Fartlek 全速疾跑间歇训练作为我的陈家沟武术训练身体素质练习

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Fartlek SIT as general body exercise in my Chenjiagou Wushu training routine

Fartlek 全速疾跑间歇训练作为我的陈家沟武术训练身体素质练习

Fartlek quánsù jí pǎo jiànxiē xùnliàn zuòwéi wǒ de chén jiā gōu wǔshù xùnliàn shēntǐ sùzhì liànxí

Stefano Zamblera – 羞龍Xiulong1

E-mail: afettoxiulong@gmail.com

Published 27/02/2023


This paper is written with focus on Fartlek Sprint Interval Training (SIT) running as part of general body exercise condition into my orthodox Wushu boxing method of Chenjiagou (Henan, China) training routine, Chinese 陈家沟武术训练身体素质练习Chénjiāgōu wǔshù xùnliàn shēntǐ sùzhì liànxí.

According to 2019 research[1] data retrieved by systematic screening of daily Chenjiagou Wushu training, was possible to identify peculiar products obtained by Chen daily workouts which emerged as an effective training tool able to conditioning muscular resistance, with discrete aerobic an anaerobic component, with lactacid power training factor, developing resistance power quality and conditioning organism to maintain high power outputs with incomplete recovers.

Dominant energetic system is anaerobic alactacid ATP–CP system (Phosphagen system), Phosphocreatine and Glycogen principal energy substrates, with power and resistant power limiting factors with the equivalence to a mixed training regime.

On the other hand, adopting and flanking alternative mixed training regime able to expand the boundaries in which Chenjiagou Wushu training moves could be considered as a strategy to improve Chen skills.

As repetition of Taolu belongs to aerobic / anaerobic alternate exercise physiology regime, with use of alactacyd (ATP–CP) for supply power phases whilst aerobic system mostly active during Taolu linking slowest movements granting training duration, cleans up the metabolites and allows Phosphocreatine resynthesis, thus an improving and boosting aerobic / anaerobic exercise physiology regime etc., is here suggested as a possible strategy to be adopted to gain dexterity when back to Chen practice.

In the same optic, as Chen plays isometrics with upper (empty isometries) and lower limbs, pitch in a mixed constantly alternating alactacid-lactacid aerobic system, thus a similar motorial activity tool working and improving limits and capacities into alternating alactacid-lactacid aerobic system could be adopted for better performances whence back to Chenjiagou Wushu practice.

Taking account of Physiology of Sport and exercise literature available and Wushu training curricula, research quickly verted to interval training panorama as the ambit to draw from, with Fartlek SIT in the variance of 4x(5x[30” slow, 20” steady, 10” fast/sprint], 120” slow recovery) running core.

Keywords: Wushu, Chenjiagou, training, SIT, HIIT, LSD, running, physiology of physical training

[1] Zamblera S., 2019.

1. Chenjiagou boxing training

According to tradition of 朱Zhu family Chen boxing method, typical training workout is made by 4 main instruments:

1) 缠丝功 Chansigong – silk spinning exercise

2) 套路 Taolu – form, routine of movements

3) 推手 Tuishou – pushing hands

4) 散手 Sanshou – sparring, fighting

1.1 缠丝功Chansigong – silk spinning exercise

The term 缠丝功Chansigong – lit. silk spinning workout, is made by ideographs 缠丝Chansi – to spin, to wind-up a string, rotatory regular movement as typical of handicraft silk spinning manufacture, and ideograph 功Gong – work, training, workout.

This term is used to describe a set of physical exercises made by limbs on spiroid and circular trajectories, with inner to outer and vice versa continuous and repetitive rotations, focused about recurring and most Chen peculiar modality of the whole-body usage rotation and torsion training.

According to 朱天才Zhu Tiancai they are 9: 2 by single arm and 7 by both arms[1].

As well specified by Tiancai’s son too, 朱向前Zhu Xiangqian, Chansigong training has to be meant a productive workout able to develop peculiar dexterity of Chen boxing method, and this training tool is focused about the same dexterity worked by and within 老架一路Laojia Yilu – old frame 1st routine[2].

