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The Pete Plan blog

  • June 2023
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The Pete Plan




There are effectively two types of indoor rowing training plan, either periodic or continuous. A periodic training plan will take you through different phases of training to build up to a specific point in time where you will reach your peak ready to race. A continuous training plan will help you see improvement day after day, in such a way that you should always be faster during a race tomorrow than you are today. The correct type of training plan for you depends on your goals and motivations. If you enjoy taking part in challenges, setting new personal best times, or competing regularly, a continuous training plan will suit you better. If your focus is on one or two races each season, and the rest of the time is a training build up to those races, then a periodic training plan may be your best bet. Whichever method you choice, following a structured training plan will always be better than not doing.

The Pete Plan is a continuous training plan. It follows a three week cycle, with sessions being repeated every three week period. If you like to see the progress you are making, you will enjoy this plan.

The Pete Plan originated in 2002. I was racing regularly throughout the season, and wanted a training plan with a good mixture of sessions, both to work on all the areas needed to race a fast 2k, and to maintain my interest. I tried many of the other training plans available, but none fitted all of my constraints and motivations exactly. Most of the other training plans consisted of three main elements – distance work to build basic endurance, middle distance intervals to work on the anaerobic threshold and mental strength, and speed intervals to fine tune the racing speed. The Pete Plan was devised after following the Wolverine Plan for a short time. The full Wolverine Plan contained too many sessions per week to fit in with my other commitments, and I didn’t enjoy the very low rate sessions. So I adapted it to fit in with what I wanted to do, by doing one speed intervals session, one longer distance interval session, and as much other endurance work as possible each week.

Although the Pete Plan is a continuous plan, in the way that the sessions repeat on a three weekly cycle, and because while following it you will always be faster tomorrow than you are today, that doesn’t mean it is a plan to follow 52 weeks of the year. No one races week in week out for the entire year, so you don’t need to be race ready all that time. I’ll talk more on adaptations to the plan later though.

The Pete Plan was never devised as a training plan for anyone else to follow, it was simply a training plan I put together for myself. Its simplicity, constant feedback, and loyal following have made it popular though, and as such I believe it needs an official document to detail the plan.

Mike Caviston’s Wolverine Plan was obviously the biggest influence on the Pete Plan, and although it began without one of the major philosophies (the low rate endurance “backbone”) of the WP, I would like to thank Mike for the large influence he has had on my training.

The Sessions:

As discussed previously, there are three types of sessions that make up the Pete Plan – speed intervals, “anaerobic threshold” intervals, and distance or endurance training.

Speed intervals:

There are three intervals sessions that make up the speed intervals group, performed once a week in the three weekly rotation.

8 x 500m / 3min30 rest

250m, 500m, 750m, 1000m, 750m, 500m, 250m / 1min30 rest per preceding 250m

4 x 1000m / 5min rest

The rest times are taken between each repetition, and allow for a greater pace to be held than for the total distance as a single piece. Notice that all of the speed interval sessions are 4000m in total distance, and that the rest period between repetitions is around twice the length of the work.

The only session that requires some explanation is the pyramid session, in terms of the rest times. By 1min30 per preceding 250m, it means you take 1min30 rest after the 250m rep, 3mins after the 500m rep, and so on up to 6mins after the 1k rep. It sounds like a lot, but once you’re doing the session fast enough, you will need it!

Endurance intervals:

Again there are three interval sessions that make up the endurance intervals group, performed once a week in the three weekly cycle.

5 x 1500m / 5min rest

4 x 2000m / 5min rest

3k, 2.5k, 2k / 5min rest

This time the total session distances are between 7.5k and 8k, and each session has 5mins rest between the reps, slightly less than the work time for most people.

Distance / endurance work:

The final group of sessions is the distance, or endurance work. The main concept behind the Pete Plan is that you do one speed interval session, and one endurance interval session per week, and then as much distance work as you have time for. Where this plan diverges from many of the other plans out there is with the stroke rate I advise to do this distance work at. I recommend a minimum of 22spm, and for general “steady” distance work a maximum of 25spm. On this document I have simply put the “steady distance” sessions as approximately 8 to 15k in distance. That is just a recommendation of a good distance to go for, but if you’re new to indoor rowing you might like to start out much shorter, or if you have the time and inclination you might like to go longer. Resist the temptation to row these too hard though, save that for the other three days. One day each week is devoted to a hard distance piece. You might like to rotate this through the ranking distances, or do the same distance for a few weeks at a time. Hard distance doesn’t have to mean flat out every week, just that you can go faster than the steady distance days, and over the 25spm limit.

Interval rest:

What to do during the rest period between reps on an interval session is down to personal preference, but I advise doing at least some gentle rowing during the rest period to keep the muscles moving, and the blood flowing. Make it very gentle though, and take the opportunity to keep drinking water.



