When it comes to getting your cardio in, the days of treadmills and StairMasters are gone. After all, you do CrossFit now, and that means, running, rowing, “Airdyning,” double-unders and skiing, right? Wait a second. Skiing? Yes, skiing. Nordic skiing to be exact. Meet the Concept2 SkiErg, an exercise machine that simu­lates the double-pole motion of Nordic Skiing. The founders of Concept2, Dick and Pete Dreissigacker, are avid rowers and Nordic skiers who adapted their rower for skiing.

But, if you are not a Nordic skier, would you use this tool? Many CrossFitters already use it for cross training.

Tommy Hackenbruck, CrossFit coach, Games competitor and 2009 “Second Fittest Man in the World,” is a big proponent of the SkiErg. In fact, he’s been using it since 2009.

“When SkiErgs first came out in 2009, I was able to get one as a prize for finishing second at the Games. It was such a good tool and so effective that I’ve added more over the years so I now have seven at my gym, UTE CrossFit,” Hackenbruck says.

Concept2-skierg2Much like the rower or Airdyne, the SkiErg can be incorporated into a brutal variation of cardio. “It’s almost identical to the rower as far as the efficacy and durability; that’s why I love it. The Airdyne is a terribly made tool and constantly breaks. I think the stimulus achieved on the SkiErg is similar to the Airdyne though; if you go really hard on them, they are more exhausting than the rower,” Hackenbruck says.

Between 500 and 1,000 meters is typically the distance an athlete can handle at one time on the SkiErg without losing speed and stamina.  Hacken­bruck also likes to incorporate “sprints,” such as interval work of five rounds of 250 meters skiing with one minute rest in between, or couplets/triplets such as 21-15-9 calories on a SkiErg and burpees.

Hackenbruck says the Concept2 SkiErg is not only a great way to vary the standard rower, but it is also ideal for athletes with injuries or special needs.

“Compared to the rower and Airdyne, the SkiErg is the best piece of equipment for any athletes dealing with knee or ankle injuries because you can perform well on it with almost no impact on the lower body. You can also use it for adap­tive athletes that may need to train from a sitting position,” he says.

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