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Workout Wednesdays - The Sit to Stand

Dr. Eide's next installment in our Workout Wednesday series discussed the Sit to Stand exercise.


The Sit to Stand is one of the most basic exercises in conditioning, and also one of my favorites. Slight modifications can change the primary muscle group you are focusing on and the level of difficulty. The Sit to Stand exercise is best correlated to the squat in human exercise terms. This movement will strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles. These muscles will experience both concentric and eccentric contractions when going through the entire movement. Depending on what equipment is used and the speed in which you do the exercise, you can also incorporate core strengthening and a cardio workout. The Sit to Stand should be incorporated in to every dog's conditioning plan that does some form of jumping; agility, Flyball, Frisbee, dock dogs, and ring sports can all benefit from strengthening these muscles. I base my conditioning program on the SAID Principle; Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. Follow these steps to utilize the SAID principle accurately:

1) Start basic/simple then move to advanced/complex

2) Slow to Fast

3) Low force to high force

4) Short distance to long distance

5) Bilaterally to unilaterally

The Sit to Stand done on the ground is a combination of two foundation behaviors: the square sit and the kickback stand. When equipment is added, two more foundation behaviors become important: front paw targeting and rear paw targeting. Even if you think your dog knows how to sit and then stand back up; jumping dogs need a more advanced iteration of these behaviors. Start this exercise on the ground; you will be surprised how much the dog moves their front limbs to get into these positions. To do this exercise properly only the back half of the dog should move.

Once your dog has proper form, you can start making modifications. Any time you raise the front end, you are causing a weight shift to the back end. This is like a person adding weight to their squat; either by adding a held weight to the move or by increasing the current weight. Add an unstable piece of equipment like FitPAWS® K9 FITBone and the core will also be engaged. Raising the hind end takes away some of the strengthening aspect to the hind limb musculature, but adds some forelimb strengthening, which is especially great for the shoulders.

 

A typical progression in my canine conditioning plan might look something like this:

Two weeks of Sit to Stands on the ground. Assess proper form during this time, and make sure the dog can do multiple repetitions maintaining good form. By the end of two weeks, if the dog can do three sets of 10 repetitions in good form progress to the next level by elevating the front limbs. I would spend at least four weeks on this level before progressing again. Continue to progress by adding height and instability. Mix things up by putting the hind limbs on something unstable. Ask the dogs to push against the equipment with their hind limbs.

When your dog is ready, you can advance your dog to two of my favorite modifications: the Power Up and the Bear Jump. These two exercises will incorporate more cardio along with really working the rear end. The Power Up is an explosive movement asking the dog to start in a sit on the ground and then quickly touch the front paws to a high target and then go back to a sit. The Bear Jump has the dog in a 'sitting up' position, and then, without touching the ground with the front paws, jumps a low jump. This exercise is progressed by gradually raising the jump bar to the dog's full height. It is a very advanced exercise.

Remember to have fun when working with your dog. Listen to what they tell you; if you had no problem doing 10 reps with perfect form and now your dog refuses to sit or cannot keep their front paws targeted, take a break. We all have good days and bad days. Rest days are important. Because this is mainly a strength exercise, do it at most every other day. Happy training!

For other articles in this series, visit:

Part One: Getting Started (8/26/15)

Leslie Eide, DVM, CCRT
FitPAWS® Master Trainer" Instructor

Leslie graduated from Colorado State University's Veterinary School in 2006. She completed a rotating internship in small animal medicine in Albuquerque, NM. She continued her education by becoming certified in canine rehabilitation through the Canine Rehab Institute with a focus in sports medicine. She continues to learn more about rehabilitation, sports medicine and pain management through daily practice and continuing education seminars.

In the agility world, Leslie has trained two dogs to their ADCH, one to ADCH Bronze, ATCH2, and MACH. Three of her dogs have qualified and competed at USDAA Nationals with multiple Grand Prix Semi-final runs. She currently competes with 3 dogs in agility.

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