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Best erging shoes for rowing indoor rowers

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I 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.
Best erging shoes for rowing indoor rowers

Best Erging Shoes Indoor Rowing Indoor Rowers

I have been doing my erg sets rocking SauconyJazz 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.

I 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!

Of 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?"

According 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."

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. 

Best Erging Shoes Indoor Rowing Indoor Rowers

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What does Chris Abraham recommend as the best erging shoes for indoor rowers?

  • Chris Abraham recommends flat-soled trainers for erging on indoor rowers like the Concept2. He suggests canvas shoes such as Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars and martial arts shoes like the Feiyue Tiger Claw due to their minimal cushioning and low heel-to-toe drop, which improve power transfer and comfort during rowing.

2. Why does Chris Abraham advise against using typical running shoes for erging?

  • Running shoes often have significant cushioning, especially in the heel, which can alter the angle of the feet and reduce the effectiveness of the leg drive during rowing. This cushioning can absorb some of the power meant to be transferred to the rowing machine, leading to less efficient strokes.

3. What specific shoes does Chris Abraham personally use for erging?

  • Chris has used Saucony Jazz shoes, but due to their heel rise, he plans to retire them. He currently prefers his patriotic Converse Chuck Taylor All Star high tops and Feiyue Tiger Claw shoes for their flat soles and flexibility.

4. What criteria should be considered when choosing shoes for erging according to experts?

  • Experts recommend choosing shoes with minimal cushioning and a low or zero heel-to-toe drop. Shoes should also allow for stable, firm placement of the feet to maximize power transfer during rowing strokes.

5. What are some other activities for which Chris Abraham uses his erging shoes?

  • Besides erging, Chris uses his erging shoes for activities like kettlebell training, TRX workouts, and general weightlifting, highlighting their versatility in various forms of training.



  • A popular brand of indoor rowers. Chris Abraham uses the Model C with a PM5 upgrade.


  • Short for "ergometer rowing." It refers to using an indoor rowing machine.

Feiyue Tiger Claw Shoes

  • Martial arts shoes known for their minimal cushioning and flexibility, making them suitable for activities requiring a good feel of the ground.

Flat-Sole Trainers

  • Shoes with minimal height difference between the heel and the toe, enhancing stability and power transfer in sports like rowing and weightlifting.

FlyteFoam Blast

  • A technology used in some athletic shoes for lightweight cushioning, though not recommended by Chris for erging due to potential power loss.

Heel-to-Toe Drop

  • The difference in height between the heel and the forefoot in shoes. A lower drop is preferred for erging to facilitate a more natural foot position and effective power transfer.

Kettlebell Training

  • A form of weightlifting using kettlebells, which are heavy weights with a handle. Shoes with flat soles are preferred for stability.


  • Total Resistance Exercises, a brand of suspension training equipment that uses bodyweight exercises to develop strength, balance, flexibility, and core stability simultaneously.