Learn more about The PEATS Program

You can see yourself on the podium at Surf Nationals in 2013, having won the Open Ski Race. BUT do you have a training program with the ‘legs’ to carry you there?

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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,

paddle sports

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

Preparing for a training session

kayak session

Technical Training

k1 training








While not considered one of the high profile sports on its program, Sprint Canoeing has been included in Olympic Competition since 1936 (men’s events) and 1948 (women). The sport is administered by the International Canoe Federation, the body responsible for conducting World Championship events each year. The sport is very popular in European countries, and collectively, they have accounted for the majority of Olympic and World Championship medals since these events have been held.

sprint K1sprint C1There are two separate events for Canoe Sprint: kayak (K) and canoe (C). Craft competing are singles (C1, K1), doubles (C2, K2), and fours (C4, K4). Events are run over several different distances which vary for men and women and at different international regattas, and include 200m , 500m and 1000m with different combinations for men and women. Traditionally, Canoe events have been for men only, but this is slowly changing, and more women are entering the sport. However, there are currently no events for women in the major international regattas. The international Canoe Federation has more information on these two sports which can be read here.

While this page has Sprint Canoeing as its focus, the principles of The PEATS Program discussed here can also be applied to other canoeing disciplines including marathon canoe, slalom, surf ski, outrigger and dragon boats.

Sprint Canoeing in the History of The PEATS Program
A large proportion of the history of The PEATS Program has been with Sprint Canoeing, almost exclusively with kayak. Slalom, surf ski, outrigger and dragon boats have also been included, but to a lesser extent. However, the work done with these other sports provides the confidence in the applicability of The PEATS Program to them, and in the ability of the Program to produce significant improvements in performance capacity.

With the exception of slalom canoeing, each of the disciplines can be part of a program utilizing Critical Power or Critical Speed (Velocity). The difference between these two concepts is discussed in The PEATS Program eBook, but suffice it to say that the principal difference is in the testing mode that a coach wishes to use. If he has access to an ergometer capable of measuring work (usually in watts) and there are a number of these on the market now, then he/she can apply Critical Power. If he wishes to test on-water, then he can apply Critical Speed. In the first several years of my work with elite paddlers in Australia, all of the work centred on Critical Power as testing was performed on an ergometer, the K1 Ergo. Paddler requests to perform testing on-water provided us an opportunity to evaluate the two concepts during an in-house project where we ran the full testing procedure on the ergometer, followed by a full testing procedure on-water. This consisted of Criterion Time Trials and The Critical Power/Speed Test. At that time, athletes were using heart rate ranges to determine Training Intensity Levels, and we found very little difference in heart rate using the two methods. Also, lactate values were similar across the board with both male and female paddlers. As a consequence, on-water testing was performed for the remainder of the time that I worked with this group.

It has been almost 20 years since we performed this evaluation, and during the intervening time, we have conducted countless testing sessions for paddlers of all disciplines and at all experience levels from Olympic medalists to juniors just starting out in the sport. This wealth of experience provides a confidence in the testing procedures and application of results to training program design to produce its intended outcome. You can read more about this here.

As with the large body of work performed with swimming, we have found a wide range of values at MLSS (as defined by The PEATS Program) from about 2 mmol.L to 11 mmol.L, again suggesting fibre-type dominance in athletes. We have used this information to develop individualized training programs and to focus event specialization.

With an event duration of under 4 minutes for men and under 5 minutes for women, 1000m is the longest event on the international Sprint Canoeing regatta program. This corresponds roughly with the 400m swim or the 1500m in track athletics, and shorter than the 2000m rowing events. This time frame puts the event into a ‘speed endurance’ frame, where athletes require a combination of these two attributes: speed and endurance. We believe that of these two factors, endurance is the key modality and that training programs should reflect this emphasis. This does not mean though, that speed should be neglected. In a race situation, the impact of speed is of most importance at the end of the race when paddlers are striving to reach the finish line first. However, the speed that they can generate will be determined by a number of factors – pure speed, strength, endurance, accumulation of lactate during the race, and technical excellence, to name a few. Speed capability will be influenced by fibre type, as will lactate accumulation, but the ability to clear the lactate during the race and at its conclusion will be something that has been optimized during training. This facility is best developed with endurance training programmed in concert with speed training, rather than training the two aspects separately. This combination is the essence of The PEATS Program and is the principal variable which is based on individual physiology.

You can read about the components of The PEATS Program, how they function together in a complete training system in our core PEATS Program eBook, Critical Speed and the Physiology of Training. The eBook is suitable for either focus: Critical Power or Critical Speed, and each one is addressed providing a comprehensive guide to their application in designing a training program.

Paddle Sports: The PEATS Program follows up on the core information with specific suggestions to apply The PEATS Program to the different disciplines of canoeing: sprint, marathon, slalom, surf ski, outrigger and dragon boat.