Cycle, Row, And Ski Your Way Through Ironman Competition Training

On November 25th 2012 I will be participating in my 3rd Full Distance Ironman in Cozumel, Mexico. After a brief rest from completing two international Ironman competitions in 2008 Nice, France and 2009 Florianopolis, Brazil I wanted something to train for again in order to keep driving myself into competition.

For the past few years I have been doing shorter distance indoor races on the Concept 2 rowing machine as well as the Concept 2 Ski Erg. With these three amazing cardiovascular, strength, and muscle-endurance machines you will be able to be more efficient with the exercises and use many different types of workouts while utilizing the whole body and core muscles.



Nordic skiing is an exhilarating and aerobically demanding sport, so it’s no surprise that Nordic skiers are extremely fit athletes. The SkiErg makes this terrific aerobic exercise accessible to anyone. Each pull engages the arms, shoulders, core and legs in a downwards “crunch,” using body weight to help accelerate the handles.

Check your technique and you’ll see the legs raising the body weight on each stroke, providing an exhausting full-body workout at high intensities.  A workout on the Ski-Erg works the legs at least as hard as the upper body. Maximum heart rates are achieved through aerobically demanding workouts.

The Concept2 flywheel puts YOU in control of the intensity of your workout. The faster the wheel spins the more resistance you will feel, regardless of the damper setting you choose. (Recommended Damper Setting Is From 4-6) This is because the fan blades on the flywheel create wind resistance, which increases as the speed of the wheel increases. The damper setting is much like the gears on a bicycle. It allows you to choose the gearing or leverage on the wheel which is most comfortable for you, or best simulates the skiing arm speed desired.

Watch the display of the Performance Monitor. It shows your power output, which is how fast you are going. As your intensity increases, your pace, caloric burn rate, and watt output will all increase. Begin with your hands shoulder-width apart and slightly above your head.



Your arms should be slightly bent and hands at eyebrow height. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and about 1-3 feet away from the front of the machine .


Drive the handles downward by engaging your core abdominal muscles and bending your knees. Maintain the bend in your arms to keep the handles fairly close to your face.

  • Works the upper body (involved throughout the pull)
  • Works the lower body (the legs complete each pull)
Finish the drive with knees slightly bent, and arms extended down alongside your thighs. Bring your arms back up and straighten your body to return to the start position.
  1. Legs Shoulder-Width Apart
  2. One Leg In Front Of The Other, Then Switching After A Few Minutes
  3. Jumping To Create Maximum Momentum, Speed, And Strength



  1. Muscle Endurance
  • Pyramid Intervals: Ski a “pyramid” of 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 minute pieces with equal rest time. Maintain good intensity on all these pieces, but especially as you come back down the pyramid.

2. General Endurance

  • Ski at a steady, moderate pace with a “Power Ten” every 500 meters (Power Ten = ten pulls at higher intensity) for 30- 60 minutes.

3. Short-Rest Anaerobic Intervals

  • Ski for 1 minute moderately hard, followed by 20 seconds easy ski. Make the transitions smooth. Follow this alternating intensity pattern for 20 minutes. Take a break for five minutes at a moderate pace then return to the alternating pattern for another 10-20 minutes.

All of these Ski Erg Workouts are perfect for overall core muscle training and legs for the bike and run segments of an Ironman distance triathlon. This exercise is perfect for those looking for a low-impact (easy on the knees and ankles) high intensity anaerobic or muscle endurance workout. It is a high calorie burning exercise because it uses so many muscle groups throughout the body. The Ski Erg works the core as the abs and back are integral to the skiing motion.


Anyone can race a 500 meter piece but not everyone can go longer than that at a very intense, fast pace. Measure your overall fitness by racing a 1,000 meter piece. After you’ve skied, enter your time in the Online Ranking at and see where you stand with others of your age, gender, and weight class. With this in mind, take my workouts and put them to use on the ski erg and try to beat my best time last year in the World Ski Erg Sprints Challenge Online: 3 minutes and 10 seconds! Good luck and good racing.



Due to the muscles used in rowing the machines allow runners to do a non-impact form of endurance training. I did only a few ‘brick’ (cycling/ running) workouts and almost no swimming practice. The latissimus muscles engaged from rowing allowed me to swim without feeling exhausted.

Cross-training on the rowing machine during the year and during recovery blocks throughout the season helps swimmers, cyclists, and runners stay injury free and mentally fresh. Those are the key benefits of rowing for triathletes while also trying to swim, bike, and run extreme long distances during an Ironman.

