Most nonrowers think the erg is all about the upper body. This is not true. Rowing is a much more complex movement. The erg actually provides a full-body workout that involves the legs much more than people realize. The core as well. It requires a smooth transfer from the lower body, through the core, and then to the upper body.
Proper form is crucial as bad technique can injure the lower back. The standard measurement on the erg is known as the split, the amount of time required to travel five hundred meters at the current pace.
It’s the old wooden cross-country skiing machine. Yes, they can still be found in some gyms, including mine. There is always one, sometimes two, members who are fanatical about their NordicTrack. It’s all they use, and if you get rid of it, they will quit the gym.
It takes a bit of coordination, however, to get the legs working in synchronization with your arms. You slide wooden skis from front to back while pulling on cables that are your “poles.” It’s actually a great workout if you can do it. It’s easy on the joints, yet you can really get your heart rate up if your push the intensity. Cross-country skiing is one of the highest-calorie-burning activities there is. If your gym has one, try it out. You just may have to fight the die-hard guy who thinks it’s his and only his.
Wear a weight vest while using it
Most often found in rehabilitation facilities, upper-body ergometers are finding their way into more and more gyms as weekend warriors continue to injure themselves in greater numbers and the older population is using gyms more as well. These are cardio machines that involve only your arms. They are therefore great for people who are rehabbing a lower-body injury or those too frail to work out on traditional cardio machines.
You sit on them and spin cranks with your arms, essentially “pedaling” with your upper body. There is no lower-body involvement at all. It is one of the few machines on which you can increase your heart rate and burn calories without using your legs. If you ever have a knee or hip injury and need to get your cardio in, the upper-body ergometer will be your best friend.
Don’t hog the equipment
Some gyms have specific rules posted, such as a 30-Minute Limit, especially during peak usage hours. You need to follow the rules. At extremely crowded gyms there may even be sign-up sheets for the cardio equipment. If your gym does not have specific rules posted, you should still be considerate and adhere to a thirty-minute rule if people are waiting.
One Pound Equals 3,500 Calories.
It’s pretty simple: if your goal is to lose weight, then the more weight you want to lose, the more cardio you need to do. Remember that it all comes down to simple math. If you take one thing away from this book, it will be that a pound equals 3,500 calories. It never ceases to amaze me how few people know this fact. Whenever I am addressing a large group of people, as during a lecture or when I am leading my annual Nantucket Beach Fitness Camp, I always pose this question. Rarely do more than five out of a hundred people get it right.