The SkiErg Cardio Machine Works Your Entire Body

Don't miss out on this versatile calorie crusher.

Whether you want to jump on ski season or tone up all over, the SkiErg (like an upright rower) is an excellent addition to any exercise routine

Simple in structure, the machine's movements are similar to using ski poles along the slopes to gain momentum. The result: Improved power, strength, and endurance.

Unfortunately, many folks are missing out on the versatile calorie crusher because they aren't familiar with it. However, the SkiErg has been hanging around gym floors since 2009. 

But it doesn't have to be that way. With these tips from Rustin Steward, a Tier 3+ Trainer at Equinox Sports in New York, you can master the SkiErg—and build a toned body.

What Are the Benefits of the SkiErg?

According to the manufacturer, the SkiErg is a training tool for cross-country skiers. Still, the fitness community has embraced the machine for its ability to work the legs, core, and arms in a smooth, continuous motion.

"What makes the SkiErg such a great piece of equipment is that it utilizes the full body, the glutes, hamstrings, lats, triceps, and shoulders," explained Steward. "A lot of the cardio machines, such as the treadmill or elliptical, don't. They are more lower body specific." 

Not to mention the SkiErg—which can be quite aerobically demanding—is powered by you. 

"The faster you get the flywheel spinning, the more resistance you create, which, in turn, leads to a bigger calorie burn," said Steward.

Best of all, you don't have to be a skier to reap the benefits of the SkiErg's total body exercise. Even for someone who has never put on skis, the SkiErg offers a quality workout to build strength and endurance.

Another great thing: It can be used in various ways, from warming up to all-out cardio. Specifically, Steward said it's a great way to fire up the lats before back exercises.

With each pull, you can add jumps at the top or lateral hops to help build explosiveness. And it's also a functional movement, mimicking the everyday action of bending down and picking things up.

How To Use the SkiErg


Stand tall, facing the SkiErg with feet hip-width apart, arms extended up. With your hands gripping the handles, face your palms inward (A).

Then, hinging at the hips, with a slight knee bend, brace the core, push through the glutes, and pull handles down. And remember: Keep your arms straight (B). 

Continue pulling the handles down in a fluid motion until your arms swing back past your thighs (C). As you rise back to standing, activate your glutes, push your hips forward to full extension, and return your arms up to start.

Avoid These Commons Mistakes

Using the SkiErg may take some practice. Here are some of the most common mistakes made while using the machine, according to Steward: 

  1. Squatting: "Remember it's a hip hinge, like a deadlift movement, not a squat," said Steward.
  2. Dropping the chest: Yes, you want your torso on a slight angle, but you don't want to be fully horizontal and parallel to the floor. "Not only can it cause harm to your lower back, but it takes the glutes out of the exercise," explained Steward. And that means you aren't correctly working your glutes.
  3. Cutting the stroke short: "The longer the stroke, the faster the meter's indicator will climb. So, don't shortchange yourself at the top," noted Steward.
  4. Looking up: "That puts a lot of strain on the neck," added Steward. Your goal: Keep your chin tucked.

Try This Beginner Workout

Go for 10 sets of 100-meter sprints with 45 seconds of rest in between each. 

"Ideally, you'll want to complete these sprints in under 35 seconds," said Steward, adding that your goal should be to work your way below 25 seconds. 

To make your workout more challenging, play with the machine's damper, increase distance, or add time. Damper refers to how much air flows through the flywheel.

A Quick Review

The SkiErg is an exercise machine that resembles an upright rower and is an excellent addition to any workout routine. 

And now that you know the basics, it's time to put what Steward described as one of the most effective tools in the gym (especially if you're short on time) to work. The best part? No snow is required.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles