One cross training device to rule them all - skierg vs rower?

Hi all - quick question. I’ve got a nice kettlebell regimen going on the side but have wondered about the utility of another cardio 1-2x/week to supplement my cycling. Main thing is I’m trying to make sure I’ve got a solid upper body/core so I’m not transferring too much weight onto the handlebars.

If you guys had to choose between these two which would you go with? I know people love rowers but I’m worried about frying my legs if my goal is to make sure I’m fresh for cycling. Running is just too harsh on my knees.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Rowing is deffo better choice. It doesn’t take anything away from cycling performance, but is really good full body conditioning tool.


I’d go with whichever one I enjoyed more because I think both would give you good cross training benefit. Have you tried both out?


I have tried both for some time (1yr RowErg, 3m SkiErg). I personally prefer SkiErg for cross training because it is more upper body oriented, legs get majority of load from bike anyway. As for core strengthening workout, I am not really sure which helps better for bike. RowErg works more lower back, SkiErg front side. Still doing aerobic endurance stuff only, to let tendons and ligaments slowly get stronger before starting to push harder. But in long term I hope to use SkiErg for some VO2max workouts during cycling base periods.

For comparison, here are pictures on Concept2 home page, showing different muscles used:

From practical perspective, SkiErg takes less floor room. I can’t fit rower and bike trainer to allocated space :slight_smile:


Haven’t gotten to try a skierg but spent a decent amount of time on a rower. Was definitely nice to polish off a day of cycling with a few minutes on it but I did find myself trying to rely a little more on upper body to distribute the work load

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My bad; thought I was posting in this thread and was over in the pain cave thread instead. Post relevant to this conversation…

And @svens, thanks for the muscle group illustrations from the Concept 2 site.


hey that post was really helpful. one of the other factors that I didn’t consider too much is the space factor. so much so that I have to make sure my workout room can accommodate the skierg height. but I’m also trying to cram my home office, home gym, and bike garage into a single extra bedroom in the house.

…the desk already got the boot. I guess that’s what my kickr desk is for

leaning toward skierg right now!

Another option to consider is an airdyne or aid assault bike. These give an upper body and core workout also.

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One of the main ‘core’ workouts that has done it for me is cable rows in the gym, or renegade rows at home. Just found this video:

and going to give the more advanced version a try, and progress to the renegade row at the end of the video (my kettlebells are heavier than my home dumbbells).

Palloff presses and several other key exercises also help. All of those take up far less space than either the Concept 2 rower or skierg (keep expecting it to look like the NordicTrack I owned 20 years ago).

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I want a Concept2 rower so bad… but I can’t really justify the cost at the moment.

A swim erg or ski erg makes absolutely no sense to me unless you’re trying to ski or swim faster.
A row erg, though, is an excellent full body workout. Hence why every decent gym has one.

Make sure to get a seat pad, as your butt will be very sore after 10-20 minutes.

You can always storage a Concept2 like this:

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This is something I was thinking about while using my KBs today. I was doing 2H swings in sets of 20 and spiking my HR up to 185. I was consistently 150-180 for the 30 minutes to complete a simple and sinister workout. That’s a pretty solid cardio workout with lots of core involvement.

Also threw in some ab wheel and pull-ups. Really solid supplement to the riding.


I’m doing anti-glycolytic swings, at the start of every minute do 10 swings and then rest. Its about 1:5 work:rest ratio. Really keeps it at low aerobic.

I’m really enjoying my Concept 2.

I’m only speculating but the SkiErg looks boring.

I had a nordictrack skiier (the original kind) and it mostly sat unused over the years.

I had a Concept 2 for quite awhile and enjoy rowing, I only sold it because I was moving and wanted to cut down on “stuff”.

They’ve got the rower and the SkiErg at the gym I’m using now, hadn’t tried the SkiErg before but I found it pretty boring. They’ve got a bit of everything there from the Jacob’s Ladder machines to all the usual suspects and I can honestly say I cannot see myself ever choosing to the use the SkiErg.

I’ll edit to add, I think there’s only one of the SkiErg’s at that gym, like all gym’s it is packed with people right now. There isn’t exactly a line to get on the thing. it’s in a high traffic area but I’ve yet to see anyone on it for more than a few seconds and it is usually unoccupied.

The responses to this thread have been really helpful. There’s clearly compelling arguments to go with either machine whether it be the overall quality of the workout, muscles worked, boredom factor, and space factor.

But I also realized that I am getting a really solid full-body workout from kettlebells, pull up bar, and ab wheel right now that I can easily adjust depending on my cardio needs. An extra 20-30 minutes on either the rower or skierg is just going to rush my kettlebell work and/or take away time in the saddle.

I think the move on my end for now is to continue progressing my KB work and see where it takes me.

@Typherus , sounds well thought out and pragmatic. Congrats on your decision.

And I’m a big fan of kettlebells. :+1:


I’m considering trying to transition traditional free weights over to fully kettlebell - any suggestions for whole body KB workout plans that would be great for a cyclist? I’m mainly looking to cut back on gym equipment in my basement (although I’m looking to fill that space with a Concept 2).

One key is the kettlebell swing, check out Menachem Brodie/Human Vortex cycling

Not cycling specific, but Dan John is one of my go-to guys for whole body good stuff. His YouTube channel and podcast has great content; you do have to do some searching.

My other KB go-to guy is Mark Wildman. Both are excellent technical instructors as well as knowing strength training inside out.

So if I haven’t already given you enough to confuse you, here is more from B3 Strength that were designed for use with their BFR bands, but are good overall routings sans BFR.

Oh, without saying the minimalist approach is Pavel Tsatsouline’s Simple and Sinister. Two exercises: swings and Turkish Get Ups.

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Thanks, I’ll check all those out.

Nothing too specific but rationalizes why to row or ski beside cycling