Six SkiErg Workouts To Make You Love/Hate This Effective Cardio Machine
1. Sprint, then “rest”
To add volume without form failing, keep bursts short. Do a 30-second ski sprint, then “rest” for 90 seconds. Why is “rest” in quotes? Because you’ll do one burpee in the first rest, two in the second… and so on up to 15.
Why? “A good all-round efficient ass-kicking with an added mental test because the deeper you get, the more work you have to complete,” says trainer Steve Kowalenko (virtus-strength.com). “The ‘rest’ period starts to get eaten up quickly towards the end.”
2. Use drop sets
The 500m is a classic distance on the rower and SkiErg – it builds power and endurance. Aim to ski it in two minutes, rest for 90 seconds, then do your next set in 1min 58sec. Keep shaving two seconds off your time until you can’t any more.
Why? You’ll build work capacity and movement efficiency without sacrificing speed. In this format, every effort ends in failure – but how long you can hold on is a test of sheer mettle.
3. Find a friend
“One of you will do 250m on the Erg while the other holds a barbell overhead,” says Kowalenko. “Swap, then repeat – so you both do both parts three times.” This drill’s sometimes known as “crack pipe”. Don’t ask why.
Why? “The harder you work, the quicker the hold is over for your partner – and it’s a tough position when you’re recovering. The more you can control your breathing in a compromised position, the better off you’ll be.”
4. Add some incentives
First, pick a movement – squats, burpees, press-ups or jump lunges. Now set the distance to 5,000m and get going. Every minute, jump off and do five reps. Then get back to the grind.
Why? “This can get bad very quickly,” says Kowalenko. “The longer it takes you to get off and complete the movement, the less time you’ll have to ski. The longer this takes, the more reps of the movement you’ll do. There is no hiding from this one!” Have fun.
5. Go all out for 100m
It’s the gold standard in sprinting. You’ll go faster if you’re heavier – World’s Strongest Man Eddie Hall did it in 13.1 seconds – but good technique will take you a long way. Think big pulls, bent knees, full body.
Why? All-out bursts of anaerobic effort will improve recruitment of your fast-twitch fibres as well as burning fat – ideal if you’re aiming to carve yourself into shape. Do six 100s, with 90-second rests, trying to keep your speed consistent.
6. Head straight to hell
It doesn’t even need to freeze over. “Do 500m, then rest for the same time you skied for,” says Kowalenko. “Repeat with 400m, 300, 200 and finally 100, keeping the 1:1 work/rest ratio going.” Spoilers: it doesn’t get easier.
Why? “Partial recovery after an all-out effort gives you a crushing cardio power endurance workout if you truly go as fast as you can each interval,” says Kowalenko. Plus, because you have less distance, you can keep up the intensity. Maybe.