4 SkiErg Sprint Tips and a Race Strategy


The SkiErg sprint made so easy even a kid could do it!

Have you tried the Concept2 SkiErg yet? Maybe your first SkiErg sprint introduction is coming this weekend with Concept2’s annual event, the SkiErg Sprints?

 

Don’t let that scare you!  Short-distance pieces and sprints on the Ski Erg are some of the best ways to get comfortable on the machine.  It’s a great way to get your blood pumping, and a nice change of pace from a lot of the other equipment in the gym.

 

Given that gravity is in play and that the Ski Erg is a total-body machine (with an emphasis on the torso and arms), the SkiErg definitely gets your heart rate rolling quickly.

 

4 keys to a spectacular skierg sprint

  1. Warm up properly! As we say in our trainer tips, the shorter the workout, the longer the warmup needs to be.  To ski a 500-meter piece, for example, you should plan on at least a 10 to 15-minute warmup on the rowing machine, jogging, or on another piece of cardio equipment. Don’t be afraid to break a sweat before you start your sprint.
  2. Have a target split: Once you’re warmed up, jump on the SkiErg for 5 minutes or so to get comfortable before you do your actual sprint.  Easy rowing here, but throw in a couple of rounds of 10 hard strokes.  Watch your split on the hard strokes, that will give you a sense for what target you might try to hit during the actual sprint. Write your target split on a piece of paper taped where you can see it during the sprint, or set the pace skier on your monitor.
  3. Use a sprint start: Whenever you’ve got a dead flywheel to deal with, the best thing is to take a few short strokes to get it moving. It saves your back AND gets you to your target split faster.  Perfect.
  4. Have a race plan (See below): Even on a short sprint, it’s helpful to plan how you’re going to cover the distance to your best advantage.  Decide what you’re going to do for each segment of the piece, or have a split you’re determined to either reach or beat.  Whatever it takes for you to stay on target, especially once the going gets rough.  Once you have it in mind, write it out if it helps and tape it to your SkiErg.

Skierg tips for a fast 1000m

Beginners and Intermediates:

If this is your first attempt then keep that thought front and center!  Remember the beauty of the challenge and being a beginner (or even us old experienced dogs) is that if you’re not happy with your time you can do it again, after some rest.  The challenge takes place over 3 days.  Do it Friday, recover Saturday and repeat Sunday if need be.

A 1K blast is just that…a BLAST!  Cardio, strength and heart rate to the max once you find your technique and confidence to go hard.

The goal on your first one really should be just to get it done!  Learn from the experience.  With your monitor set for 1000 meters you can go back into the memory after and see where you felt you could have done better.  You can see your split/500, SPM and heart rate if you wear a HR monitor. All helpful to plan your strategy for the next one.

The best strategy is to train for this so that you are prepared.  It is a mental as well as physical challenge, and the only way to learn is to train and test yourself against your own time, and then your age group.  However, if you just want to do it this weekend there’s no reason not to just jump on and go.  The beauty of the erg is if you go out too hard you can always back off and hold or come back.

The start and strategy:

The flywheel is dead at the start so it’s always a good idea to take a few short strokes and gradually lengthen out from there. The first minute of any sprint is exciting and an adrenalin rush so breathe!  Short strokes to your pace then lengthen and hold.  Watch your split and end time.  If you’re on target stay there.  If you need mental pick-me-ups take a hard 5- 10 strokes every 250 -300m. HOLD ON!  Last 300m dial in your CAN-DO ATTITUDE to the finish!

Plant the poles about eye brow level, drive to your pockets, chest up, hip extension and flexion but not so you kiss the flywheel! And use your legs as shock absorbers. This is not just upper body and if you isolate just your upper body to do the work you will risk a best effort with poor technique and also potentially burnout too soon and not finish. You should feel this total body when done. Watch the technique skier in your monitor under information for a reminder.

When done do not fall off the machine gasping! Please stand up and take all intensity off for at least1 -2 min. Let that HR recover then slip out of the handles and walk around and get some water.

Bravo you did it!

We sometimes see people break out in a cold sweat when they think they have to do a 5k their first time out on the machine.  That’s not necessary!  You should ease into skiing the same way you work your way into rowing, a few minutes at a time.

Give the flywheel a chance to work its Zen magic, and use that time to get your technique right, too.  Concept2 has a great SkiErg technique video that will get you started.

Once you’ve got some skiing experience, short sprints are an excellent way to test yourself on the machine.  Concept2 also offers SkiErg challenges several times throughout the year, and this weekend’s Sprints are no exception.  They’re a great chance to set a goal to work toward, and compete against other skiers around the world.

If a sprint piece (like 100, 250, 500 or 1000 meters) is on your workout agenda, we’ve got some tips to help you nail it.  Read on.

 

If you’d like more ideas for rowing or SkiErging workouts, grab our Meter Monster (erg-only) or Flywheel Frenzy (erg intervals with other equipment) workouts sets.  29 workouts total in both programs, including a suggested calendar for how to use them.  Buy one or both, but they are available only until Sunday, Nov. 12 at midnight EST.

 

suggested 500m skierg sprint race plan

Here’s one way to attack a 500-meter piece.  You can modify it for longer distances, too.  Begin with your sprint start of a few short strokes, gradually building to the full stroke.  Follow that with 10-20 hard strokes, then settle in to your race pace.  Don’t “fly and die,” keep your adrenaline under control and stay steady through the middle of the piece.  Then, with 100-200 meters to go, fire the afterburners and empty the tank!

NOTE: Never stop completely after a hard effort like a SkiErg sprint! Keep moving slowly for a few minutes and let your heart rate come down.  Grab a big drink of water, stretch out, and log your meters and time in your Concept2 logbook.  Well done!!

watch how we do a Ski erg sprint start

 

Try this strategy and let us know in the comments how you did! Got questions?  We’ll answer those, too. SKI ON!

Want more rowing or skiing workouts?

Our Meter Monster and Flywheel Frenzy workout plans are designed to help you stay consistent with your workouts and give you a plan to follow, whether you row solo at home or the gym, or you teach rowing class.  Both plans are available for immediate download now, but only until Sunday, Nov. 10 at midnight EST.  After that they go away until next year.

Last update: Nov. 10, 2017

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