There are four crucial parts to the rowing stroke. The catch, drive, finish, and recovery!


From “The catch” or start position into the early drive. Keep your shins vertical and the muscles tight, pulling your belly button up and in, and make a point to retain good posture. Slant the upper body forward, extending powerfully from the hips. Avoid sitting straight up and keeping your shoulders and back too straight. Roll your shoulders and upper-back slightly forward at the front of the rowing stroke.

Most of the muscles in the legs and back are used! The erector spinae muscles of the back are relaxed to allow for trunk flexion, which is provided by the abdominals. The psoas major and minor and the iliacus flex the pelvis and hips. The sartorius muscle rotates the thighs which allows the body to flex between the thighs to obtain maximum reach. The hamstrings and gastrocnemius are contracting while the knees are in flexion. The quadriceps are elongated and stretched, yet the rectus femoris is contributing to hip flexion. The ankles are dorsiflexed by the tibialis anterior. The elbows are extended by the triceps brachii.


Begin the “drive” phase by employing your leg muscles with a powerful push off and kicking the knees flat down as fast as possible and hanging with the latissimus and back while holding on to the handle. Push through with your legs almost as if you are trying to push your feet through the foot-boards into the ground. In a continuous motion, use your hips, back, and abdominals as a lever, transferring the workload to a combination of your legs and the muscles surrounding your core.

All the muscles of the shoulder are contracting. These include the supra and infraspinatus, subscapularis, teres major and minor, and the biceps brachii. The scapula is stabilized by the serratus anterior and trapezius muscles. In the upper body, elbow flexion is occurring via the biceps, brachialis, and the brachioradialis muscles are used.


Resist the temptation to begin pulling with your arms at the finish and grabbing the handle into the body until you’ve completely channeled the power from your legs, abdominal, and back muscles. With legs fully extended use your arms with the momentum of the stroke to pull and squeeze the finish the stroke brushing the handle into your body/mid-abdominals. Keep the shoulders as relaxed and loose as possible with the back in a slight arc as you pull the handle through the finish.

Pretend as if you’re trying to elbow someone behind you while using all the momentum through the drive at the finish of stroke. The knees and ankles remain constantly flexed as the hips complete a full extension and quadriceps are used. The back extensors are continually contracting, and the upper arms are integrally rotated by the contracting latissimus dorsi. The triceps are extending the elbows slightly.


Make sure to keep the handle moving freely at the finish and don’t stop or stick the handle into your body. Let the handlebar pull itself away from your body and swing the body over the knees before the knees come up. The anterior deltoids contract along with the coracobrachialis and biceps, and the upper arms raise slightly as they pass over the extended knees. The abdominals flex the torso, and once the hands have cleared the extended knees, the slide begins its forward motion through ankle dorsiflexion and hip and knee flexion.



5 x 500m on / 2 min off

Row as hard as you can at 28-32 strokes per minute and go for your best time for five 500 meter pieces. Rest for two minutes between each 500 meter piece. Great for anaerobic training and overall muscle strength.


3 x 10 minute on / 5 min easy

Row three 10 minute pieces at moderate to hard pressure in between 24-28 strokes per minute. Row for five minutes at light pressure between each piece. Perfect for aerobic training and muscle endurance.


4 x 20 minute / 8 min rest

Row 4 intervals of 20 minutes at steady state moderate pressure in between 20-26 strokes per minute.  In between these long intervals stretch and drink water while getting ready for the next interval. Best workout for Ironman distance triathlon training.


Anyone can race a 500 meter piece but not everyone can go longer than that at a very intense, fast pace. Measure your overall fitness by racing a 2,000 meter piece. After you’ve rowed, enter your time in the Online Ranking at and see where you stand with others of your age, gender, and weight class. Your preparation for the 2,000 meter race should fall predominantly into the aerobic area and should continue to be focused on distance, measured both in time and in meters. With this in mind, take my workouts and put them to use on the rowing machine and try to beat my best time on the U.S. National Rowing Team, a 5:57! Good luck and good racing.




Indoor cycling can manage to burn about 500 to 700 calories during the average 60-minute class and the distance covered is about 15 to 20 miles on average. Results may vary with calories burned from individuals due to different weight, gender, and intensity levels. The distance of the typical indoor cycling experience depends upon how fast you pedal along with moderate resistance.

The main difference between indoor cycle bikes and stationary bikes is that indoor cycle bikes operate on a flywheel mechanism that doesn’t allow you to coast. So as long as the wheels are moving, you must continue pedaling. Make sure to use the resistance at all times during your workouts whether at home and or cycling class.

