Ski Erg Workouts to Build Powerful Endurance and Mental Grit

The Ski Erg was initially designed to allow Nordic cross country skiiers to train even if they couldn’t get out into the wild. It has now become hugely popular with endurance and functional fitness athletes as a great way to build a powerful engine.

Benefits of the Ski Erg

  • Improved muscle endurance under low central nervous system (CNS) fatigue
  • Building upper body pulling
  • Low demand on the brain because of no eccentric
  • Great paring exercise  – as it is aerobic and not CNS draining
  • Good blood flow movement
  • Good rhythm and relaxation exercise when the damper is low and the speed is more of a MAP 10 aerobic speed
  • Less taxing than something like a rower (when you build efficiency in the technique) – bike would be the most simple so if your technique is poor, you should probably use the bike for a metabolic response

The SkiErg makes the sport of Nordic skiing available to everyone. Long recognized as delivering one of the toughest workouts around, Nordic skiing develops both strength and endurance and exercises the legs as well as the arms and core. The SkiErg can be used for both double pole and classic alternating arm technique.

Browse our extensive collection of workouts

Whether you’re an elite cross-country skier looking to improve your poling power, a weekend enthusiast wanting to get into shape for the ski season, or a functional fitness athlete looking for a great workout, the SkiErg will help you achieve your goals.

What Muscles does the Ski Erg Work?

These Ski Erg Workouts will strengthen and develop your back, shoulders, arms and core. When coupled with other movements and training stimuli, your muscular endurance and mental strength will also be tested and improved. Check out these exercises if you want to strengthen your arms.

How to Improve your Ski Erg Technique

  1. Begin with your hands and feet shoulder-width apart and hands slightly above your head. Your arms should be bent.
  2. Drive the handles downward by engaging your core abdominal muscles and bending your knees. Maintain the bend in your arms to keep the handles fairly close to your face.
  3. Finish the drive with knees slightly bent, and arms extended down alongside your thighs.
  4. Extend your arms upward and straighten your body to return to the start position.

Once you are comfortable with the basic skiing technique, you can add variations such as standing with one foot forward and one foot back, then switching feet. You may also find yourself coming up on your toes at certain parts of the drive, just as you do on your skis.

You can also use the SkiErg without legs to work just the upper body and core. Used this way, the SkiErg provides a high quality workout option for those recovering from leg or foot injuries. This may be done from either a standing position, or seated on a stool.

How do I get Better at Ski Erg?

Get into triple extension where you are all of the way hip extended with your arms as high up overhead as the machine allows (if you’re too tall, you’re out of luck unfortunately), and you’re on your toes.

Drop into the ground, and at the same time flex your knees and hips while driving your arms down toward the ground – That action should try to work all together.

“Lather, rinse, and repeat” – Don’t overcomplicate this movement, it is a concentric movement followed by a reload into the triple extension movement again and again.

What is a good 500m Ski Erg Time?

Here are the current World Records.

EventMen’s recordWomen’s record
500m1:24.01:48.0

Before we dive into the workouts, if you are interested to get a ski erg for your home gym, or if you are a Box or Gym Owner looking to bring this effective tool into your programming for the benefit of your members, check out our first choice…the Concept2 Ski Erg.

Ski erg Concept 2 machine
Enhance your fitness ©Rogue Fitness

WORKOUT 1 (PARTNER)

For Time (with a Partner)

  • 800 metre Run (together)
  • 100 Pull-Ups
  • 100 Synchronized Push-Ups
  • 150 Synchronized Air Squats
  • 800 metre Run (together)

Split the pull-ups as necessary. Only one athlete works at a time while the other athlete rests.

Scaling

  • For Time (with a Partner)
  • 800 metre Run (together)
  • 1000 metre Ski Erg (shared)
  • 100 Synchronized Push-Ups
  • 150 Synchronized Air Squats
  • 800 metre Run (together)

WORKOUT 2

For Time

10-8-6-4-2 reps of:

  • Calorie Ski
  • Press Ups
  • Push Presses (95/75 lb)

Perform the given set of exercises starting with a volume of 10 and decreasing at a rate of 2 until done, in the shortest time possible.

Score in this workout is based on the amount of time taken to complete the prescribed amount of work.

Scaling

Perform the Press Ups on your knees.

Lower the weight of the Pus Presses.

