Get fitter on every ride with Fartlek

Speedplay interval training gives you benefits not boredom

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Many mountain bikers have an awareness of how interval training can benefit fitness – but most of us would far rather concentrate on just hitting the trails.


Fartlek (stop sniggering, it means ‘speedplay’ in Swedish) is a less structured approach to interval training, based on gauging your effort on a scale of one to 10, where one is where you literally couldn’t pedal any slower, and 10 is the point where strain-induced vomiting isn’t far away.

As you’re riding, try setting mini-targets, like “I‘ll go 5/10 for the next five minutes, until I reach the next section of singletrack”, or “8/10 to the crossroads up ahead”. It’s good to do this with friends, racing one another to landmarks and setting the pace – basically it doesn’t get in the way of your ride being about getting on your bike and having fun.

Related: Get ready to ride with the car park warm-up

It’s important to condition your body for high-intensity sections, by riding steadily for 15-20 minutess or by doing a warmup.

Also, be sensible and safe around where you do it – obviously that means not running red lights if you’re on roads, and being aware of other users on the trail. If you’re a newbie as far as intense exercise goes, take a few weeks to build up – this will enable you to make long-term progress while avoiding injury.

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Stay tuned for more videos from MTB Strength Factory in our Hacks series.