The SkiErg is a pretty simple device—two handles that connect to two cords that accelerate a flywheel for resistance. The cords are free to be pulled in any number of directions. So, is there a proper SkiErg technique, and if so, why?
The SkiErg grew out of our experience with the sport of cross-country skiing—just as the indoor rower grew out of our years of rowing on the water. Given this, the SkiErg technique that we teach is based on the sport that inspired the machine. Nordic skiing is an old sport, initially used as a means of winter transportation in northern climes, and now a common form of winter recreation and a highly competitive Olympic event. Its techniques and equipment have evolved to maximize speed and endurance in a variety of race formats, from sprints to marathons.
Given this history, the method that we teach is based on the traditional and time-tested technique used by today’s fastest Nordic skiers.
As you grasp the handles of the SkiErg, imagine that you are grasping the handles of actual ski poles, with the “poles” extending down to the ground from your hands. At the beginning of the drive, you are planting your poles into the snow at a slight backward angle. Your arms are partially bent to keep the work closer to the large muscles of your core. Your pole handles should start slightly above your eyes. Drive the poles into the snow and backward as you engage your core in a crunch forward, bending your knees to a comfortable extent as you use your body weight to accelerate the handles to your hips. No need to push beyond the hips, just bring the poles back up to the top as you stand up and straighten to prepare for the next drive. That’s it!
OK, fine, you might say, but will this technique give me the best score? For the most part, yes, but it certainly depends on such factors as the duration of your event, your physical characteristics and level of conditioning. For example, some users prefer a deeper squat on every pull. Remember that what goes down must come up (in this case!), so this means lifting your body weight from the squat on every stroke which will use a lot of energy. This may be efficient for some people but probably not for everyone. There is also the “butterfly” technique, where the arms swing out to the side and around as they come back up to the start position. This wider path is unnecessary, and lengthens the time for the handles to get back to the catch for the next drive. So, while some may find it effective for the short term, it’s likely not for everyone or ideal for longer races.
Luckily, the SkiErg is an ergometer so it can help you answer the technique question for yourself. Do a series of test pieces over the same distance or time that you plan to race. Test each of the technique variations you are considering and compare the results. You’ll quickly determine what works best for you.
Check out our technique video and review past blog posts on the topic:
You may also want to consider participating in the annual SkiErg Performance Series as good race preparation.