WORKOUT 3

For Time

  • 40 Kettlebell Snatches (24/20 kg)
  • 20 calorie Ski
  • 40 Kettlebell Goblet Squats (24/20 kg)
  • 20 calorie Ski
  • 40 Kettlebell Clean-and-Presses (24/20 kg)
  • 20 calorie Ski
  • 40 Kettlebell Swings (24/20 kg)
  • 20 calorie Ski

The athlete will alternate between kettlebell movements and the ski erg. The workout concludes when the athlete finishes all of the movements.

Score is the time it takes to complete all of the reps.

Scaling

For Time

  • 20 Kettlebell Snatches (16/12 kg)
  • 10 calorie Ski
  • 20 Kettlebell Goblet Squats (16/12 kg)
  • 10 calorie Ski
  • 20 Kettlebell Clean-and-Presses (16/12 kg)
  • 10 calorie Ski
  • 20 Kettlebell Swings (16/12 kg)
  • 10 calorie Ski

SKI ERG WORKOUT 4

For Time

  • 10 calorie Ski Erg
  • 10 Alternating Dumbbell Snatches (50/35 lb)
  • 200 metre Run
  • 20 calorie Ski Erg
  • 20 Alternating Dumbbell Snatches (50/35 lb)
  • 200 metre Run
  • 30 calorie Ski Erg
  • 30 Alternating Dumbbell Snatches (50/35 lb)
  • 200 metre Run

Dumbbell snatches must hit the ground before each rep, transition is permitted in the air from shoulder level or below.

Score is the time after the workout is completed.

Scaling

For Time

  • 10 calorie Ski Erg
  • 10 Alternating Dumbbell Snatches (35/20 lb)
  • 200 metre Run
  • 20 calorie Ski Erg
  • 20 Alternating Dumbbell Snatches (35/20 lb)
  • 200 metre Run
  • 30 calorie Ski Erg
  • 30 Alternating Dumbbell Snatches (35/20 lb)
  • 200 metre Run

SKI ERG WORKOUT 5

5 Rounds for Total Calories in 75 minutes

  • 200 metre Run
  • 5 minute calorie Ski Erg
  • 5 minute calorie Row

Rest 3 minutes

On a 75-minute clock, perform 5 rounds of 200 metre Run, 5-minute calorie SkiErg, and 5-minute calorie Row with 3 minutes rest between rounds.

Score is the total number of calories completed before the 75-minute clock stops.

Scaling

Decrease the interval times from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.

Build a powerful engine with these Jumping Jacks Workouts.

WORKOUT 6

For Time

21-18-15-12-9 reps of:

  • Barbell Thrusters (95/65 lb)
  • Calorie Ski Erg

Then, directly into:

  • 30 Handstand Push-Ups

Time Cap: 15 minutes

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written. Athlete will perform 21 Thrusters and 21 calorie Ski Erg before moving to 18 Thrusters and 18 calorie Ski Erg etc.

After the last set of 9 Thrusters and 9 calorie Ski Erg, athlete will perform 30 Handstand Push-Ups.

Score is the time on the clock when the last rep of handstand push-ups is completed.

Movement Standards

Thruster: Full lockout overhead, squat below parallel. Must be performed in one full motion. Front squat into push press is not allowed.

Ski Erg: Must reset the erg every round. Must hold the handles until the Ski Erg clearly has clicked to the specified number of calories. If an athlete gets off early, there is a 2 rep penalty assessed at the end.

Handstand Push-Up: 3’x2′ box. Feet together at the top of each rep with arms locked out.

Scaling

For Time

21-18-15-12-9 reps of:

  • Thrusters (75/45 lb)
  • Calorie Ski Erg

Then, directly into:

  • 30 Dumbbell Push Presses (2×50/35 lb)

WORKOUT 7

3 Rounds, for Calories in 34 minutes

  • 2 minutes Air Bike
  • 2 minutes Rest
  • 2 minutes Row
  • 2 minutes Rest
  • 2 minutes SkiErg
  • 2 minutes Rest

One calorie equals one rep. Score is total calories.

Scaling

This Ski Erg Workout can be done by everyone without scaling.

WORKOUT 8

For Time

60-50-40-30-20 calories of:

  • Row
  • Bike
  • Ski

Rest for the same amount of time that it took you to finish one set.

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written. Athlete must accomplish 60 calorie Row, 60 calorie Bike, and 60 calorie Ski. You will rest the same time it took you to complete the preceding round of calories. If it takes 2:30 to row 60 calories, then you will rest 2:30 before starting the calorie round of 50.

Score is the time on the clock when the last round of Ski is completed.

Scaling

Everyone can try this workout.

