A 2000 meter race. Just the thought strikes fear in the hearts of indoor rowers. As sprinting on the SkiErg grows in popularity it’s likely to do the same for indoor skiers. Fear not, intrepid athletes! With a good SkiErg strategy, hopefully paired with a strong training plan, the 2k ski is an entirely doable distance for most people.
As always, before attempting a sprint of this distance you will want to be sure you’re warmed up. Give yourself 1000-2000 meters to warm up, either on the rowing machine or the SkiErg. Once you’ve got a sweat starting to roll, switch to the SkiErg if you’re on the rowing machine and do 1-3 practice SkiErg racing starts.Follow the 1/2, 1/2, 3/4, full stroke formula followed by 10 strokes at race pace, then ski easy for a minute. Do this no more than three times.
Stretch and hydrate, and don’t forget to visit the restroom if you need to.
For the actual sprint, try this strategy. Optimally you would practice it and see how it feels before you do your “official” race. But even if you’re doing this without the benefit of rehearsal, this is a solid plan that should get you through in fine fashion.
2k Skierg strategy
Here’s a SkiErg strategy to try: Set the monitor for a 2000 meter piece (Select Workout>Standard List>2000m). Do a racing start followed by 10-20 hard strokes and then hold your pace. Take a hard 10 strokes to stay focused every 500 meters. With 250 meters to go, give it all you’ve got!
Ski easy for at least 3 minutes when you’re done to give your heart rate a chance to come down. Once you’ve caught your breath, get off and stretch.
Record your time in your Concept2 logbook and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!
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 atotal-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
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.
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.
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.
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 videothat 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.
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.
(This article, first posted on April 8, 2015 and updated Jan. 19, 2016, is the first in a series of occasional blog posts by UCanRow2’s Terry Smythe. Terry was diagnosed with mucosal melanoma in November, 2013. Exercise, especially on the Concept2 SkiErg and indoor rower, have been fundamental to her path of recovering from cancer.)
Recovering From Cancer: Fighting My Way Back to Me
Just over a year has passed since I had major surgery for rectal mucosal melanoma. I was diagnosed with this very rare and aggressive cancer on Nov. 5, 2013, with surgery on Jan. 9, 2014 and immunotherapy at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute beginning in August, 2014.
It’s been a roller coaster couple of years, with a background theme of questions: Frequent thoughts of WHY, HOW DARE IT, WHY ME??? I have spent my life, like all active and athletic people, doing the best I can to take care of myself so that my body can perform. I was a US national team rower, for heaven’s sakes! Then come the thoughts of WHY NOT? Cancer does not discriminate. Why am I better than anyone else? Why should I deserve a pass with a cancer diagnosis? Am I that special? I am human and therefore subject to the same as anyone else, but I don’t like it. There is anger hidden behind the game face that I am so accustomed to putting on.
The difference today as I look back on this year is the realization that came to me during a recent conversation with my business partner. She said, “You’re mad, you’re pissed off because cancer picked you when this is not how you have lived your life. You have worked your whole life to not have this happen and you went and got it anyway.” Well put.
(Good thing this a blog because not only am I a multi-tasking, 5-things-going-at-once kind of gal, but cancer treatment has added to my challenges with focus, especially when I have a lot to say. Pardon my randomness and I will work to get better as I blog.)
To get to recovering from cancer let me begin at the beginning:
My cancer required a full APR (abdominoperineal resection) since my cancer extended from my vaginal wall through the anal-rectal canal and into my butt!! YES! Doesn’t that SUCK? I was essentially fileted from my belly button to past my butt and I woke up with a permanent colostomy! “WHO AM I NOW?” screamed in my head.
Jan. 9, 2014 I lay in pre-op at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA with my sister and my best friend since age 11 at my side. My original surgery date was Jan. 7, but pipes burst in the hospital compromising all operating rooms. You have no idea the prep I had to do for the 7th, then be there at 5:30 AM for surgery at 7:30 AM, only to watch the clock tick past my time and sense the urgency of “something is WRONG.” Then a nice lady walks up and offers: “There’s no easy way to say this but we will discount your parking. All surgeries are being rescheduled.” OMG! Breathe and let that this-cannot-be-happening-to-ME feeling pass. Being the amazing person she is, my surgeon, Dr. Sarah Russell, called shortly after and assured me this would be OK and not to worry. Ha! But I trusted her and she took good care of me.
My sister gave me socks to wear into this cancer war that said, “I am Amazing” and “I am Strong.” The surgical staff appreciated our attitude and promised to remember who was on the table. I remember feeling scared, but confident that Dr. Russell would get it all. I also remember completely focusing in my head that at that moment I was lying there fully capable of doing a 100-mile bike, any kind of row, Crossfitting, skiing etc. … and that in a matter of hours my life would NEVER be the same. I had to be brave, I had to dig deep into all I had ever overcome in life to crawl back to me. Not only did my family and friends EXPECT this of me, I DID.
