Circuit training is usually performed in a very structured way. Often you perform a series of exercises for a set me or a set number of repetitions (normally the former), then do a recovery jogger something similar, again of a set time. Fartlek training is especially associated with running. It’s a Swedish word meaning ‘speed play’ and is a kind of freestyle, often cross country, run where you mix up the speeds at random, alternating between sprinting, steady running, gentle jog, walk even, according to the way you feel, in theory, although it can be more structured if you wish. It’s a good stepping stone pre-season before you do more structured intervals, perhaps on the track.
I’m sure it’s not new but I like to mix up the two to make “Fartlek Circuits’. For example, this morning, I wanted a quick whole body workout as a change from my normal early morning run. I jogged up to the local playing field and then did some very short really hard sprints. Then I stopped and did some press ups, ran some more, did some lunge walking, ran some more, stopped and did some tricep dips on a bench, sprinted across the field again and did some hanging on a bar. After 45 minutes I was totally done in but felt great. When I added it up I had done about 5 kms of running, 100 squats, 50 press ups, 50 tricep dips, 2 planks, 20 tuck jumps, lunge walking, bike crunches, 50 supermen and a few more things.
This is a great fun way to train, especially in the fresh air of the early morning, with no equipment needed other than what’s in the field. You can literally just do whatever exercise you want the you want to and stop when you’ve had enough. Therefore it’s perfect for all abilities – you can even walk instead of run and adapt the exercises as you like – just move the body in as many ways as possible. Much better than a structured session in a stuffy gym if you ask me.
David Perry, Fitness and Weight Management Specialist and Personal Trainer.