Fitness Tips

Concept 2 Rower vs. Skierg – Which Rowing Machine is Best?

The first time I stepped into a CrossFit box, I ended up nearly collapsing with exhaustion.

No, it was not because of the WOD. I have managed both, the FRAN and the Filthy 50. But it was intervals on the Concept 2 Rower that left me half-dead, gasping for breath.

Rowers are designed in hell. Don't believe me? Hop on one, raise the intensity a notch and go full steam at them.

I believed that they were the death wish for anyone who's got inflated opinions about their own fitness levels. But, then I discovered the Skierg, another brutal workout machine from the same brand. 

After working out on the Skierg for a while, I was convinced that this is as good as the heaviest of duty hardcore rowers. workout Rower. Or is it better?

Turned out that a lot of others also have the same doubt. That's why I decided to create this blog post, to add my two cents to this, and clear some doubts, once and for all.


Quick Overview of the Concept 2 Rower & Skierg

In case you are unaware, both of these are pieces of cardio equipment from Concept 2. Well, calling them cardio machines is an understatement. Both rowing and skiing, are full body compound moves. So, I call them full body workout machines.

These machines will get your heart pumping out of your rib cage for sure. But that's not the only advantage. They will also recruit your glutes, quads, hamstrings, back shoulders, arms and hip flexor muscles.

One is a rowing machine while the other mimics the upper body movement of Skiing. 

Here's a closer look at each one.


Concept 2 Rower

Concept 2 rower is one of the affordable full-body cardio machine

The Concept 2 Rower is a full body cardio machine. It consists of a flywheel and a monorail, which guides the sliding seat backwards and forwards. It mimics the body movement and muscle recruitment of real rowing in a boat.

In fact, the rower is a polished and fine-tuned iteration of a rudimentary rowing machine that was created by former Olympians Dick and Pete Dreissigacker.

Since then, the Rower has become one of the most popular heavy duty rowing machines for burning calories, to get your heart rate up, and lose weight.

Specs

The Concept 2 boasts of a number of great specs that make it the ideal machine for your rowing needs
  • Length - 8 feet

  • Width - 2 feet

  • Monorail length - 4 1/2 feet

  • Max User weight - 227 kilograms

  • Frame - Aluminum and Steel

  • Monitor arm - Nylon (Adjustable)

  • Monitor - PM3

What I like about it

There are several outstanding features and perks that I love about the Concept 2 machine

There are a lot of things that make the Concept 2 rower such an effective choice for cardiovascular exercise, strength as well as overall fitness. 

Here's what I like the most about it.

Low impact but high intensity workouts

If you are looking for low impact workout with high intensity,
  • Allows you to rev up your heart rate even if you are struggling to walk after a heavy leg routine. That's because rowing uses concentric movements.

  • Involves multiple muscle groups of the upper and lower body

  • Hell of a core workout

  • Improves your spinal health and posture


Concept 2 Skierg

Concept 2 Skierg, on the other hand, provides a challanging upper body workout

The Concept 2 Skierg is also a full body exercise machine that consists of identical flywheel and an adjustable monorail, which guides the handles.

The Skierg imitates the upper body movement of skiing on snow with your arms, which makes it more upper body dominant, as opposed to the rower.

While there will be gluteal muscles and quadriceps recruitment, the primary muscle groups will be the shoulders, arms, back and abdominals. That's what makes the Skierg such a great complementary machine to the rower. In fact, my coach calls it 'The Vertical Rower'.

Specs

The Skierg packs a variety of cool specs that will take your workout to the next level
  • Height - 85 inches

  • Depth - 16 inches

  • Frame - Aluminum

  • Coating - Powder coating

  • Machine weight - 46 lbs.

  • Monitor - PM5

What I like about it

There are several bits I can't help but love about the Concept Skierg

As I said, Rowing, despite all the advantages is more ‘lower body’ focused. While it appears that your back and arms are doing all the work, you generate the power from the glutes.

In contrast, the Skierg requires brute strength in the upper body and helps you build it, if you do not have it already.

Here's what I like about it:

  • The term 'vertical rower' best describes what I like the most about the Skierg. It recruits all major muscles of the upper body and yet is low impact. As someone who's dealt with injuries, I know how important low impact exercises can be.

  • It increases upper body endurance. Ever get the feeling that you still have gas left in the tank (breath), but have to stop an exercise prematurely? That's lactic acid build up. Skierg prevents this by increasing your upper body endurance.

  • You recruit muscles that you never knew existed, in ways that are impossible with any other exercise or machine.


Concept 2: Rower vs Skierg, Which One to go for?

If you are after Concept 2 Rower and Skierg, then choosing one of them is based on your personal needs

If you are looking to pick one of these two for personal or home use, I'd say that you go with the rower.

Despite all the perks that the Skierg offers, rowing holds the edge. It's a much better workout with more muscle fiber recruitment, in both upper and lower body.

If you can, go for both. These are like two opposite ends of a spectrum and if I personally could, I'd buy both. But if it's a toss-up, the Rower is the winner.


Which One Is More Portable?

Both Concept 2 Rower and Skierg are same in portability as they both come with the same dimensions

Both, the concept 2 Rower and the Skierg have very similar dimensions. One is around 96" in length horizontally, while the other is 84" vertically.

