Popularised by concept 2, CrossFit Gyms and Hyrox, Ski erg’s are showing up in more and more gyms but from personal experience I see a lot of people avoiding these machines. They can provide a great cardiovascular workout that works a broad group of muscles in the back arms core and legs.
- Focus on your technique – Remember the old weightlifting expression “slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. Just walking up to a ski erg and going at it like a madman might jack up your heartrate but give it a couple of minutes and your pace will start to fall. Focus on a strong foot position and strong core (don’t hunch over and keep your chest out). Pull the handles down to the floor whilst bending your legs, let the handles return to the highest point you can, the longer you can pull the more efficient you can be.
- Use all of your body – I mentioned to start with that this a whole body work out so make sure you use your body equally. You need to keep the core tight as you pull down squatting your legs and finish the pull with your arms. Rather than just pulling with your arms again that is inefficient.
- Remember there is a drive and recover phase in each stroke – As you drive the handles toward the floor you should focus on pulling with explosiveness and power. Once you reach the bottom of the pull you enter the recovery phase of the stroke as you control the handles back to the top of the machine.
- Focus on your breathing – Exhale in the drive and inhale in the recovery. You should be exhaling as you pull down and then as you reach tall and your chest is fully open in the recover phase take a deep breath. Keeping your breathing controlled will help you maintain a rhythm on your stroke rate as well.
- Find your stroke rate – The ski erg is a consistent height regardless of if you are a male or female, short or tall. A taller athlete is generally going to get a longer stroke so can tolerate a slower longer stroke rate to hit a set speed, a shorter athlete who does not have as long a reach would have to accept a higher stroke rate as they will not be pulling as far.
Remember as with every new piece of kit or exercise to approach it being considerate that this is a completely new stimulus for you, don’t go too gung ho the first time you use it. Gradually increase your intensity and you may soon find out why the ski erg is such a popular piece of kit…