According to Tiancai and Xiangqian, Chansigong is meant to be considered 功夫拳Gongfuquan, an effective tool made for the practical and successful development of boxing abilities like 柔劲Rou Jin – soft force, and 缠丝劲Chansi Jin – spinning spiral force, soft rotation and torsion.

1.2 套路Taolu – routine of movements

By the term 套路Taolu is meant a sequel of predetermined movement, to be played alone, whose equivalent may be considered the 型 (o形) Kata of Japanese martial arts.

Taolu are often named “forms” or “routines”.

Chenjiagou orthodox boxing system contemplates bare-hand and weapon Taolu.

1.2.1 Bare-hand Taolu

陈氏太极拳老架一路 Chen Shi Taijiquan Laojia Yilu

Chen family Taiji boxing old frame first routine

As introduced upper, in this study Laojia Yilu is substituted by Chansigong workout.

陈氏太极拳老架二路炮捶 Chen Shi Taijiquan Laojia Erlu Paochui

Chen family Taiji boxing old frame second routine “Cannon shots” 

陈氏太极拳新架一路 Chen Shi Taijiquan Xinjia Yilu

Chen family Taiji boxing new frame first routine

陈氏太极拳新架二路炮捶 Chen Shi Taijiquan Xinjia Erlu Paochui

Chen family Taiji boxing new frame second routine “Cannon shots” 

陈氏太极拳42发劲 Chen Shi Taijiquan 42 Fajin

Chen family Taiji boxing 42 releases of energy

1.2.2 Weapon Taolu

陈氏太极单刀 Chen Shi Taiji Dan Dao

Chen family Taiji boxing single  broadsword

陈氏太极双刀 Chen Shi Taiji Shuang Dao

Chen family Taiji boxing double broadsword

陈氏太极剑 Chen Shi Taiji Jian

Chen family Taiji sword

陈氏太极枪 (梨花枪夹白猿棍)Chen Shi Taiji Qiang (Lihua Qiang Jia Bai Yuan Gùn)

Chen family Taiji Spear (Pear flower spear, white monkey staff)

陈氏太极春秋大刀 Chen Shi Taiji Chun Qiu Dadao

Chen family Taiji “Spring and Autumn” big saber

1.3 推手Tuishou – pushing hands.

Exercise played in couple focused about main 掤 Peng, 捋Lu, 按 An, 擠 Ji, 採 Cai, 挒 Lie, 肘 Zhou, 靠 Kao forces, methods and applications.

1.4 散手 Sanshou – sparring, fighting

Free fighting and/or particular rules bound fighting.  Various struggling and fighting confrontation.

[1] Zhu,  1994

[2] Zhu, 2005

2 Chenjiagou wushu: my training products

After and according to author 2019 researches[1] deepen into analysis of effective scores and products of daily Wushu, according to Dr. Marturano interpretation of data retrieved, Chen boxing training emerged as a workout core able to produce muscular resistance, featured by a discrete component both aerobic an anaerobic, with lactacid power training factor.

By Chen’s pertinent conditioning methods, according to data recorded, its training results as a motorial activity tool able to develop resistance power quality and conditioning organism to maintain high power outputs with incomplete recovers.

Conditioning resulted is equivalent to a mixed training regime: Chen practice has the effects of physical preparation made by mixed and various method exercises, concentric, isometric and eccentric.

Dominant energetic system is anaerobic alactacid ATP–CP system (Phosphagen system), Phosphocreatine and Glycogen principal energy substrates, with power and resistant power limiting factors.

Repetition of Taolu, according to Marturano’s interpretation, belongs to aerobic / anaerobic alternate exercise physiology regime, as alactacyd (ATP–CP) is used for supply power phases whilst aerobic system mostly active during Taolu linking slowest movements, grants training duration, cleans up the metabolites and allows Phosphocreatine resynthesis; isometrics practiced by upper (empty isometries) and lower limbs, pitch in a mixed constantly alternating alactacid-lactacid aerobic system; similar motorial activity tool could be identifies into elevation-gain walking / running.

[1] Zamblera S., 2019

3. Fartlek SIT – Speed Interval Training

Fartlek is a Swedish word that means “speed play” and designates a popular training method widely used by runners[1] developed in the late 1930s by Swedish Olympian Gösta Holmér, and it consists in a simultaneous speed and endurance workout, specifically an endurance training session intermixed with short moments when the race speed is higher than that used in a competition[2].