If you are looking to park it in a basement gym with low ceiling, the rower is a better bet. But if you are looking to place this in a living room or a basement with tall ceilings, then either one works. 


Which One Is Better for Smaller Places?

You will be hardpressed to choose one machine and leave the other since both of them are pretty much the same size

Depends on whether it's horizontally small or vertically small. There's very little to choose between the two when it comes to dimensions and size.


Which One Is Quieter?

Both machines produce almost the same amount of noise, but Concept 2 Skierg is quieter than Rower

Both these machines have a similar flywheel and monorail based design. So the amount of noise that they produce is pretty close too. Based on my personal experience with the two, the Rower tends to produce more noise purely because people row more intensely than they ski.

This is just my personal opinion mind you. The seated position, the extension of the legs and arms, allow you to put more energy into rowing. On the Skierg, you are standing and bending down to pull the handle, which kind of limits the intensity, making it slightly quieter during operation.


Which Is More Durable?

Concept 2 Rower and Skierg are both durable and heavy-duty rowing machines

Both machines have frames made of aluminum, with stainless steel secondary parts and attachments. There's a powder coating which prevents scratches and rust.

So, it's pretty even-steven here.


Which One Is Easier to Assemble?

Rower is easy to assemble compared to tall Concept 2 Skierg

The Rower is easier to assemble. That's not because it as fewer moving parts, mind you. It's just because you can assemble the whole thing while seated. The Skierg on the other hand is about 7-foot tall and has attachments on the upper end.

Not a very comfortable assembly.


Which Is Better for Beginners & Seniors?

Beginners and seniors should go with low impact Concept 2 Rower

Rowing in general is considered one of the low impact exercises that's beginner senior friendly. While form is undoubtedly the key to rowing correctly, the learning curve is pretty low. 

You can pick up the basics fast and within no time, you should be rowing on higher intensities comfortably.

Skierg on the other hand involves a lot more posture and lower back. The chances of you pulling a back muscle or recruiting more shoulders than necessary are quite high.

Also, seniors will prefer the rower because it's a seated exercise.


How Do They Fare Price-Wise?

Concept 2 Rowerg is an affordable option when it compared to Skierg

The Rowerg with standard-sized legs is priced at $900. This is the most affordable rowing machine from Concept 2's range. The Dynamic Rower, also called Model D is priced at $1,250. 

The Skierg costs $770 on the official Concept 2 website. Add around $180 for the floor stand and it comes to $950.

So, very little difference price-wise too.


What about The Warranty?

The warranty on both of these machines is the same, so you won't have to worry about a thing with any

Both machines have a limited 2-year warranty on moving parts and the PM5 monitor. The warranty on the frame is 5-years.


What Do Customers Think of Each Product?

Among those who have used both machines, the Rower seems to have gained the favor of many

I have spoken extensively to CrossFitters as well as recreational fitness buffs who have used both, the Rower and the Skierg for years.

Based on the overall feedback, there are more takers for the rower. Part of it can be because its been around for much longer (1981 vs. 2014 for the Skierg). Also, there are a lot more clinical studies with credible evidence about the benefits of rowing

That does not mean that the Skierg is rated poorly. There are a lot of people who use both of these as part of a well-rounded fitness program. If you work out in a club where you have access to both, use both by all means.

Concept2 Rower Customer Reviews

Here is what customers of Concept 2 Rower think about their machines

For a product that has been around for over 30 years, the Rower's reviews have remained stellar. Most people who use the machine speak about how easy it is to assemble, and how low impact the activity is.

The Rower seems to outlast most other electronically powered fitness machines. Negative reviews are rare. But the ones that do exist, are about the monitor failing or the monorail acting up after a while.

Concept2 Skierg Customer Reviews

Here is what customers of Concept 2 Skierg think about their machines

For the Skierg, the reviews are consistently good too. There's a lot of chatter about how much it helps with lower abdominal muscle recruitment. Also, it looks similar to a cable pulley system.

But when you actually start to use it, it will make you weep.

The only possible quibble that people have with it is that it's more upper body focused than full body, like the rower is. That's not necessarily a deal breaker for a lot of people though.


Closing Thoughts: Concept 2: Rower vs Skierg

Both the Rower and the Skierg are incredible machines, but I love the Rower more

For me, the Rower is the slightly better pick. But I have my own reasons for selecting it over the Skierg, which is also a tremendous machine. 

It will give you more of a full body workout, without being too taxing on the lower back. The Skierg is no slouch either. But it's not as broad in scope as the rower. 

So, I'll go with Concept 2's signature product for now until Concept-2 or another company comes up with something better.

Which one of these two finds your fancy?

Related Readings: 

References:

Ben Mayz

Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at Fitlifefanatics.com. I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 16 years now. My passion for living a happy fit lifestyle is what made me realize that fitness is what I wanted for my future. I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics. My passion for Strength training & fitness and my love of helping others is what made me start Fitlifefanatics. Here, myself, and a team of specialist aim to provide the most accurate, and actionable information possible in hopes to help foster the fitness community forward. You can learn more about Fitlifefanatics on our About Page