Strength Training for Dogs: Sit Progression for Hind Legs

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For many dogs, the hind legs can become a problem area, especially as the dogs get older and move into their senior years. The primary reason for this is because many dogs will tend to load their body weight more onto their front limbs than their back limbs. Over time, this can lead to a strength discrepancy between the front and the rear legs, which in turn, can lead to injuries and mobility issues.


There are many exercises that can target the hind legs and that will help to keep a dog’s hind legs strong. One of the simplest progressions is the sit progression. The sit progression uses the basic commands sit and stand (or up) to move the dog through a series of hind leg focused squatting movements. These moves will primarily work the rear legs of the dog as well as their core.


Level 1 – Sit to Stand. This is probably the most basic, yet effective canine exercise out there for working the hind legs. Have the dog sit on command and then after a 1-2 second pause, ask the dog to ‘stand’. Have the dog hold the stand for 2 seconds, and then repeat 8-10 times.

jack burpees

Level 2 – Down to Stand. This is similar to Sit to Stand but it involves more muscle recruitment. Have the dog lie down on command (e.g. ‘down’) and then, after a 1-2 second pause, ask the dog to stand. Repeat 8-10 times. I like to think of this exercise as the canine equivalent of a burpee. (For those of you who know what a burpee is and who have tried a burpee, you should be able to understand why a down to stand can be a great exercise for a dog!)


Level 3 – Sit to Box. This is the most complex of the progression and it requires a box, an ottoman, or any kind of elevated surface. Using a box as an example, have the dog sit on command, and then after a 1-2 second pause, stand, and then raise their front legs up and stand on a box (front legs on the box, rear legs on the ground). After a 2 second pause, have the dog move off the box and back into a sit position. Repeat up to 10 times. You can use a rock too like we did on our Big Bear trip this year.
stand to chair

The sit progression is a simple, yet effective exercise sequence for building up a dog’s hind leg strength. Next week, I will share some more exercise movements that will target a dog’s hind legs.


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  1. What a great series of exercises. Those would really help out in a dog recovering from ACL surgery. I did stuff like this after Norman’s surgery.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Hunting Season Has StartedMy Profile

  2. We had Katie working on this for quite a while, but she can no longer do that. Rear strength is so important! We need to make sure and work on it before it becomes a problem.
    Emma recently posted…Distractions And Distractors in Nose WorkMy Profile

  3. Yes , yes and yes! Rear length strength is so important! We do the sit to stand with Sherman several times a week. Tried the sit to box a few times but his lack of coordination made that hard for him. Lol!
    Jen recently posted…How To Remove Pet Hair From Every Surface.My Profile

  4. What a great and EASY to do series of exercises. Besides strengthening the hind legs it’s also a wonderful way of working on some basic obedience!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…When NOT to exercise your K9: Avoiding BloatMy Profile

  5. We do the first two to practice commands before mealtime, but I never thought about their physical benefits. Will definitely keep that in mind, thanks.

  6. Burpees are my much hated exercise, but they are effective. I’m going to give these exercises a try with both Sydney (for fitness) and Zoey (for our one on one time). Thank you.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Road to Good Intensions Leads to Extreme Dog WalkingMy Profile

  7. Those sound like fantastic exercises to strengthen the rear end.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Is It Time Yet?My Profile

  8. OK, I love your blogs and what they have to offer, they are similar to mine…….kinda…..we should work together and do some joint blogs one time….Just a thought! If your ever in NY let me know and we’ll do a vlog with our BFF’s (our dogs) and see if we can help those dogs as well as their people to live the happiest and healthiest life ever!

  9. I just tried some of these and my dogs love them…or the attention maybe.
    jan recently posted…Lost dog stays with her trapped dog buddyMy Profile

  10. We’ve been doing some of these because I’d like to build Nala’s rear end and core strength! So glad to see we’re on the right track. 😀

    What’s been interesting is that despite only doing a few reps of these exercises a few days a week (and different ones on different days), I can already see a difference in how Nala moves–she’s doing more “kickback” stands on her own since we started working on them, and more “tuck sits,” too. And she just seems more agile in general.

  11. Burpees for dogs! BOL! Brilliant! Wonderful post.
    Earl Lover recently posted…Have Fun Keep Fit Series #2My Profile

  12. Hmm, maybe this is why Rocco can jump so high from his hind legs. We do lots of these exercises and also do a “sit pretty” to a hind leg stand. Good for core and rear end strength. In agility, good jumping form will come from pushing off with the hind legs, too…not something that all dogs do naturally.
    Diane recently posted…Happy 3rd Birthday Rocco!My Profile

  13. Hi Y’all!

    That’s an exercise we all need…and I mean the Humans too! Rear ends need to stay especially strong as we age!

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
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  14. This is interesting to me. I run daily with Cocoa and yet didn’t consider the other “training”. Like us needing to do strength training along with cardio 🙂
    Julie recently posted…8 things my dog taught meMy Profile

  15. I have seen the hind end weakness, in our beagle Kobi. I wish I had known before so I could have worked with him on it to make his later years easier.
    I have done Level 1 with Sheba, but it got lost in the shuffle doing other things, but I’ve started it up with her again, and need to get going with Luke too. Cricket has arthritis in her back knees now, so I’m not sure if this would be good or not?
    Jan K recently posted…Black & White Sunday – Beagle SurroundedMy Profile

  16. Amazing info, Im trying this routine today.

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