Fartlek training, as well as its general association with running, can in principle be incorporated into almost any kind of exercise by alternating periods of faster and slower activities intermixed; when walking/cycling/running fartlek form includes long slow distance (LSD) training, often over natural terrain outdoors, including over both “level and hilly terrain”, featured by variable intensities and continuous nature of the exercise to impact both the aerobic and anaerobic parts of physiology[3].  

Fartlek training was introduced in the United States, in the 1940s. By the 1960’s, in the hands of Doris Brown Heritage fartlek workouts had become assigned to 20-minute sessions beginning and ending with mile runs, between which were sandwiched an unstructured intermix of “40 to 200-yard sprints and five to seven minute segment perceived exertions” [4].  

3.1 Types of Fartlek

Fartlek methods developed over time in three directions: the usual free fartlek, the semi-coded (semi-programmed) exercise and the perfectly planned running [5].

Free variant, the best known and most used, with running pace and duration not predetermined: exercise is performed in full freedom, as the athlete feels: uphill, downhill, on flat ground, over short and fast distances or over long but slower distances. The runner can use the relief or can integrate running exercises (with knees up, with heels to the buttocks), jumps, steps, everything being left to their will. The focus is less on the amount of effort and more on its intensity.

The playful nature of this variant ensures uniqueness to the preparation of leisure runners. Free fartlek perfectly fits the skilled athletes who want to make the transition to interval training, or who resume their training after an injury or a poor shape period. It has the advantage of a rapid progress in the knowledge of one’s physical potential, but also the disadvantage that it does not stimulate specific work towards reaching the established performance goal.

Semi-programmed variant foresees that amount and toughness of physical exercise to be largely predetermined. 

Even if the runner is not limited to a certain speed, the proposed running time implicitly gives indications on intensity and sets the objective of the training session. However, the perception of exercise intensity is a sense that the athlete must improve.

This variant not only allows, but even requires working at an appropriate intensity to reach the proposed objective. 

It has the disadvantage of claiming a certain level of experience, because the athlete often tends to use a wrong pace (generally, too fast), which leads to difficulties in performing the next sessions.

Perfectly planned fartlek is similar to track training, with everything dosed in advance: exercise timeframe, recovery time, intensity that has to be reached and maintained, etc…

The feature of this type of training is the perfectly planned route, supported by devices that display real-time heart rate (running intensity) and other parameters prefixed for specific targets, with the lowest possible margin of error relative to those scores. 

Every Fartlek session requires a common minimum organization starting with appropriate warming-up and ending cool-down phases, moreover athletes should get involved in a previous period of adaptation and general physical preparation[6].

3.2 Fartlek sessions

Typical Fartlek session may could be structured by a selection of a landmark (for instance, a tree or a public lighting pole) to which run with the proposed speed (for example, 75% of maximum speed), then the intensity (speed) is reduced to that used in the recovery jogging ‘till next landmark.

According to Tifrea 2022, a timeframe can be set for the training session, for example 45 minutes, assuring that by this durance the anaerobic, aerobic and mixed systems will be engaged. 

For this, running can be performed on uneven ground (field, park, forest, hill, sawdust track, road) and/or in different conditions (snow, soft ground) and will consist of 50 m uphill sprinting, sustained repetitions over the distance of 1,000 m, downhill running with large strides, all of them interspersed with jogging or even walking[7].

According to Gilles Dorval, a French cross-country coach[8], replacing landmarks with time sequences was necessary to create a productive session which could be structured as following:

20’ warm-up running at 70-75% of maximum HR;

3 accelerations of 30” each at 95-100% of maximum aerobic speed, with 1’ of slow jogging between them;

3 accelerations of 1’ each at 95% of maximum aerobic speed, fragmented by 1’30” of slow jogging (or more, if necessary);

3 accelerations of 2’ each at 90-95% of maximum aerobic speed, with 2’ of slow jogging (or more, if necessary) between them;

3 accelerations of 1’ each at 95% of maximum aerobic speed, fragmented by 1’30” of slow jogging (or more, if necessary);

3 accelerations of 30” each at 95-100% of maximum aerobic speed, with 1’ of slow jogging between them;

15’ of slow jogging at 75% of maximum HR

According to Steve Moneghetti[9],  marathon runner, multiple medallist at major competitions, a good Fartlek workout consists of:

2×90 seconds at a slightly faster pace, with 90 seconds of mild running between series;

4×60 seconds, with 60 seconds of mild running between series;

4 x30 seconds, with 30 seconds of mild running between series;

4×15 seconds, with 15 seconds of mild running between series.

