Slides are a fantastic indoor rowing accessory that can support you in making huge technical gains, including a quicker catch, better body weight control, and improved technique at rate. Yet, many people still don’t know what slides are and how they provide more training options.
This article is all about that. I’m going to give you a complete guide to slides, including how to use them and how they compare to popular dynamic rowing machines.
What Are Concept 2 Slides?
Slides are an accessory that you can purchase for your rowing machine to make the static rowing machine feel more like a boat.
They’re a fantastic training option if you’re looking to use the rowing machine as a cross training tool for on-the-water rowing. It will help you improve on-the-water feel and mix up your training by introducing dynamic rowing to your indoor training plan.
Rowing slides are incredibly easy to fit to your machine. Simply stand your static rowing machine on top of the wheeled carriage on both slides… and away you go!
Image from Concept2
What the Slides Add to Your Rowing Workouts
You’ll add value to your regular indoor rowing workouts when you incorporate the slides to your rowing machine. Here are some of the features you’ll get to enjoy:
- Help you check your technical faults – Once your rowing machine is on the slides, you’ll immediately uncover any hidden flaw in your technique. The slides allow the erg to move underneath you, so if you’re not sequencing properly (for example), the slides will soon let you know by ‘crashing’ forwards and backwards.
- Give you a dynamic rowing feel – By using the slides, you give the erg a dynamic rowing feel, which means that the erg moves back and forth underneath you (the way a boat should slide under you as you’re rowing on the water).
- Develop quicker catch & improves stroke rate – Consequentially, you are only moving the mass of the machine (approximately 30kg) and not your body mass, allowing you to develop a quicker catch and hold a slightly higher rate during higher intensity training and interval workouts. Ultimately, this means that using erg slides are a really fantastic training tool for improving rowing technique and your high-intensity fitness.
- Great tool for indoor team training – People training in teams will find the slides useful in joining multiple static rowing machines together so they can practice rowing as a team. The erg slides have a base with two tracks and a wheeled carriage, which allows for multiple static rowing machines to all move back and forth together.
I’ve spent many training sessions with my erg connected to my teammates via the slides, and personally, this has really helped me develop my rhythm when rowing in team boats. Using it also helps to break up the sometimes monotonous winter training period. Side Note: You might also like to read – Concept 2 Rower Alternatives
How Do You Row on Slides?
Setting up and using the slides are straightforward, but first, let’s answer a very important question.
Will the Slides Work with Any Rowing Machine?
Unfortunately, no, the Concept 2 slides are only compatible with Concept 2 ergometers (models C, D and E). So, only buy the slides if you have any of these models or are planning on buying a Concept2 rowing machine.
Setting Up the Slides
Place the two slides down on a level surface. There should be approximately 30cm (1ft) in between them (for solo slide rowing). Then set the front and rear legs of the ergo into the steel base.
Rowing on Slides
Starting out on slides can be quite an eye opening event. When I first started on slides I was ‘crashing’ forwards and backwards along the steel base—meaning that I was getting my sequencing slightly wrong during the recovery phases. Specifically, I found that I was crashing my body weight into the catch.
Thanks to the slides I was able to fix my technical faults very quickly. I’ve found that it really helps people in training by magnifying their technical faults—they certainly did for me!
Video of Me Breaking Concept 2 Rowing Records
The way you row on slides should be the same as you row on static or dynamic rowing machines. The only difference is that the rowing machine moves underneath you, instead of you moving back and forth up the machine as you would on any standard indoor rower.
Where it differs (and this is where the slides closely mimic the ‘on-the-water feel’) is that the whole movement is structured around a stationary seat. Your seat stays still, and the rowing machine moves towards you and then is pushed away when you start the drive (the same way it would be on a dynamic ergometer).
As I mentioned above, on slides, your technical faults are magnified. You may be able to get away with many of these technical flaws on static rowing machines but not on slides.
