Question of the Day

On a lot of rowing blogs I hear people mention “negative splits”, especially when discussing 2k’s. What exactly are they and can it be beneficial to know how to properly use them?

Negative splitting when you row the second half of a race faster than the first. Each progressive 500m should be rowed at a lower split than the previous one – for example, if you start out rowing a 2:02 split, your second 500m would speed up to 2:01, 3rd 500 to a 2:00, and the final 500 to a 1:59. It’s “marketed”, for lack of a better term, as the opposite of flying and dying.

The theory is if you’re going to fade at the end of a piece, why not just start off slower and build into the end? Meaning that instead of fading on strokes 8, 9, and 10, you go “easier” on strokes 1, 2, 3 so you can go harder on 8, 9, and 10. If you pulled the splits I listed a few sentences ago, you would pull an 8:00 2k, which is the same as pulling a 2:00/500m. Trying to pull a consistent 2:00 split gets more difficult as your body becomes more fatigued and you typically end up seeing your splits go up as you get near the end of the piece, whereas with negative splitting the splits start out high (2:02) and finish low (1:59).

There’s also a mental aspect to negative splitting too – if you see yourself going faster and the splits coming down, you can avoid the mental block you experience when you’re trying to hold one split and instead see the numbers go up.

I do think that it would be beneficial to know how to use them although from what I’ve read, their effectiveness varies amongst everyone. Some people just find it easier to stick with one target split throughout the piece whereas other people perform better when they focus on the negative splits. I would recommend trying it and comparing your time to your average 2k time to see what the difference was and how well it worked for you. Negative splitting doesn’t just apply to 2ks either. You can use it for any distance, 2ks are just where they are most commonly used.