Following Jack Daniels[10], athlete should not use distance or time, but strides: it involves a pyramid that starts with 10 fast strides, 10 slow strides, continuing with 20 fast strides, 20 slow strides, 30-30… until 100 fast strides, 100 slow strides, and then decreasing by 10 until the starting series is reached.

According to Ivan and colleagues[11] and Yadav 2013 Fartlek could be used for the development of maximum aerobic speed by a 10×45” of high-speed repetitions alternating with 1’15” of rest, slow jogging.

According to Dorval[12] development of maximum aerobic speed could be grant by Fartlek workout structured as:

30 seconds fast / 30 seconds slow

1 minute fast / 1 minute slow

1 minute and 30 seconds fast / 1 minute slow

2 minutes fast / 1 minute slow

2 minutes fast / 1 minute slow

1 minute and 30 seconds fast / 1 minute slow

1 minute fast / 1 minute slow

30 seconds fast / 30 seconds slow

3.3 Fartlek products

Fartlek IST approach, as peculiar LSD kind workout, is an aerobic endurance training, base training and Zone 2 training, with physiological adaptations including improved cardiovascular function, improved thermoregulatory function, improved mitochondrial energy production, increased oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle, and increased utilization of fat for fuel[13].

Mc.Ardle and colleagues demonstrated that repetition and alternation of variable intensities, from slow to steady to fast pace, moderate-high aerobic intensity (where by this is implied a level of activity at 60-80% VO2max) and interval training structure with spacing of more intense exercise and rest intervals, Fartlek IST can simply be described as alternating periods of faster and slower exercise (i.e., running), intermixed[14]: from their perspective of exercise physiology, when properly applied a fartlek training approach overloads one or all of the energy systems, and so provides ideal general conditioning and off-season training strategies [adding] freedom and variety to workouts.

According to Gunnarson and Bangsbo, 2012 effect of an alteration from regular endurance to interval 30” slow 20” steady 10” fast pace training on the health profile, muscular adaptations, maximum oxygen uptake (Vo(2max)), and performance of runners shows that interval training with short 10-s near-maximal bouts can improve performance and Vo(2max) despite a ∼50% reduction in training volume. 

In addition, the 30-20-10 training regime lowers resting systolic blood pressure and blood cholesterol, suggesting a beneficial effect on the health profile of already trained individuals[15].

Buchheit and colleagues found in Fartlek an effective SIT program to improve a general player’s aerobic capacity as it induces skeletal muscle metabolism, increases capillaries and mitochondrial proliferation, enhances oxidase activity and improves peripheral vascular function and peripheral fitness of skeletal muscle[16]

Koral et.Al studies demonstrated that when training intensity exceeded 90%VO2max, SIT could simultaneously improve oxygen uptake and transport ability of the cardiopulmonary system and skeletal muscle. Koral developed Ermanno’s intuition about intermittent exercises as Fartlek SIT is to be able to activate the energy supply of the aerobic system in advance and reduce the proportion of the energy supply of the anaerobic system, thus delaying the generation of fatigue. These changes in the body were physiological feedback for SIT: while training is improving the player’s ability to maintain high-intensity exercise for a long time in competition and training, their ability to recover could be improved, consequently achieving the goal of improving aerobic capacity [17]. According to Connolly 2012 and Haochong 2021, after 8 weeks of SIT, players’ VO2max, VT-VO2 and VT/VO2max increased significantly, implying that the proportion of exercise intensity lower than the anaerobic threshold for the body was increased under the same testing protocol[18]

Phillips et Al., 2011 and Gist et. Al., 2014 studies demonstrated that the time players take to enter the anaerobic glycolytic process would be postponed, thus reducing the consumption of glycogen[19].

