5 ways to get through an erg session without wanting to kill yourself!

If you’ve ever been on an erg/rowing machine you know that it’s a motherfupper of a thing! A tool of pure torture, discomfort and also sheer boredom. If you’re a rower you’ll have spent the winter months having arguments with yourself about whether to actual sit on one or not and then cursing yourself when you do and cursing yourself when you don’t. Some people think it’s great for a total body workout and a great way to measure progress. I, myself hate the bastarding thing and have had to find ways to make myself actually stay on one and put the work in and you know, not hate life. I thought I’d share my tips to my fellow erg goers and maybe you have some tips of your own 🙂


1. Don’t go on the erg: Do anything else! Get in a actual boat and go for a row, or go for a long run, a billion squats, forty laps of the pool. Any other kind of exercise that will get your heart rate up but you will actually enjoy! Sport is meant to be fun after all. Do whatever you can to avoid sitting down on that machine.


2. Don’t look at the screen: Ok so you failed at tip number 1 or your coach told you to stop being such a whinge bag. Either way you’re now on the machine. I find for long sessions it is always better to push the screen the other way. Get it out of your vision, out of your line of sight. When I stare at the screen my score gets worse and worse and the times goes sloooooowly by. When I can’t see what I’m doing my score actually improves and I also don’t have the feeling of being controlled by a machine. You still put in the effort but there is no measurement til the end. No judgement but your scores stays the same. Win, win!


3. Count the strokes: If I am doing shorter pieces I like to keep my head up and count my strokes. If I’m doing a 5 minute piece at rate 26/28 I like to count back from 135/140. It is surprisingly relaxing, a great way to keep controlled and you KNOW that when you get to zero it’ll all be over.


4. Erg with someone else: Are you usually rowing alone, doesn’t that make you want to cry? Try doing pieces with a buddy to help you get through them and even push yourself. And on the long, slow slogs you’ll have someone to have the chats with. Just think of it like a very uncomfortable stroll in the park with your bestie. Now if you natter on during the whole piece then your score won’t be great but if you have small convos and take breaks from talking, your score will be good and so will your morale!


5. Have some kick ass music: Stuff that really gets you going. You know that music that makes you imagine the best version of yourself that’s winning gold at every race, beating every score, triumphing over every obstacle and is on the cover of vogue and has her own line of leggings that make your ass look great! That kind of music that is going make you say let’s do this! Make it loud, make it pumpin’, make it so that the neighbours/fellow rowers/gym goers look at you with both annoyance and envy!


It is possible to sit on the rowing machine and live to tell the tale, it is possible to do it more than once a month without dreading it. These tips are only to help you mentally overcome it because you are physically a badass and it is only your fear stopping you from making that erg your bitch!


So make that erg your bitch because those people are right, it is great for total body workout, that’s why it sucks.


BONUS TIP: Take erging selfies and put them up on Instagram, people are uber supportive in the fitness world and will egg you on to do better!


Progress is progress…

When I started back at rowing last year after a good six (seven?) years out of the sport I took to it quite quickly and I was far more used to the dreaded rowing machines than the others. My fitness wasn’t fully there but it was slowly creeping up. Me erg (rowing machine) scores improved quite quickly as I got into the swing of things. Soon, I was ranking second on our erg scoreboard which is no mean feat for the shortest lady in the crew.

But then my scores started to slow down. I was still beating my previous scores but each week the margin became less and less. Some weeks I’d do worse! (Heaven forbid!) I grew frustrated in my progress. My boyfriend had to sit me down and explain that once you get to a certain point in your fitness, progress will slow down but it will always be there. Even if it isn’t so obvious. And some weeks it will be very hard and seem much harder for me than the other women who are brand new to the sport. I kept this in mind and focused on my scores and my scores alone. Watching my progress, so feint that only I could truly see it. There, of course, were setbacks but I kept on top of my training as much as I could and by the end I think my progress was visible to all.

I’ve aired out the old lungs and I’m ready to kick ass!

Fast forward a year and we’ve started all over again! Back to the training grindstone after a blissful (and lazy) six weeks off. And that of course means that we’re back on the ergs, back on the water and back to tracking our progress. I figured (for some reason) that I would repeat how last years training went. Start slow and watch my scores go down… First week, benchmark. The scores were alright but not great. Seocond week, gonna knock last week out of the park. I’ve aired out the old lungs and I’m ready to kick ass! Eh, not so much. I knocked 0.1 second off my score… 0.1! What the arse wiping nonsense is that!? I thought surely after my rest I’d be able to make more of a dent in my score than that.

After some tough words in my head and beating myself up over what little progress I had made and wondering whether I should have trained more during the off season, the boyfriend had to sit me down (again!) to tell me that it was still progress and that my weeks spent resting were important. He made me realise that my rest will stand to me when the work gets tougher. That every 0.1 counts. That progress is still progress.

And he’s right. I know it seems so obvious but when you are buried so deep in a goal and you see how far you have to go to achieve it, well it can be daunting and frustrating. It is easy to forget that progress (no matter how little) is getting you towards your goal and if you are at the stage where progress comes inch by inch or 0.1 by 0.1 then you have already come so far.

Oh and find someone who can spell it out for you when you need them…



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