Most cardiovascular training is lower-body based. Treadmills, indoor cycling, cross trainers, stair climbers and rowers are amongst the popular ‘go to’ cardio machines in any mainstream gym but there’s very little reason other than, they are the ‘industry standard’ items.
It is hard to find a cardiovascular workout that primarily engages upper-body musculature.
Swimming is a good upper-body workout, but sometimes the pool can be inconvenient, and like anything else within your training system or lifestyle, it’s only effective if you’re executing the plan and technique effectively. As with any other exercise out there as we know, poor technique is inefficient, and liable to lead to injury at some point when done incorrectly for prolonged periods of time.
My gripe with cardio machines is that aside running, it generally involves sitting down, which isn’t as effective at burning calories as a weight bearing or load bearing exercise. This is, actually the reason why we equipped our studio with Ski Ergs as opposed to any of the other ‘stand out’ cardio machines available. The Ski Erg is a relatively new piece of equipment that stresses your upper body musculature and delivers a cardiovascular benefit simultaneously. It mimics the motion of nordic or alpine skiing, but you don’t have to be a skier to train on it. Many athletes from different backgrounds use this equipment to cross train for different sports. Bradley Wiggins integrated the use of a Ski Erg into his program throughout his training for the World Indoor Rowing Championships. Why would a world champion cyclist use a skiing machine to improve his rowing?
This particular action requires the use of the core, and the major muscles of the chest, shoulders, back and arms to execute each movement. This requires lots of oxygen which in short means, your heart rate will quickly increase and your body will burn more calories due to the simultaneous muscle engagement and the use of your cardiovascular system.
The Ski Erg technology is brutally simple. It is basically a fan with a cover, the wider you open the cover, the more air gets into the fan and the more difficult it feels at the same stroke rate or intensity. If you open it right up and move at maximal pace the intensity will be high. The harder you pull, the greater the intensity.
The Ski Erg literally is for everyone, it is wheelchair accessible for people with leg injuries or adaptive athletes, and the exercises can be just as hard sitting down if required (and it has happened at Body Planners).
If you’re looking for the next best thing that everyone is looking to latch on to, start here and challenge the mental and physical boundaries of your body.