I thought to myself, “I have my army of support and my awesome medical team and I will prevail. I will not let that expectation down.” Honestly, I wanted to curl up in the fetal position and just cry; I wanted to be Dorothy in Oz and wake up from a bad dream with Hazel Bear (the UCanRow2 dog) licking my face as if to say that life was just fine and the same as always. I did not.
Let the Healing Begin
My surgeon assured me she had gotten it all and that now was all about healing. Easy to say and HARD to do. Healing is a big word and the definition is cancer’s roller coaster of emotions, phases, treatments, doctors, family, friends, everything that gives you joy, a lot of what you hate, and it changes daily.
How my life has changed since Jan. 9, 2014. From daily visits to the gym I have gone to working out whenever I feel up to it and sometimes-daily visits to the hospital. Still, I am lucky: 5 -10 years ago the odds were not good for survival past a year but there was hope. Today there is more hope and I do cling to the thought that with each passing day more is discovered about how to give me more options to live a strong life.
We row on.
My first workout back at my Bodyshop gym was a far cry from what I’m used to, but a good fit for where I was: Rebuilding my strength after major surgery. I lasted just 15 minutes on the SkiErg, at a pace slower than 3 minutes/500 meters, close to a minute off what I’m used to. Afterwards I needed a three-hour nap. So be it. I did it, and that’s what matters. Cancer, and recovering from cancer, changes everything when it comes to fitness, too. Even for an athlete like me. Especially for an athlete like me. I have progressed from where I was that first day but I am still learning to be ok with the ups and downs of the good days and bad days. When I feel good I push myself as hard as I can. On my less-good days I am working on being understanding and forgiving. It’s a process.
If you would like to read more about Terry’s journey please visit her CaringBridge page. If you have questions or comments for her, leave them in the comments here. We would love to know what you think!
We love birthdays and other big life events around here! They’re a great way to celebrate those special moments and build your fitness community, which is an important part of any successful fitness business. People never get tired of them, and in fact they look forward to that shared sinking feeling you get when you know there’s a challenging workout coming up. Plus, they’re a great way to add variety to your workout routine.
Yes, lots of gyms like to do birthday burpees and the like, but we’d like to encourage you to take that a step farther and really get creative. We’ll give you some examples, but we’d also love to hear how you mark those big days.
Weddings, anniversaries, birth of babies – or grandbabies. They all provide opportunities to do something out of the norm. For example, when one of our members had her first grandbaby (Born 3/12/15, weighing 9.5 lbs., 22 inches long), we celebrated with this workout:
Welcome Cosmos Workout
Warm up then do 3-5 rounds of:
1215m row or ski
9 snatch jacks or jumping jacks
9 “Charlie’s Angel’s” squats with a twist (From sumo squat position, extend arms in front of body and interlace fingers as if pointing gun. Rotate ribs slowly R and L, hips facing forward)
22 split lunges or med-ball cleans or ball slams
9 hollow rocks or sit-ups
Landmark or other birthdays are another fun one to do this way.
In our UCanRow2 Bodyshop small-group personal training studio we’ll set up a workout where our athletes row or ski meters equaling the person’s birth year, for example, then add reps revolving around their age. Or make it harder and make the birth year a meter interval. Usually we try to include the birthday girl or boy’s favorite moves or machines. And yes, we always make our birthday workouts challenging. There’s nothing like a good shared sweat to commemorate another year of life!
Here are a couple of examples we’ve done:
Happy 51st Birthday Sarah
Ski 510 m
10 DB snatch (LR=1 or 5 each side)
25 sit ups
510m run or row
10 KB swings
Finisher: 51 jumping jacks or double unders or burpees.
The aftermath of a half-marathon on the Concept 2 skierg.
Have you ever referred to the drag factor on your Concept2 indoor rower or SkiErg? It’s the number that tell you how much resistance is on the flywheel and gives you an indication of how hard you have to pull (or push-pull in the case of the rowing machine). Traveling ergers and competitive indoor rowing racers love this tool: Once you know the drag factor you like you can adjust the damper setting on any C2 machine to hit your factor (Concept2 has a great rundown on how to do it.). Voila, it’s almost like you never left home!
Enter the SkiErg. We got a question on our Facebook page about how rowing-machine drag factor compares to the SkiErg. The machines are apples and oranges in that respect, unfortunately. Although they are both total-body machines, they are mirror images of each other in terms of the forces used by the body parts: The rower is primarily leg-driven while the Ski Erg is primarily torso-driven.
Therefore, as Concept2’s Greg Hammond puts it: “There is really no way to compare the two, each person is going to vary based on their strengths. On the rower if you are very quad-dominant then you would be able to hold a higher drag load over time. If that same person had an underdeveloped upper body then they would not be able to hold the same drag on the SkiErg.”
Here’s how to see the drag factor on your machine:
a) From the Main Menu select More Options
b) Select Display Drag Factor
c) Row or ski, the monitor will show your drag factor after a few seconds
So, play around with it and see what works for you. Then hit up the comments and tell us what you’ve found – post your drag factor for both machines and let’s see if a trend develops.
Want to learn more about the SkiErg? Come to one of our trainings that includes SkiErg instruction! We offer them around the country on a regular basis. Check our training calendar to find one near you.