WORKOUT 9 – MIKKO’S TRIANGLE

EMOM for 39 minutes

  • 1 minute Row
  • 1 minute Ski Erg
  • 1 minute Assault Bike
  • 1 minute Rest

Set a single number of calories and complete that amount of work each minute – every minute.

Set a target number of calories and complete that number of calories each minute through the entire workout (39 minutes not counting the last 1-minute rest). A common target for Rx-level athletes is 20 calories per minute for each station.

Score is the total number of calories completed (for example, if athlete does 20 calories per minute, they will complete 600 total calories for the entire workout).

Scaling

Reduce the number of calories per minute to a number which will be challenging to hold each minute for the entire workout.

WORKOUT 10

For Time

  • 100 calorie Row
  • 100 calorie Ski Erg
  • 100 calorie Assault Air Bike

Every 2 minutes, perform:

  • 7 Burpees

Perform the 7 burpees at the two-minute mark, and every two minutes after that (but not at the start of the workout).

Scaling

Half the number of calories that you need to complete.

WORKOUT 11 (PARTNER)

For Time (with a Partner)

  • Buy-In: 2,000 metre Ski

Then, 15 Rounds of:

  • 12 Dumbbell Thrusters (2×50/35 lb)
  • 10 Stone Over Shoulders (100/70 lb)
  • Cash-Out: 2,900 metre Bike

*Every 7 minutes, perform 22 Burpees (each)

Time Cap: 40 minutes

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written. Athletes must accomplish the 2,000 metre ski before moving on to the 15 rounds of dumbbell thrusters and stone over shoulders. If you don’t have a Stone, use a Dead Ball, Sandbag, or other odd object. After the 15 rounds, athletes must accomplish the 2,900 metre bike.

Score is the time on the clock when the bike is completed.

Scaling

Lower the weight of the Dumbbell Thrusters.

Use a lighter Stone or replace with a D-Ball.

Reduce the number of Burpees to be completed every 7 minutes.

SKI ERG WORKOUT 12

For time

  • 1 mile run
  • 100 calorie air bike
  • 100 calorie ski
  • 100 calorie row
  • 1 mile run

This is a long, slow, distance aerobic workout.

Each set should be scaled so it does not exceed 12 minutes, putting the time cap on this workout at 60 minutes. For a class setting, participants could start on different ergs and work for up to 8 minutes.

This workout requires little warm up, beyond preparing the legs for running, which is the highest impact movement of the 4. The strategy would be to settle in and be prepared for a long workout.

The runs could also be shortened and the workout be done at a slow, steady pace if the athlete wishes to use this as a recovery day.

Intermediate athletes can do the workout as it is written.

Scaling

Beginners should have a smaller time cap like 30 minutes and cut the required work in half.

WORKOUT 13

For Time

6 Rounds of:

  • 15 calorie Ski Erg
  • 15 Burpees

Rest 5 minutes

Directly into, 3 Rounds of:

  • 30 Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lb)
  • 500 metre Row

Time Cap: 50 minutes

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work. VANDROSS consists of 2 parts that you should complete one after another. Between part a) and part b) you have 5 minutes rest.

Score is the time on the clock when the last round of the 500 metre Row is completed.

Tips and Strategy

Part A includes 6 rounds of 15 calorie Ski Erg combined with 15 Burpees. The Burpees are crucial here, do them at moderate! After this part, rest for 5 minutes.

Part B consists of 3 rounds of 30 Wall Ball Shots and 500 metre Row. This is a sprint. Find a swift pace for Rowing and divide the Wall Ball Shots into 2-3 sets at the most.

Scaling

You can scale this workout by decreasing Part A from 6 to 3 rounds and Part B by cutting the reps in half.

WORKOUT 14

For Time

30-25-20-15-10-5 reps of:

  • Calorie Ski Erg
  • Bench Presses (155/105 lb)
  • 3 Rope Climbs (after each round)

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written. Athlete must accomplish 30 calorie Ski Erg, 30 Bench Presses, and 3 Rope Climbs before moving on to 25 calorie Ski Erg, 25 Bench Presses, and 3 Rope Climbs and so on.

Score is the time on the clock when the last set of Rope Climbs is completed.

Scaling

Lower the weight on the Bench Press.