If your sequencing is off—for example, you’re not rocking your back forward before you start moving your leg—then you’ll feel the rowing slides shunt forward and the wheeled carriage crashing into the front of the steel base. If this happens regularly throughout your sessions, then you’ve found a technical point to work on and fix!
Aside from technical pointers, you’ll find that you’re able to work at a higher stroke rate during interval workouts. The slides are moving the rowing machine underneath you, so in effect, you’re moving just the weight of the machine and not your body mass.
If you’re an on-the-water racer, you get more specificity in your training plan if you can train at the higher stroke rate that you can hold in a boat. It is hugely valuable when you’re able to ‘out-rate’ your opponents!
Are Concept 2 Slides Worth It?
Image from Concept2
Firstly, the cost of erg slides is far less than the most popular dynamic rowing machines. Whilst a brand-new dynamic rower will cost comfortably within $1250-$3,000, adding a set of Concept2 erg slides to your rowing arsenal will only cost around $290. This means that you can get all of the benefits from the dynamic rower and dynamic rowing for a fraction of the cost.
Secondly, for those of us who are ultimately on-the-water rowers who often train indoors, slides are great training tools to develop on-the-water technique through the winter months.
As mentioned above, they closely mimic the water feel by allowing the back-and-forth movement of the rowing machine underneath you—just like a boat!
As a result, using slides helps those of us trying to develop a better boat feel, a quicker catch, and a very strong connection though the legs at the start of the drive phase. These are all benefits you can get from spending time on a dynamic rower – but for the fraction of the price of a brand-new dynamic rower!
I Broke the Concept 2 British Records with Slides
If you’re into indoor rowing, and you occasionally like to row in competitions (like me!), slides can open up a whole new level of competition for you. The Concept 2 website hosts a range of records set on slides—and guess what, I recently broke the British Record for the 4-minute row on slides. Side Note: Learn More About Competitive Indoor Rowing Weight Classes
My Concept 2 Record Certificate on Concept Slides:
And for those of us looking for more variety in our higher intensity training workouts, slides offer a whole new way to get your legs burning and the flywheel spinning whilst allowing you to practice rowing technique at the same time!
- You Might Also Like to Read My Article on Rowing Cross Training
Where Can I Find Concept 2 Slides for Sale?
You can buy new slides directly from the Concept 2 website, but it’s also worth checking some second hand selling websites, such as Ebay and Craigslist.
Finding slides second hand is quite rare—I imagine this is because they’re so loved by the users that they are never sold on! Occasionally, you can strike gold and find yourself a bargain, so it’s definitely worth checking the online second hand marketplaces.
Something also worth trying, for the bargain hunters among us, is contacting local rowing clubs to ask if they have any that are no longer used. I was very lucky to find a single slide from a local club that had been slightly mistreated, but thanks to Concept 2’s excellent build quality, I was soon able to get it up and running again.
Buying slides new certainly has its benefits. One such perk is Concept 2’s excellent customer service should you need any support in setting up and using your slides (although the out-of-the-box setup is very minimal).
How Many Slides Do You Need for Team Rowing?
For those interested in team rowing—you’ll need one static indoor rower per person and one slide more than the number of people you’re rowing with. So, two rowers will require three slides, four rowers will need five slides, and so on.
I can strongly recommend using Concept 2 slides as they are truly great training tools for improving indoor and on-the-water technique, while getting a very solid workout in!
They’re simple to set up and use. You can convert your static machine into a dynamic rower by simply putting the front and rear legs of the ergometer into the two tracks.
In conclusion, if you’re looking to spice up your training options and improve your technique at the same time—rowing on slides is the thing for you!
Written by Max Secunda – RowingCrazy.com
Experienced Heavy Weight Rower, Rowing Instructor & Coach, Novice Men’s Rowing Captain, British Concept 2 Record Holder & Rowing YouTube Influencer
Max is a rower at Vesta Rowing Club based in London, UK. He started rowing at the University of Sheffield, where he also was the Captain of the Novice Men’s Rowing Team, Max has a well know YouTube channel where he vlogs about his rowing training and experiences.