Learn more about The PEATS Program

Paddle Sports eBook

Take your paddling performance to new heights by incorporating Critical Power or Critical Speed into your training program. TPE Sports Coaching has two great eBooks to help you design a winning training program. Our core book, Critical Speed and the Physiology of Training will give you the tools.

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Our new eBook, Paddle Sports: The PEATS Program will give you the specifics to make your canoeing training program work.


Read our article on the application of Critical Speed to swim training prescription





Critical Speed: overview

swim performanceCritical Speed is a very useful tool which can be employed in training prescription for any sport which is characterized by a continuous activity in either competition or training. For example, a swimmer trains one or more stroke patterns in a continuous activity (called ‘cyclic’) both in competition or training. A football player engages in intermittent and varied activity (called ‘acyclic’) during competition, but usually engages in cyclic activity (running) during a training week, particularly to develop endurance. Even a platform diver may engage in running as part of overall development for competitive performance. Any sport which includes such cyclic activity can employ the strategies comprising The PEATS Program, and as such, will employ Critical Speed as part of those strategies. TPE Sports Coaching has been employing Critical Speed as a training tool since 1988. Read more about our history.

History of CS and TPE Sports Coaching
TPE Sports Coaching has been employing the Critical Speed concept since the late 80s when we began with a group of elite swimmers preparing for an international meet.

The application to swimming grew out of a successful period of working with elite kayak paddlers, where they were tested for Critical Power (on a kayak ergometer, and prescribed three weekly training sessions at Critical Power (based on heart rate) in their preparation for Olympic competition. Their success indicated that a similar application to swimmers may be successful, and a testing procedure to determine Critical Speed was developed. When these swimmers were also successful internationally, a testing procedure to determine Critical Speed in kayakers followed, as these athletes preferred being tested on-water rather than on an ergometer.

The application of Critical Speed had a much broader reach than that of Critical Power as it did not require a means for measurement of work, and could be determined with an accurately-measured course plus a stop watch. Measurement of work demands relatively sophisticated equipment such as an ergometer, or in recent times for cyclists, the use of a power crank.
After the successful applications of both Critical Power and Critical Speed, we applied the Critical Speed concept to many different sports: track athletics, including wheelchair; rowing; skating; field hockey; squash; football; outrigger canoe; slalom canoe and kayak; surf ski; triathlon; surf boat.

track world recordsAs is for Critical Power, Critical Speed is determined from time trials, called in our training system, Criterion Time Trials, or CTT. Also, we apply the linear model to this calculation, so the end-result will be a straight line, the slope of which is Critical Speed. We employ two time trials for the CTT.

It is also interesting to plot world records for a cyclic sport to see the distance and time relationship so formed. Here we present the world records for track athletics, along with the 'Critical Speed' value calculated. The slope of the line, i.e. 'Critical Speed', is here 6.49 m.sec. Please note that this is not a true value for Critical Speed, but suitably demonstrates the methodology for its calculation.


NEXT: Critical Speed and Physiology