From technical tips to master to beginner mistakes to avoid, this is the definitive guide on how to use a SkiErg.

The SkiErg is up there with the best home gym equipment, providing total-body movement that, when performed correctly, will hit your lats, triceps, shoulders, core and entire lower body. But while the technique might look simple –  you just grab the handles and pull, right? – to be efficient with every pull, and cover maximum distance for the effort you put in, there are some SkiErg technique tips you should know.

Common SkiErg mistakes

Whether you own your own Concept2 SkiErg or use one at your local gym, there are common mistakes you should look to avoid. Typically, beginners will fail to generate enough power through each pull, because they don’t extend through the full range of motion. Your whole body should be involved in the movement – think ‘hips, shoulders, arms’ on the way up, and focus on powering down through your lower body on the downward stroke.

Another rookie error is to drop knees inwards during the quarter squat on the down-pull. Just as that’s a big no-no when you’re squatting – not just because it will inhibit the force you can generate, but it also places potentially injury-causing stress on the knee joints – you should make a conscious effort to keep knees in line with toes and hips as you pull the cables down.

Speaking of the pull, you need to apply the same principles as you would to the rowing machine. Chiefly, that means avoiding over-reliance on the arms. (It’s not the best piece of kit to perform a 30-minute upper-body workout.) If you don’t believe us, spend one minute pulling as hard as you can on the SkiErg, using just your arms – guaranteed your triceps will start to feel it. If you want to use the SkiErg for any kind of endurance work, you’re going to need to hone a more efficient technique that doesn’t turn your arms to jelly.

Effective SkiErg technique

  • Set up towards the rear third of the platform, with feet roughly hip-width apart.
  • With arms extended, grab hold of both handles above your head.
  • Initiate the movement with your upper body – particularly your lats – by pulling down.
  • Next, hinge from the hips with a neutral spine (avoid rounding your back) to drop into a quarter squat.
  • As the handles reach your hips, complete the pull by extending arms alongside your thighs.
  • To initiate the new pull, reverse the movement by standing, extending your arms and returning the cables overhead.
  • As the cables are returned above your head, you might want to allow the momentum to bring you up onto your toes, to allow for a more forceful down stroke, but that’s personal preference.

At all times, think about hitting that full range of motion with every rep. If your find your arms getting fatigued, you’re not using your lower body enough, so make an effort to drive down through your glutes and hamstrings – this should relieve tiring arms.

Finally, remember to breathe! A simple cue is to exhale as you pull down, and inhale on the release. Effective technique isn’t much use if you’re immediately gasping for air.

Focus on form, focus on your breath, and you’ll be good to go.