful to ease soreness in your legs post-training:

  • Stretch out your calves

It's essential to stretch out your muscles after a leg workout to cool down properly. By taking the time to stretch and cool down after your training, you can encourage post cycling recovery and prevent muscle injuries from taking place.

  • Take an ice bath

Taking an ice bath after training can aid muscle recovery from cycling as it helps reduce inflammation and encourages built-up lactic acids to get flushed out of the system.

  • Use a compression device

Compression devices like SPRYNG compression wraps are the ideal home remedy for leg pain and sore muscle after cycling. SPRYNG uses active compression to promote blood circulation in your leg muscles, thereby alleviating pain and swelling in your muscles post workout.










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