Erging: Level Two

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There’s plenty of nice lists that already describe how to erg; have a big fan, water close by, etc. Basic stuff most of you know. Here’s my list that hopefully adds to your erg repertoire.

  • Here’s a great warm-up shortcut. I often struggle to get going, especially when I combine early training with 1 minute efforts. Doing 10x super-slow deep body weight squats before getting on the bike cuts 10 minutes off my warm up. Doing this “switches on” those neural pathways and motor units at a similar peak force to what those efforts require. Give it a go.
  • Have a dedicated erg bike. Set up your environment so it takes minimal effort to get started. If I had to put my bike on the kickr each morning I’d never do it.
  • I’m going to go against the grain here: don’t use rewards. Athletes motivated by an immediate reward system, like a food reward for completing a session, are rarely successful in the long term. Just accept that this is now part of your weekly schedule and the unspoken satisfaction you’ll feel sitting at your desk later in the day is enough.
  • Rituals are different than rewards. They are highly effective because the body loves routine. My Tuesday ritual is always the same: wake at the same time, drink a 1L mug of instant coffee whilst watching ABC news for 15 minutes. That ritual leads to an outcome: getting on the erg and doing the session.
  • You’ve all read about Pavlov’s Dog. Similarly, I reserve a bunch of songs exclusively for erging – I never listen to them otherwise. When I hear them, they elicit a physical response – my body knows it’s time to work. It’s amazingly powerful. Caveat – you will eventually hate those songs and will need to retire them. I’d also recommend YouTube music videos as the perfect mix of mindless auditory and visual distraction necessary to make the time pass quickly.
  • Don’t think too much. All the mental trickery or positive affirmations in the world will not save you. Just give yourself an uppercut and get on the damn bike. Like getting in the pool on a cold morning, half the battle is won once you get started.

Hope that helps all my fellow ergers in these dark months.

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