Connoly deduction could be used as a sum-up, resuming that Fartlek SIT adoption into athlete workouts inducted skeletal muscle metabolism, increased capillary proliferation, mitochondrial proliferation, enhancing activity and oxidation of glycolytic oxidase and improving peripheral vascular function and skeletal muscle peripheral adaptability, with a global improvement of efficience reflected into a general whole ability of subject-s body movements, and into the peculiar player dexterity of sport-specialized kind of movement[20].

From the athlete on-court performance improving point of view Meeusen and Welsh stated that

Fartlek SIT aerobic recovery ability improvement has a direct impact on players’ on-court performance, as high-intensity and high-load activity would produce physiological fatigue and large amount of lactate accumulation in the skeletal muscle, thus changes in the internal responses of the body may cause players’ physical dysfunction and decline in athletic performance[21]

Therefore, according to Robergs and colleagues Al., 2018, rapid recovery ability, from physiological and biochemical perspectives the changes in skeletal muscle’s oxygen recovery ability, is one of the key prerequisites for decent physical and technical performance[22]

As evinced by Menzies et Al., 2010 blood lactate is one of the most commonly used biochemical indicators to detect the body fatigue recovery status, and the accumulation of lactate may indirectly lead to reduced performance, because the conversion of lactic acid to lactate releases H+ that leads to a metabolic acidosis with subsequent inhibition of glycolytic rate-limiting enzymes, lipolysis and contractility of the skeletal muscles[23]

Wang and colleagues 2019 research evinced that SIT performed at a higher level of intensity could positively influence the clearance of lactate after exercise, increasing intra-cellular alkali reserve and slowing the pH reduction in muscles, and delaying the onset of fatigue[24]

Fukuoka studies found in Wang’s deduction that consequently athlete’ ability to recover from intermittent activities was enhanced and they would be better prepared for the next point[25],  according and developing what’s asserted by Anderson et Al. 2007, about possessing rapid aerobic recovery as a key factor determining elite player’s aerobic endurance and technical-tactical performance in the next point[26]

[1] Ivan C. et Al., 2018

[2] Lovesey, 1968; McArdle et Al., 2009

[3] Scaff, 2011

[4] Schatzle, 2022; Foreman, 2005

[5] Gaillard, 2016

[6] Newsholme, 1998

[7] Tifrea, 2022

[8] Dorval, 2016

[9] Ivan C., 2018

[10] Daniels, J. (2013). Daniels’ running formula. Human Kinetics.

[11] Yadav & Yadav, 2013; Ivan et.Al., 2018

[12] Dorval G., 2015

[13] Dudley et.Al., 1982

[14] Mc Ardle et.Al., 2009

[15] Gunnarson and Bangsbo, 2012

[16] Buchheit et.Al., 2012

[17] Koral et.Al., 2019

[18] Connoly 2012; Haochong 2021.

[19] Philips et.Al., 2011; Gist et.Al., 2014

[20] Connoly, 2012

[21] Meeusen et.Al, 2006; Welsh et.Al., 2002

[22] Roberg et.Al., 2018

[23] Menzies et.Al., 2010

[24] Wang et.Al., 2019

[25] Fukuoka et.Al., 2017

[26] Andersen et.Al., 2007

4 Fartlek SIT and sports

According to physiology of physical training literature Fartlek approach is appliable to

rowing [1], skiing [2], swimming [3], and cycling[4].

According to Haochong et Al., 2021 Fartlek 30-20-10 running interval training adopted as intervention on elite badminghton players as a training method, substantially improved maximum aerobic capacity and aerobic recovery ability by improving the oxygen uptake and delivery, thus enhancing their rapid repeated sprinting ability[5].

Another example of Fartlek SIT applied to non-running sport as flanking training tool is seen in Grossman competitive swimming studies with interesting features regarding respiration and apnea, as according to Grossman approach competitive swimming requires the performance of high-intensity work while performing regular periods of apnea. He presents as example the swimming “flip-turn” and push-off technique, facilitating a change in direction at the end of the pool, as a maneuver requiring high-power output (PO) of the lower extremities (kicking) combined with apnea extended for ∼5 s.[6].

