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SkiErg for Swim Training

The Concept2 SkiErg is probably the best piece of equipment for swimmers that the guys at Concept2 didn’t realise they had created. As the name suggests, the SkiErg is designed to mimic the cross-country skiing, ‘poling’ action. Just like the Concept2 Rowing machine is used by rowers to perform dryland workouts, the SkiErg is designed for skiers. They are also used extensively in gyms and health clubs around the World as excellent means of cardio and strength endurance workouts.

What swimmers have begun to realise though, is that the SkiErg is a brilliant way to work on strength, power, endurance and technique out of the pool.

For dryland training swimmers have always used bungee cords fixed to a wall or pole as a means of simulating stroke in the water. This is good as a warmup but as a workout, there is no variability as far as resistance goes and there is no way to measure the output other than with a stopwatch. As a result, it is also extremely boring

The Concept2 SkiErg builds strength and endurance by working the entire body with the poling motion integral to all techniques of Nordic skiing.

Concept2 SkiErg

The Concept2 SkiErg can be used to simulate the swim stroke in a standing position. Allowing the swimmer to still focus on their posture, high elbow catch, pull through and hip rotation, as they would in the water. Because there is no need to turn the head to breathe and vision is clear and unobstructed, the ability to focus on the correct hand-path and coordination of the various movements involved in an efficient and powerful swim stroke is easy. This would be further enhanced if the machine is set up in front of a mirror. Grooving technique and proprioception out of the water and strengthening the joints involved in these complex movements, will definitely translate to a more efficient and powerful stroke in the water. All strokes can be simulated using the SkiErg as well. Freestyle, backstroke and butterfly strokes could be used with bungees, but backstroke is almost impossible.

Natural movement

The action of the flywheel on the SkiErg is also much more ‘natural’ than a set of cords. A bungee will pull your hand back as the arm performs the ‘recovery’ portion of the swim stroke. On the SkiErg there is no pull back during the recovery phase and the arm moves back in a relaxed manner to begin the ‘catch’ again.

Varied Resistance

The SkiErg allows the athlete to vary resistance in the same way as the Rower and the BikeErg utilising the same flywheel. This allows the athlete to elicit different, desired workout results. It also makes dryland training far more interesting than simply pulling on a set of bungee cords. Endurance, power and speed can all be trained while maintaining good technique. Workouts are also easy to perfectly replicate, and outputs and improvements can be precisely measured by means of the sophisticated PM5 head unit. Data from the head unit can also be uploaded to PC or Mac to your online training logbook for analysis and future reference.

Measured Variables

As opposed to the old method of dryland training, using bungee cords, the SkiErg measures and displays all the training variables: power; heart rate; stroke rate (cadence), calories etc. Making spending time on dry land much more stimulating and measurable than it has ever been before. It is also a great piece of equipment for performing testing, as conditions can be perfectly controlled and repeated over a whole season.

Dryland Training

With the Concept2 SkiErg, dryland training need not just be something swimmers do in the off-season. It should form an integral part of a swimmer’s weekly training schedule and, just like a swimmer will vary intensity and recovery periods of their training sets, depending on what period of the season they are in, so to can workouts on the SkiErg be adjusted to elicit the desired training effect depending on the training phase.

Cyclists have BikeErgs, runners have treadmills, now swimmers have their own piece of indoor equipment that will add exceptional variety and performance enhancements to their training schedules.

Comments (3)

  • Andrew Reply

    Good article Donovan.

    I recently bought a Concept 2 SkiErg to assist with my swimming training. I mainly do 20km swim events and like being able to train whilst minimising wear and tear or rotator cuff.

    Do you have a view or recommendation for style on the SkiErg? Double or single arm pull down? Palm down or palm facing in?

    I am trying to decide how effective for swimming the equipment is using as seem primarily intended by C2 with double pull down palms facing in.

    Regards

    Andrew

    12th Jan 2021 at 4:26 am
    • Donovan van Gelder Reply

      Thanks Andrew. The Ski Erg is definitely a great dryland training tool. I discovered it when I was exploring the different options available but I didn’t like the ones where we lie flat and mimic the swim stroke. My problem with that is that there is no rotation in that action and I believe that most power in the freestyle stroke is hip driven and comes from the body rotation. This I try to simulate while standing in front of the Ski Erg, using an alternate, single arm pull. I also mimic the high elbow as well as the hand and forearm position whilst keeping the resistance light so as to not overload the shoulder. Palms in using the ‘ski poling’ action will reduce the strain on the rotator cuff and allow us to increase the load on the big muscles in the lats and pecs. This also has it’s benefits, so, I think a mix of both techniques will be beneficial. I will always favour single arm alternate strokes as in swimming but double pulls will again allow more force and resistance which will add the strength and power benefits from the workout. DvG

      13th Jan 2021 at 11:16 am
      • Andrew Page Reply

        Thanks again. – your reply was very helpful.

        25th Jan 2021 at 3:00 am

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