Replace Rope Climbs with Lat Pull Downs

SKI ERG WORKOUT 15 (PARTNER)

For Time (with a Partner)

  • 4,000 metre Row
  • 3,000 metre Bike
  • 2,000 metre Ski
  • 1,000 metre Run

Every 5 minutes, each partner completes:

  • 10 Bar Facing Burpees
  • 10 Push Presses (95/65 lb)

Partners trade-off every minute except for on the run. Every 5 minutes, no matter where they are, they will complete the 2 movements. When the partners get to the run, they are no longer required to do the 2 movements.

Score is the time it takes to finish all of the movements.

Scaling

Intermediate

For Time (with a Partner)

  • 4,000 metre Row
  • 3,000 metre Bike
  • 2,000 metre Ski
  • 1,000 metre Run

Every 5 minutes, each partner completes:

  • 10 Bar Facing Burpees
  • 10 Push Presses (95/65 lb)

Beginner

For Time (with a Partner)

  • 2,000 metre Row
  • 1,500 metre Bike
  • 1,000 metre Ski
  • 500 metre Run

Every 5 minutes, each partner completes:

  • 10 Bar Facing Burpees
  • 10 Push Presses (65/45 lb)

WORKOUT 16

For Time

  • 50 Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lb)
  • 40/30 calorie Ski
  • 30 Dumbbell Snatches (50/35 lb)
  • 20 Box Jump Overs (24/20 in)
  • 15 Press Ups

Scaling

Reduce the weight of the Wall Ball Shots and Dumbbell Snatches.

Lower the height of the Box Jump Overs.

WORKOUT 17 (PARTNER)

For Time (with a Partner)

  • 20/14 calorie Row (together)
  • 14 Rope Climbs
  • 40/28 calorie Ski (together)
  • 28 Sandbag Ground-to-Shoulders
  • 80/56 calorie Bike (together)
  • 56 Dumbbell Thrusters (2×50/35 lb)

Scaling

For Time (with a Partner)

  • 20/14 calorie Row (together)
  • 28 Toes-to-Bars
  • 40/28 calorie Ski (together)
  • 28 Sandbag Ground-to-Shoulders
  • 80/56 calorie Bike (together)
  • 56 Dumbbell Thrusters (2×35/25 lb)

WORKOUT 18

3 Rounds for Time

  • 10 Power Cleans (55/40 kg)
  • 6 Pull Ups
  • 90 calorie Row/Ski/Air Bike (switch each round)
  • Cash-Out: 11 Devil Presses (22.5/15 kg)

Wear a weight vest (10/8 kg)

Perform the 90 calories on a rower for round 1, on a skierg for round 2, and on an air bike for round 3.

Complete the 11 Devil Presses after all the rest of the work is completed.

Scaling

Don’t wear the weight vest.

Switch Pull Ups for Banded Pull Ups or Ring Rows.

Lower the weight for the Power Cleans and Devil Presses.

SKI ERG WORKOUT 19

With a Running Clock For Time

From 0:00-15:00, perform:

  • 500 metre Ski
  • 200 metre Dumbbell Farmer’s Carry (2×50/35 lb)
  • 350 metre Ski
  • 200 metre Dumbbell Farmer’s Carry (2×50/35 lb)
  • 200 metre Ski
  • 200 metre Dumbbell Farmer’s Carry (2×50/35 lb)

Rest remaining time.

Then, from 15:00-22:00, AMRAP Ladder of:

  • 2 Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lb)*
  • 1 Rope Climb

*Continue adding 2 reps the the wall balls every round.

Rest 2 minutes

Then, from 24:00-31:00, establish:

  • 1 rep max Clean-and-Jerk

Then, from 31:00-38:00, 3 Rounds of:

  • 12 Bar Facing Burpees
  • 12 Deadlifts (1RM of Clean-and-Jerk)

Rest remaining time.

Then, from 38:00-40:00, AMRAP of:

  • Bar Muscle-Ups

Rest 2 minutes

Finally from 42:00, for time of:

  • 1 mile Run
  • 500 Double-Unders*
  • *Every break, run 200 metres.

Before starting the clock I would recommend setting everything up prior to the beginning just to make sure you aren’t scrambling during the rest. Otherwise, the movements are pretty self-explanatory, and there are multiple scores associated with the workout.

Each section is scored differently whether it is for time, an AMRAP, or Max load.

Scaling

If there is no ski erg, the first part can be scaled to rowing.

If there is no rope, the rope climbs can be scaled to 5 strict pull-ups or 10 Ring Rows.

Bar Muscle-ups can be scaled to CTB Pull-Ups, or power snatches @50% of the 1RM Clean and Jerk.

