Tips for Mastering the Skierg

First it was the Assault Bike, now it’s the Skierg. CrossFit has this incredible ability to find movements and machines that will leave you contemplating your sanity. Exhibit A: the Skierg. This machine was originally developed as a supplementary tool for athletes in the sport of Nordic skiing. In keeping with Greg Glassman’s description of fitness where he states, “…Regularly learn and play new sports”, CrossFit has integrated this machine into many of its daily workouts. Now that these machines are becoming more and more popular, it’s time for you to become a Skierg pro. Below are several tips to help you master the three basic positions your body goes through when completing the skiing movement:

Triple Extension

This is your starting position and occurs when your arms are fully extended overhead with hands grasping the handles, your hips are completely open and your legs are fully straightened. Oftentimes, depending on your height, you will also be standing on your tiptoes in order to be as long as possible and grasp the handles at the highest point on the erg.

The Pull 

Oftentimes athletes are under the impression that skiing is an upper body movement only. This is definitely not the case. When using the Skierg correctly, it should actually feel like a full body movement, engaging the upper body, core, and lower body all at the same time. In order to perform the pull correctly, follow these steps:

  1. When initiating the pull, you will start at triple extension and then slightly pull the cables so that your arms are now bent and each form a right angle. 
  2. From here, you will continue to pull down with your arms (keeping them bent in a right angle), while simultaneously engaging your core (which sends energy from the hips to the arms) and hinging at the hips (send your butt backwards as if you are trying to shut your car door when your hands are full of groceries). This should be one fluid movement and not a disjointed activity (hips flex and then arms pull). 
  3. Once the hips are closed and your chest is facing down toward the Skierg platform, you will then finish the pull by lengthening your arms at your sides.

The Recovery 

The last piece of the Skierg puzzle is called the recovery, or basically, how you return to the starting position. The recovery phase can be divided into two categories: the arms and the hips. 

  1. The arms: once you have extended your arms at your sides to finish your pull, you will then reach your arms straight back up to the top of the Skierg to begin the next pull, or you can make a circular motion with your arms to get the handles back to the top of the erg (almost like the butterfly stroke in swimming). There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to recover with the arms. Play around with both techniques and decide which works best for you. 
  2. The hips: the recovery movement with the hips is similar to that of a kettlebell swing. Just like in a kettlebell swing where you generate your power and energy through opening the hips, the same is true when skiing. To finish the movement and return to the starting position, you simply open your hips so that they are fully extended.