The Pete Plan:

Week 1:

8 x 500m / 3min30 rest

Steady distance (~8 to 15k)

5 x 1500m / 5min rest

Steady distance (~8 to 15k)

Hard distance (~5k+)

Steady distance (~8 to 15k)


Week 2:

250m, 500m, 750m, 1k, 750m, 500m, 250m / 1min30 rest per 250m work

Steady distance (~8 to 15k)

4 x 2000m / 5min rest

Steady distance (~8 to 15k)

Hard distance (~5k+)

Steady distance (~8 to 15k)


Week 3:

4 x 1000m / 5min rest

Steady distance (~8 to 15k)

3k, 2.5k, 2k / 5min rest

Steady distance (~8 to 15k)

Hard distance (~5k+)

Steady distance (~8 to 15k)




Pacing the sessions:

If you read other sources of information about the Pete Plan, ignore any reference to how to pace the sessions. It is possible to give a rough guide of how the pace of a session might fit in compared to your best 2k or 5k pace, but everyone is different, everyone has different strengths, and not one number for this will fit everyone. So simply follow the pacing guidance I’ll give you here, and you should never fail to finish a session while following the Pete Plan.

For all the interval sessions, both speed intervals and endurance intervals, the key thing is doing your first attempt at a new session at a pace you know you can achieve. It doesn’t matter if that makes the first cycle of the plan very easy; it is for the best in the long run. For a first attempt at each session simply look at a total distance of the session as a whole, and estimate how fast you could row that as a single piece, from the nearest distance you have done. For example, for the speed interval sessions where the total distance is 4k, look at the pace of your best recent 5k perhaps. Then for your first attempt at any of those sessions, simply do all but the last rep of the session at that pace. When it comes to the final rep, go as fast as you can. Then at the end of the session look at the average pace on the monitor from the session, and write it down – this will be your target the next time you attempt that session. On your next attempt you will do all but the last rep at that average pace, and again go as fast as you can on the final rep. This is how you will continue on all the time you follow the plan.

The only guideline for pacing the steady distance sessions is that they should be within the bounds of 22 to 25spm, and at such a pace as you recover sufficiently for the hard session the following day. If in doubt, go slower! These sessions should be at least 10seconds slower pace than your endurance interval sessions.

Always take a complete rest day every week – it is as important as any of the sessions you do!



If you have found this document useful please feel free to make a small donation to aid the development of further training information for, thanks!

Frequently asked questions:

I have been forced to take time off training, how do I know how to pace the sessions now?

It’s best not to take extended periods off training if you can help it, but life has to get in the way sometimes. A good method to get back into the plan after time off, for whatever reason, is to back off your targets by 1second in pace for each week you have had off. So if you have been away on holiday for two weeks, take 2seconds off your pacing targets for this cycle, and build back from there.

I am finding the plan too intense, is there any way to ease off the intensity a bit?

Once you’ll been following the plan for a while, and are only improving by a few tenths each time you do a session, it can start to become mentally difficult to keep pushing yourself that hard. One good method to ease off the intensity a little is to phase each cycle with an easy, medium, and hard week. On the easy week do each session 2seconds slower in pace than the previous hard week, then 1second slower in the medium week, and back to the normal target for the hard week.

How much should I warm up for each session?

Again, warm ups are largely down to personal preference. The harder the session, the more you should warm up, though. For the steady distance sessions there is no real need to do any warm up. For the endurance intervals you might like to do somewhere between 1 and 2k at a steady pace, with breaks to drink water. For the speed intervals you might like to do between 2 and 3k, with short bursts at faster pace, again with breaks to drink water. Warm up adequately, but don’t row to exhaustion during the warm up!

I know everyone is different, but I still want to know what are good times for each of the interval sessions!

Ok, but these are neither targets for the first time you try a session, or even for the longer term.

8 x 500m = 3seconds faster than 2k pb pace (2k – 3)

Speed pyramid = 2k pb pace (2k)

4 x 1000m = 1second slower than 2k pb pace (2k + 1)

5 x 1500m = 5k pb pace (5k)

4 x 2000m = Half a second slower than 5k pb pace (5k + 0.5)

3k, 2.5k, 2k = 1second slower than 5k pb pace (5k + 1)

That speed pyramid session is a strange one, how should I pace that?

Go at a constant pace for the 250m up to the 1k, and then speed up from there if you can. Resist the temptation to sprint the first 250m.



2 Responses to “The Pete Plan”

  1. […] As I’ve mentioned before, one of the resources I’ve been using in moving forward with my rowing workouts is the online forums provided by Concept 2. One that I’ve been spending some time in lately has been the Training forum. There, I found a topic entitled “your favorite rowing workout,” which led me to the Beginner Training version of The Pete Plan. […]

  2. […] enough erg – session nicked from the “Pete Plan” – each rep. started out fast and settled to 1:52 pace. I only pushed it on a bit in […]

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