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You’re familiar with the standard cardio players—the treadmill (both motorized and nonmotorized); the spin, recumbent, and Airdyne bikes; and the StairMaster—but we’d like to introduce you to a lesser-known member of the roster: the SkiErg.
Released by Concept2 (the same company that invented the popular Concept2 Rower, or Erg) in 2009, the SkiErg emulates the double-pole technique used by Nordic skiers. The user stands in front of the towerlike machine and grabs a handle in each hand. Then he uses his full body to pull the “poles” down before butterflying his arms back up to smoothly transition into another rep. The result is an upper-body-heavy cardio sesh that’s easy on the joints and, according to Equinox trainer Dan Daly, C.S.C.S., promotes postural health.
“The SkiErg can encourage tall long posture with the overhead reach, followed by a deep sit into the hips,” says Daly, who also notes that the user should start to adapt to the unfamiliar mechanics of the machine in two weeks.
If you have access to a SkiErg, then read up on how to utilize it three different ways.
Daly has outlined three workouts, all geared toward a different goal. You can sub in any of the protocols for one of your normal cardio workouts, or Daly suggests taking a more regimented approach.
“Ideally, beginners should start with the steady-state protocol, move into the threshold workout, and then cap off the program with the HIIT regimen,” explains Daly, who recommends doing the same workout twice a week for four weeks before moving on to the next.
So you’d do two steady-state sessions per week for four weeks. Then you’ll repeat that schedule two more times: once with the threshold regimen and then once with the HIIT protocol.
The Lowdown: “This protocol improves an exerciser’s peak cardivascular and power output,” Daly says. “It’s used to develop sprinting speed, and it’s an efficient way to boost fat loss.”
Do it: After a 5-minute warmup, perform a hard 10-second sprint followed by 45 seconds of rest. Repeat 10 times. Check your wattage— or power output—displayed on the screen for each sprint and find your average. Aim to improve that over the course of 4 weeks.
The Lowdown: “The distance and intensity you’ll row during this protocol translate pretty well to most sports,” Daly explains. “It increases your ability to sustain repetitive efforts of submaximal power and improves the body’s ability to buffer lactate and anaerobic waste.”
Do it: Warm up for 5 minutes by rowing at a moderate pace. Then perform a 3-minute bout of strenuous rowing, followed by 1 minute of rest. Repeat 5 times. Record your average 500-meter pace for each set (shown on the SkiErg’s display screen) and find the average. Aim to decrease that cycle over 4 weeks.
The Lowdown: “This will help you develop proper technique, while improving your body’s ability to use fat for fuel, improve your endurance, and decrease your resting heart rate and blood pressure,” Daly says.
Do it: Simply row for 20 minutes and record your distance. The goal is to increase distance covered by the end of 4 weeks.