Best Erging Shoes Indoor Rowing Indoor Rowers

Best erging shoes for rowing indoor rowers

Green Saucony JazzI have been doing my erg sets rocking Saucony Jazz running shoes since I was actually running in legit waffle-soled Jazz trainers back in my University rowing team. Recently, however, I have also taken on functional training in the form of weights, boxing, TRXm and the mighty kettlebell.  

One thing I do know about shoes and the Concept2 indoor rower — at least the Model C, my erg — is that anything fatter than my retro Sauconys just don’t fit in the Flexfoot footrest (in rowing, they’re called footplates). So, Nike Airs and Hoka One Ones and any other shoe with lots of heel drop (short for heel to toe drop or ramp angle).  

So, any shoe that’s got a wide heel or a thick wedge probably won’t work well on the Concept2, and not just for reasons of fitment.

Patriotic Converse Chuck Taylor All Star high topsI have four or five pairs of shoes that I like to use. Saucony Jazz like these green beauties were always my go-to erg shoes for my Concept2 Model C with PM5 upgrade but after reading, the heel rise isn’t ideal for erging so I’m retiring them and sticking to flat-soled trainers like Converse because they also work well with kettlebell work as well, so that’s better. What do you erg in?

I like to use my red, white, and blue canvas patriotic Converse Chuck Taylor All Star high tops, great for erging, swinging kettlebells, squats, and lifting. I don’t tie them all the way to the top, leaving one or two pair of eyelets to give me more ankle flexibility.

Great find: cheap canvas martial arts Feiyue Tiger Claw canvas flat-soled shoes. Sticky rubber sole, wears fast. Cheap and durable and replaceable. Great for kettlebells and indoor rowing and TRX and, obviously, kung-fu fighting!

Tiger Claw Feivue canvas flat-soled shoesOf course my favorite erging and kettlebelling pair of flat-soled sports shoes are my bright orange low tops canvas Chuck Taylor All-Stars.

Concept2 itself endorses orange Converse All-Stars in addition to barefoot and Adidas trainers and Nike Frees.  Additionally, the Sam Lock, the author, suggests “the problem with traditional running shoes is that there is usually significant cushioning in the heel that can change the angle of the feet. This small change under the heel is less comfortable than a shoe with less thickness under the heel. I also find that most running shoes emphasize cushioning but on the Concept2 Indoor Rower, I feel they reduce the amount of force applied through the leg drive. Now, this might be a very small reduction in power efficiency, but I figure why not give myself every chance of pulling good numbers?”

Bright orange canvas Chuck Taylor All-StarsAccording to Rowing Machine King, “Extra cushion on your shoes can lead to a less efficient rowing stroke and also effect the angle of your feet which can change your bio-mechanics” and “a large cushion and big “heel-to-toe drop” can also cause a change in the angle of your feet” . . . “an erg shoe with a zero drop will have no effect but a running shoe with a large heel-to-toe drop will.”

Erg Rowing recommends, “It might be a surprise to know that when it comes to footwear for Erging the less cushioning the better” . . . “The power you apply to the foot plate on the erg is crucial to the power you are can transfer through your body and on to the handle. But imagine if a small percentage of the power you apply was being absorbed in your shoes? This can add up over a long training session and cause a lot of your rowing power to be absorbed by the cushioning of your footwear” and recommends “track shoes without the spikes, weightlifting shoes, sneakers without the insole, and tennis or squash shoes.”

Best Erging Shoes Indoor Rowing Indoor Rowers

Best Erging Shoes Indoor Rowing Indoor Rowers

I did a much more extensive review of the Tiger Claw Feiyue Martial Arts Shoes you can check out here: Tiger Claw Feiyue shoes are perfect for indoor rowing and kettlebell training.


4 thoughts on “Best erging shoes for rowing indoor rowers

  1. Michelle C

    I’m new to rowing with my circa-2006 Concept2 and was intrigued by this article! Didn’t realize footwear would matter, but Chris explains it all rather nicely. Would barefoot/Vibram soles work well?

    1. Chris Abraham

      Yes! Vibram 5 toes and Keds and Vans and even reef socks and reef shoes and even nonslip socks work. I have an old erg, too, beautiful Michelle (hi!), a Model C, and I just want to make sure the thick plastic heel cradle doesn’t cut into my heel and ankle. So just make sure you are and stay comfortable. For example, I needed to readjust the foot thingy and the strap to larger/longer and tighter with my Converses than with the Jazzes.

  2. Pingback: Tiger Claw Feiyue shoes are perfect for indoor rowing and kettlebell training - RNNR

  3. Pingback: My favorite running shoe is still Saucony Jazz - RNNR

  4. Petra

    Great article – When I originally started out I really didn’t think shoes were something that mattered but I must say with time once I did changed over to the right shoe my rowing improved so much! Thx for sharing!


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