Forget HIIT, fartlek is the hottest training method for smooth legs this summer

You may have never heard of it, and the name may strike you as a primary school joke, but fartlek training (meaning 'speed play' in Swedish) is probably the most fun way to get fit without spending half a day in the gym, having to follow strict rules or getting bored.

The little known, outside the running world, fartlek training method originated 80 years ago and is a more fun version of interval training. As it activates both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, it can boost overall metabolism even more than interval training.

“Given that a boost in metabolism is a must for weight loss and also for cellulite removal, this can only be good for both your health and your figure. In fact it can be said that fartlek training is the most fun anti-cellulite training regime, as it combines both mechanical stimulation and a serious metabolism hike.”, Georgios Tzenichristos, ex-competitive runner and cellulite specialist at London clinic LipoTherapeia, says.

Also, given that running engages the gluteus maximus (the ‘bum lift’ muscle), ‘fartleks’ are ideal for bum lifting - always welcome in the summer.

So how can you do it? Fartlek training couldn’t be simpler. Start with ten minutes of jogging, break for five minutes of stretching and then start “play-running”, as you wish. Yes, it’s that simple.

“Run fast for a bit, then slow, then medium-fast, then walk, then sprint, then medium-slow etc. Do you have hills in your area? Incorporate random uphill and downhill running into your routine. Are there steps? Do them. Do you feel tired? Walk for a bit. Do you feel more energetic? Add more fast sprints. You’re the boss.” Georgios says.

“Sometimes people get all neurotic about their training. It can be said that fartlek is the least obsessive-compulsive of all training methods: there is no compulsion about it whatsoever.”, Georgios adds.

If this sounds like a recipe for losing your discipline, this could not be further from the truth. Even if you start slow and tired, play-running actually increases your motivation to run more or faster, because it is fun.

After you finish your speed-play, spend five minutes stretching and do ten more minutes of slow jogging to cool down.

How long should the play-run last? It's up to you again: ten minutes are great, twenty are better, thirty are really good and forty are probably too much for most people. So you have a complete “quality workout” in a total of forty to sixty minutes, including warming up, stretching and cooling down.

A heart rate monitor is ideal to assess how much effort you put into your run, but it is not absolutely necessary and not much else is needed: no books, no apps, no programs. Again, you’re the boss.

Just put on your trainers, start play-running and see your fitness take off and your legs tone and smoothen up, without the planning, counting and thinking required for interval training.

PS: Although originally developed for runners, the principle of speed-play can be applied in the pool, on the rowing machine, on the bike, on the elliptical machine, everywhere. 

PS 2: Oh yes, and one more tip: if you are going to eat carbs after a good fartlek workout, do so immediately after your training, not before, as this is the optimal time to “carb-load” (this has been known to runners for decades, but most people are unaware of it). This will ensure the carbs go into your muscles and liver for use the day after, not in your bum and thighs.

Georgios offers extensive information and lots of advice on training for cellulite and skin toning at

(If in doubt of your cardiovascular health, always consult your doctor before starting any training regime)


For more information on Georgios’ cellulite and skin tightening treatments, based on high-power, deep-acting radiofrequency and multiple natural skin tightening actives, please check

Meso-CRF® Body treatments are exclusively available at LipoTherapeia, 151 Sydney Street, Chelsea, London, SW3 6NT. Appointments can be booked at or on 02071182014.

Georgios can be contacted at and on 02071182014.