Slimdoggy Fitness Tip: Negative Splits – Turning a Negative into a Positive

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canine core exercises

Canine core work

We often hear of the expression, “two negatives don’t make a positive” or its cousin, “two wrongs don’t make a right”.  In fitness, I am happy to say, there is a way to make a negative into a positive.  The technique, called “negative split’, is often used by runners but the concept applies to all types of fitness including canine fitness.

 Negative Split Defined

In running parlance, a negative split is when you run faster during the second part of a race then you did the first part.  It means that you finished strong and gave a full effort.  In other sports, phrases with similar meanings include “last one, best one”, “championship rounds”, and “we own the fourth quarter”. Every one of these sayings is meant to provide the athlete inspiration to finish strong and give their 100% effort.


Benefits of Negative Splits

No matter what your sport or fitness activity, training with a negative split mentality is a great way to workout and offers many benefits:

  • Maximum results in minimal time.  The added intensity at the end of the exercise session makes the workout more effective and eliminates the need for long, slow workouts.
  • If you are a walker, runner, or swimmer, using negative splits will make you faster and will burn more calories.
  • If you like to strength train, going all out through the end of your workout will enhance strength and muscle gains and increase calorie burn.


When it comes to your dog, these same benefits apply.  Your dog will get fitter, stronger, and burn more calories when you train them to finish strong.  Of course, most dogs will expect that you lead by example, so if you want to start using negative splits with your dog, be prepared to do so yourself.


Examples of Negative Splits

There are many ways to implement negative splits into your training, no matter what type of exercise you do.  Here are three practical examples:

dog running

Jack on the run

Walking/Running/Swimming: as mentioned, running negative splits is a common technique to build speed and endurance and it can apply to walking and swimming as well. Try mapping an out and back route for you and your dog and time your segments.  Keep an eye on the watch as you get close to the end so you can pick up the pace if necessary.  Start with modest goals; even shaving a second or two off your time is progress. Your dog might even start to ‘learn’ this behavior and start to speed up towards the end of the workout.  Both Slimdoggy Jack and Maggie are now conditioned to speed up at the turnaround point.  It is really awesome and we all get a better workout because of it!


Strength Training: when lifting weights or performing any kind of strength training (e.g. body weight training, Pilates, core work with your dog), try to make your last set of each exercise your best set.  This means going to failure or near failure when possible.  In Pilates, our last exercise in a complex is often done to failure and our body is trembling as we attempt to hold form. It is hard, but it is effective.

Make it so for your dog as well.  Get a K9FitVest and do some hill work or core work with your pet.  Make the last set the hardest by going faster up the hill or holding the core contraction the longest at the end.


Yoga: try and hold your postures for the full amount of time if not longer. Practice being the last one out of a posture and keeping the proper form throughout each pose.  Same for ‘doga’ or any type of stretching or mobility work you do with your dog.  Hold the postures and make the last set the best set for maximum benefit.


As always, both you and your dog should get checked out by your doctor/vet to make sure there is no medical reason that would preclude you from vigorous exercise.  Once you are cleared, try to incorporate negative splits into you and your dog’s exercise routines and watch as you become faster, stronger, and more fit.

Don’t forget K9Kamp – have you been working on your hide & seek challenge? How’s it going?

FitDog Friday

Please enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts Peggy’s Pet Place and To Dog With Love. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below – lots of fun fitness tips and advice!


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  1. Cool insights here as always. We’ve been finishing our cycle-runs with a steep hill climb. Now I know to put %200 effort into it. Cheers & Happy FitDogging
    Paws and Pedals (Kate & Scooter) recently posted…Pet Cam – Let your Dog take the Picture!My Profile

  2. Hi Y’all!

    When my Human and I jog she always makes us take a walk around and get water before going inside or getting in the car. If we’re hiking, we almost always walk the first part out and the last part back to cool down. Is this wrong?

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Follow Up on Fitness!!!My Profile

  3. Whenever we run with Mom we always increase speed the end of the run. Us dogs love it and are conditioned to do it. It also really has helped Mom when she has run races because it becomes second nature to her too, no matter how tired she is. That and racing up hills are her favorite parts of running with dogs.
    emma recently posted…Train Your Dog Month Challenge | GBGVMy Profile

  4. Like this idea…shall try this with Maddie and in my own workout….tnx

  5. I have tried that technique myself. Can’t say we have done it with the dogs, except that we usually end training with them running a simple mark and in that way they can run (or swim) full out.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Goodbye January And Not A Moment Too SoonMy Profile

  6. Excellent tips, can you now send us some warm weather so we can stay out longer. I am really failing with having cold excuses and not staying out long or doing more stuff this winter. Have a great weekend.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…FitDog FridayMy Profile

  7. Such great tips! I had never heard of that before!
    I will start doing negative splits while im out walking/jogging with the dogs! Thank you!
    I didnt know that would make such a difference in exercise just by speeding up the process toward sthe end.
    ((husky hugz frum da pack))
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Friday Woofs and Growls !My Profile

  8. Great Tip! Its hard to always give it your all, and the thought of pushing that extra bit seems impossible at the end of a workout but thats where the real “workout” begins!
    Need to give Doga a try!

  9. Awesome advice! 🙂 Niles and I have been trying to do this when we go on our walks. With your app it’s much easier to know if we beat our time or not! 🙂
    Nailah Bone recently posted…FitDog Friday – The Dangers of Being an Overweight DogMy Profile

  10. Mr. N is getting a FitVest when they come out with their small dog sizes. So excited!

  11. I have never heard of this, but it makes perfect sense. We will definitely use it when we get back to running (or even back to our longer walks when the weather gets better). Since we have a steep hill right by our house it should work out great. Thanks for the great tips as always!
    Jan K recently posted…Puppy Pros & ConsMy Profile

  12. Hmmm I’m not sure Alfie would even notice if I increased my speed towards the end of a walk, he is so much faster than me! But we do like to finish a walk with a nice game of fetch 🙂
    Linda – Alfie’s Blog recently posted…What We Learned From ‘Train Your Dog Month’My Profile

  13. Great tips! I find it’s motivating to finish strong… since it helps you realize just how much you “have left” in yourself… that you might not have realized you had. Hope that makes sense!
    Diane recently posted…Keep Your Dog Busy With “Find It” GamesMy Profile

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