The 500 double-unders can be scaled to 700 single-unders with the same rule of running every break, or a forced break every 150 reps.

WORKOUT 20

Three 15-minute AMRAPs in 55 minutes

From 0:00-15:00, 2-4-6-8-10-etc.:

  • Calorie Ski Erg
  • Power Cleans (135/95 lb)

Rest 5 minutes

From 20:00-35:00, 2-4-6-8-10-etc.:

  • Calorie Row
  • Box Jumps (24/20 in)

Rest 5 minutes

From 40:00-55:00, 2-4-6-8-10-etc.:

  • Calorie Bike
  • Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lb)

On a 55-minute clock, perform three 15-minute AMRAPs with 5-minute rest in between. Each AMRAP has two movements starting with 2 reps each, adding 2 reps every round until the 15-minute cap is up.

Score is the total number of repetitions completed before the 55-minute clock stops.

Scaling

Lower the weight for the Power Cleans and Wall Ball Shots.

Reduce the height of the Box Jumps.

SKI ERG WORKOUT 21

For Time

  • 20 calorie Bike/Row/Erg
  • 56 Deadlifts (225/155 lb)
  • 20 calorie Bike/Row/Erg
  • 56 Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lb)
  • 20 calorie Bike/Row/Erg
  • 56 Pull Ups
  • 20 calorie Bike/Row/Erg
  • 56 Toes-to-Bars

Perform 5 Burpees at the top of each minute

With a running clock, perform the workout as written. At 1:00 stop and perform 5 Burpees before continuing the workout when you left off. Stop again at 2:00 and at the top of each subsequent minute until the workout is completed.

Score is the time on the clock when the last Toes-to-Bar is completed.

Scaling

Lower the weight of the Deadlifts

Switch Pull Ups with Ring Rows.

SKI ERG WORKOUTS

Now you have a wide selection of workouts to choose from in order to enhance your physical and mental capacity for endurance.

SKI ERG FAQS

Any further questions? Check out our FAQs.

Is the Ski ERG a Good Workout?

When done properly, training on the SkiErg hits the lats, triceps, abdominals, pecs, biceps, quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and lower back. It’s also a good way to burn out your arms or back after a heavy bout of weight training.

Is a Ski ERG Worth It?

Yes. The Ski Erg machine is perfect for anyone who is seeking an alternative machine workout. It is low impact on the legs while still delivering a high intensity cardio workout. Whether you are looking for an intense cardio workout or something to complement the rest of your program, the Ski Erg should be a good fit.

How Effective is a Ski ERG?

If you have aches and pains in your knees or hips, the SkiErg is a good option because it’s low-impact and focuses on working the upper body, sparing your joints. Since the machine operates with a flywheel, you have a lot of control over the resistance and intensity.

Is a Ski ERG Better than a Rower?

With the Concept 2 SkiErg, the machine offers a full-body workout as well with emphasis on the upper-body, while the rower has a little more emphasis on the lower-body. Again, it comes down to personal preference.

Is Ski ERG Harder than Rowing?

The rower is 60 to 70 percent lower body. The SkiErg, on the other hand, is more of an upper-body cardio workout. Both can be programmed to deliver exceptionally difficult and challenging workouts. Both offer different stimuli so their effects cannot be compared exactly.

Is Ski ERG Good for Weight Loss?

The SkiErg – made by Concept2, the company responsible for creating the market-leading indoor rower – is one of the best weapons you can have in your fat loss arsenal.

Is Ski ERG a Full Body Workout?

Yes, it provides a full body workout. The Concept2 SkiErg helps you build strength and endurance by working the entire body in an efficient, rhythmic motion.

Is the Ski ERG Cardio?

Yes. It’s a cardiovascular exercise, so you’re getting your capacity burn and it’s versatile so you can use it for endurance or HIIT if you increase the intensity.

Is Ski ERG Bad for your Back?

When the Ski ERG is performed correctly it is not bad for your back. It can strengthen and improve the muscle groups of the core and back, making you fitter, stronger and less prone to back injury.

What can you do in Place of Ski ERG?

Rowing Machine, Air Assault, Ski Erg, and Running can all be used in place of each other as substitutions.

Does Ski ERG Work Legs?

The SkiErg can be used from a stool or chair, or simply with straight legs, putting the focus of the workout on your arms and core. The great thing about the SkiErg is that it allows you to choose the degree of leg involvement that works best for you at any given point in your training.

If you want more ways to challenge yourself then check out these Russian Twist, Man Maker or Ground to Overhead Workouts.

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