The braking mechanism utilizes a leather brake pad or a special alignment of magnets on the flywheel in order to increase and/or decrease resistance. This is one of the reasons indoor cycling burns more calories than riding a bike outside. Another reason is because you’ll use a variety of speeds and resistance levels that may not be possible on the road to to traffic conditions and landscape.

Using the typical ‘1-10 rule of intensity’ (1 being no resistance on the bike to 10 being the most resistance added to the bike) the instructor can guide you to a long effective resistance training workout that is sure to make you sweat and burn off tons of calories. Due to the heavy amount of sweat in a closed room at home or at the gym make sure to drink lots and lots of water to avoid dehydration and loss of performance during the ride.


Cycling can change your body dramatically and give you that lean strong body you’ve been training for while training hard with cycling. Indoor cycling can develop long, lean, and defined bodies that have strong core muscles. The other great attributes of indoor cycling are primarily with the physical cardiovascular benefits with weight reduction, a drop in blood pressure, improvements in diabetes control, and improvements in overall strength.


Use These 15 Different Combinations Of Evo Cycling Moves And Workout Routines From Beginner To Advanced

Fast Jumps, Slow Jumps, Hovering, Sprints, Hill Sprints, Seated Climb, Hill Climb, One Leg Alternate Leg Push, 3 Step Cycling Jumps (Seated, Hover, Standing) Alternate, Control The Sway on Evo Bike (Swaying Less), Sway More On Evo, One Arm Balance Drill Above Handle Bar (Alternate), Head up while hovering, Very Hard (Most Resistance), And Very Easy ‘Freewheeling’ Sprints (Least Resistance But Make Sure To Control Your Legs And Keep Your Feet In The Pedals)

Try to incorporate this training and these different combinations of exercises during your ride on the Evo Bike from 60-120 minutes. This will help you promote strength and endurance while cycling and training for the Ironman Distance Triathlons

1) H.I.I.T. workout 30 seconds on 30 seconds off (5 – 10 intervals)

  • Fast And Slow In And Out Of The Seat (Jumps). Steady State Pace (Hard Enough To Not Be Able To Talk) While In The Seat. And Use Steady State Pace And Hard Resistance And Slow Out Of The Seat

2) Tabata  1min on 20 seconds off (5 – 10 intervals)

  •   2 Variations: Very Hard While In The Seat 1 Min Then Easy :20 Seconds And Very Hard While Out Of The Seat 1 Min then Easy :20 Seconds

3) Using The Beats Of The Music During the Ride

  • Free-Style Your Ride And Customize It Yourself While Listening And Staying On The Beats!  1 Rule: Stay On The Beat As If Your Hitting A Drum On The Bottom Part Of The Crank When Pedaling


Indoor cycling instructors never give up when it comes to talking about technique and posture. The right cycling posture is important to working the right muscle groups. In addition to the major leg muscles worked during a Spinning routine, the abdominal muscles get a workout. As you cycle, unlike racing a bike on the road, you get an upper body rhythm going that helps you keep your leg rhythm. The movement from a slightly bent position and side to side ‘swaying’ works both the central abdominal muscles and those along the side of your abdomens. You may not see immediate results of your abdominal work, but over time you will feel your entire body begin to tone up, including your abs. When using the EVO Indoor cyling bike the ‘swaying’ motion is a crucial proactive design that incorporates all of the major core muscle groups used throughout the body!


Use all 15 different types of workouts and exercises that I have listed in a 2 hour cycling workout and or class and see how far you can go. Track your distance and calories burned throughout the ride and keep track a the end so you can get faster and develop an efficient pedaling stroke. My personal best is 50 miles throughout a 2 hour ride!


Cycle 1 hour and jump on the rowing machine for 1 hour and then finally use the ski erg for 1 hour and track the total distance for all the machines. Roworx will be hosting an Ironman Triathlon Event With The Evo Indoor Cycling Bike, The Concept 2 Rowing Machine, And The Concept 2 Ski Erg To Find The Fittest Male And Female In Each Age Group This Fall On Sunday September 9th Before My 33rd Birthday And 3rd Ironman! Contact Jack Nunn For More Information About This Event And More Information On How To Order Our Amazing Nutrition Supplement: Juice Plus!

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Jack Nunn

Jack Nunn is the head trainer and owner of Roworx. Jack is a former national team rower who has competed in more than 100 triathlons, including 9 full Ironmans. He has created a system of rowing that prepares the whole body for both competition and fitness longevity.

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