[1]  Ní Chéilleachair et.Al., 2017

[2] Costill, 1991

[3] Grossman et.Al., 2021

[4] Burke – Pavalka, 2000.

[5] Haochong et.Al., 2021

[6] Grossman et.Al., 2021

5 Fartlek SIT and my Chenjiagou Wushu training

Omitting all technical specification about whatever Wushu method is practiced, if a gaze is given to Wushu drills workouts exercising, High Intensity Interval Training routines are omnipresent into any session of Wushu basics: for instance whatever Titui[1] training lines and/or Zuhe Dongzuo repetition played, at a certain intensity of activity – which is required – anything could be seen as peculiar form of High Intensity Interval Training with variable timing in seconds of High Power Output followed by more or less short and incomplete recovery slowdown phase. 

About Sprint Interval Training routines as mandatory part of Wushu training curriculum, according to Yang Hui BUPE teacher 2004 Florence Wushu Institute Wushu junior compete team training program[2], she prescribed once for week (the Friday, in a 5 days Wushu and segmented body specified strengthening focused training week + weekend duilian mild focused workouts) a session of 身体素质练习 shēntǐ sùzhì liànxí – exercises for general body that she distinguished into 长跑 chángpǎo – lit. long running, cross 5.000 m, 2.000 m., and 短跑 duǎnpǎo – lit. short running, specifying as forward pass cross running, burst and sprints in progression, fast running over short decrementing distances as 500 m., 400 m., 100 m., 50 m.

A more detailed general fitness program for Wushu athlete, with differentiated workouts according to age ranges, was then suggested[3].

As Haochong and colleagues identify in the Fartlek SIT training modality and cadence the closer workouts to maximum physiological load intensity and time structure best suited to pertinent sport player necessity, in this paper is suggested to look for a SIT formula that best suites to Chenjiagou boxing physiological intensity and timing[4].

Chenjiagou training workouts products are evident thanks to 2019 research and resumed upper: in general terms a barehand Taolu session Xinjia Yilu plus Xinjia Erlu execution lasts about 30 – 35 minutes, and is featured by constant slow and middle power effort clustered with very frequent burst outputs.

Thus, SIT to be adopted has to last 30 – 35 minutes with an intro-warm-up and a tail-cool-down more or less equivalent phase, and should be featured by:

very fast burst segments > Tmin

slow longer phases > Tmax

steady pace phases linking between faster and slower segments, with a durance shorter then slow and longer then fast parts > Tmiddle = Tmax – Tmin

This fundamental unit:

(Tmax slow) + (Tmiddle steady) + (Tmin fast) should be repeated over a productive temporal unit which grant aerobic and anaerobic solicitation; these repetitions would create a macro-unit, with a partial incomplete session focused about recovery, to be in turn repeated all necessary time to cover the Xinjia Yilu + Xinjia Erlu endurance required, about 30, 35 minutes.


Warm-up + X * (MACRO UNIT [Y* {MICROUNIT}] + incomplete recovery]) + Cool-down,

where {MICROUNIT == Tmin + Tmiddle + Tmax }

Among Fartlek SIT vast panorama available the Gunnarsson – Bangsbo, MacKenzie[5] Fartlek SIT methodology of 10-20-30 approach seems the most suited to Chenjiagou Wushu training, with a structured running session made of

5 minutes warming up running

4 x (5 x [30” slow, 20” steady, 10” fast/sprint], 120” slow recovery running)

5 minutes steady running

5 minutes to more free time cool down phase.

[1] 踢腿Titui – lit. rising legs, kicking practice exercises; 组合动作Zǔhé dòngzuò – lit. playing a combination of actions, in Wushu indicating a group of movements, often a segment of 2 or 3 movements taken from the whole Taolu, trained in repetition as a standalone for technical improvement and skill development. Cfr.: Duan and Zheng, 2007; Zamblera 2015.

[2] Cfr. Yang Hui, 2004: mansucript I.

[3] Cfr. Unknown, 2004 : manuscript II.

[4] Haochong et.Al., 2021

[5] Gunnarson and Bangsbo, 2012; MacKenzie, 2015.


I wish to thanks Dr. Niccolo Marturano for his help during 2019 researches and data interpretation, and Wushu Institute of Florence for years of training and available study material.


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