Embrace the ERG!

Looking for a new machine to add variety to your workout routine? The ERG machine is a great option as it’s simple to use, works a variety of muscle groups, and can be used for several different types of training workouts. Below is some basic information about ERG’s, tips to ensure proper form, and a few sample workouts you can perform to experience all an ERG has to offer you!

What is an ERG Machine? 

An ERG (commonly known as a rower) stands for ergometer, a device that measures the amount of work performed. It’s designed to mimic the rowing motion that a person creates when in a watercraft but operates on land.

How do I use it? 

The overall use and functionally of an erg machine is simple and easy to use which makes it a great option for almost anyone. However, there are few common mistakes people make when operating this piece of equipment. To help demonstrate these common mistakes and even clean up my own rowing form, I teamed up with one of our own rowing enthusiasts, Josiah Stucki, Fitness Trainer at MVP Metro Club to give me some pointers. Take a look!


Adjust foot holder so the strap crosses right before your toes. This is generally where your shoelaces end. Be sure the strap is tight around your foot!


Don't Foot Placement


Do Foot Placement


This is the starting phase of the rowing motion. You should be in a squatting position with arms fully extended, head in neutral position, and core tight so you have a strong straight back.


Don't Start


Do Start


Remember  legs, back, arms. This should be the sequence of how your body should move when pulling. Focus on pushing through your legs and keep your core tight to maintain an upright position.


Don't Form


Do Form


After completing the stroke sequence, you should be sitting with your legs fully extended, elbows next to your rib cage, shoulder down (not hiked up) and hands drawn horizontally by your lower ribs.


Don't Finish Don't Finish 2



Do Finish

Now that you have the proper form down, here some basic metrics to be aware of when using an ERG. These all provide great feedback and can help you better monitor and push you during your workouts.

Rate: Strokes Per Minute (Displayed as SPM). This is essentially the rate at which you are rowing and typically people are too short and choppy with their strokes which causes them to have to high of a SPM. Generally, you should focus on long powerful pulls which should keep you between 25-35 SPM

Watts: The amount of power per stroke. The harder you pull the higher the watts output!

Meters: This is meant to replicate the distance a crew boat would be moving. It’s determined by your watts and stroke length.

What types of workouts can I perform on the ERG? 

You might be thinking that an ERG sounds boring since you are repeating the same basic movement over and over, however there’s actually a wide variety of workouts you can do on an ERG. Below are some sample workouts you can perform for different training goals. Give them a try!

Warm Up Workout

  • Sets: 1
  • Distance: 1000-1500 meters
  • Rate: 25-30 spm

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Workout  

  • Sets: 10-15
  • Time: 30 sec work/30 seconds rest, repeat (See how high you can get your watts!)
  • Rate: Work = 25-35 spm, Rest = 5-15 spm

Power 20 Workout

  • Take 20 strokes as powerful as you can then 10 strokes very light (this is equals 1 rep). Complete 8 reps.
  • Sets: 2 (Take break between sets)
  • Rate: 25-35 spm for work and rest

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