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What Is A Negative Split In Rowing And How To Get the Most Out of It

woman working out on a rowing machine

Hi everyone! It’s your favorite rowing partner Petra.

Today, I want to focus on something not often discussed in rowing, and that is the negative split.

I think the word negative gives a lot of people the wrong idea about what this term really means!

As a passionate rower, I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of negative splitting. It’s not just a technical term; it’s a game-changer in the world of rowing.

In this article, we’ll dive into the strategy and training required to make the most of this technique, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting your rowing journey.

Are you ready? Let’s unlock your full potential on the water as we delve into the art of negative splitting!

What Is a Negative Split in Rowing?

A negative split means that you are rowing faster during the second half of your rowing session than you did during the first half.

This technique is all about pacing and controlling your effort, and it’s widely recognized as an effective way to achieve peak performance in rowing.

So don’t let this term fool you! A negative split is not a bad thing!

The concept of a negative split is rooted in the idea that by starting at a slightly more conservative pace, you can conserve energy and build momentum for the crucial final stretch.

woman working out on a rowing machine with LCD showing split time

This approach allows you to push harder and faster when it matters most, resulting in better overall times and improved performance.

I’ve found that mastering the negative split technique is both a mental and physical challenge. It requires discipline, a deep understanding of your own capabilities, and the ability to push through discomfort when it counts the most.

Negative splits require a delicate balance of conserving enough energy to finish strong while still maintaining a competitive pace from the start.

In my experience, to successfully pull off negative splitting in rowing, you need proper pacing, consistent training, and mental fortitude. It’s a valuable tool in a rower’s arsenal, and when executed correctly, it can lead to significant improvements in both training and racing outcomes.

What Does Split Mean in Rowing?

LCD screen showing sample split time and the meaning of split time in rowing

Just a recap from previous articles, a split refers to the time it takes you to row 500 meters, and it is one way to measure the power of your stroke. The shorter your split, the better you are performing.

Rowing split is the same idea used in running, often called running splits or mile splits.

To fully understand and compare the concept of negative split with rowing split and split time, you can read my article on How to Improve Rowing Split Time.

How Do You Do a Negative Split?

Everyone has a different idea about how a perfect negative split should be done, and I always like to remember that everyone is different. So what works for one person may not work so well for someone else.

lady rowing on an erg machine working out her negative split times

Essentially, negative splitting means that you row the latter portion of your rowing session at a higher speed than the initial part. This technique is all about pacing and controlling your effort, and it’s widely recognized as an effective way to achieve peak performance in rowing.

The concept of a negative split is rooted in the idea that by starting at a slightly more conservative pace, you can conserve energy and build momentum for the crucial final stretch. This approach allows you to push harder and faster when it matters most, resulting in better overall times and improved performance.

Some people do a bit of a combination. For example, they might start by doing a hard 10 or 15 strokes to get ahead of the competition or the erg. They then settle into a steady stroke rate, give it another hard 10 strokes when they hit the halfway mark, slow down again, then give it their all for the last 150 meters.

This will also depend on how far you are racing or working out. Most people plan their workout to match a regatta, which is typically 2000 meters, divide the distance into several sections, and have a target pace for each section.

Watch the full video on Rowing Times by renowned Rowing Coach & YouTube Influencer Max Secunda:

 

Others simply increase their stroke rate every 100 or 200 meters so they are gradually going faster as the race continues.

Many rowers think that it’s always about squeezing in more strokes per minute. Yes, that’s the general rule, but you can also improve your split by applying more power on the drive phase of your strokes without significantly increasing your stroke rate.

You’ll need to try several strategies to see which negative split method works best for you.

My Simple and Easy Negative Split Rowing Workout

Tips and Technique for Mastering Negative Splits

I’ve developed this workout over years of rowing experience, and it has consistently delivered excellent results.

It doesn’t matter if you are in a boat or on the erg, you can always find a technique that works best for you.

The key to a successful negative split workout is to break it down into manageable segments of the same distance.

I usually start with a warm-up, which includes light rowing to prepare my muscles and get into the rhythm.

Then I set my sights on the main part of the workout, focusing on maintaining a steady and controlled pace for the first quarter then slightly faster on the second quarter.

As I aim to row the second half of the session at a faster pace and increase my power output, this is where the “negative split” strategy comes into play.

It’s essential to monitor your split times, compare them with your target split, and adjust your effort accordingly.

The workout concludes with a cool-down to recover and stretch, ensuring that my body remains injury-free.

A Quick Negative Split Workout

Sample Negative Split Workout

A good starter program for a 2,000-meter row would be:

  • Warm up for 2 minutes.
  • Break the workout into 500-meter segments.
  • The first 500 meters, row at about 25 strokes per minute.
  • The second 500 meters, row at 30 strokes per minute.
  • The third 500 meters, row at 33 strokes per minute.
  • For the last 500 meters, row at 33 strokes until you reach the last 150 meters, then go all out and try to do 35 or 36 strokes per minute, if you can.

This looks so easy on paper, but once you’re looking at that last 500 meters, it suddenly seems so hard!

Practice makes perfect, friends, so keep at it!

If you’re looking for an inexpensive indoor rowing machine to get started, check this out!

One Last Thing

Remember that every workout should begin with a thorough warm-up, then concentrate on maintaining a controlled pace for the first half of the workout.

As you progress, strive to row the second half at a faster pace while closely monitoring your split times.

This effective routine empowers rowers to consistently improve their performance and reach their goals, fostering confidence and growth on the water.

Stay healthy and happy rowing!

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