Most climber-style exercise machines work your upper and lower body together. This challenges you to develop greater muscular endurance, engaging your core and the large muscles of your chest, back and shoulders along with the muscles of your legs and hips. Working your upper and lower body together also places a greater load on your cardiovascular system and burns more calories, since you’re working more muscle mass.
The VersaClimber looks innocent enough at first glance. It’s like a stair stepper with an extra-long vertical column. Horizontal handlebars protrude to each side of the column; you grasp these handlebars and work them alternately up and down as you step up and down on the foot pedals. Using a VersaClimber is a bit like trying to scramble up an endless, steep rock wall.
The Jacob’s Ladder works on the same principle as a treadmill set at a constant 40-degree incline. But instead of walking up a treadbelt you scale an endless series of ladder rungs. It’s as if you were going the wrong way up an escalator with rungs instead of steps. You can bend forward from the hips and use your upper body to help you up the Jacob’s Ladder, or hold the handrails to either side of the ladder mechanism for support as you use your lower body only.
The Jacob’s Ladder is self-powered, so there are no hidden electrical costs. And it’s self-paced, so you don’t have to worry about keeping up with it or not being challenged enough; the faster you move, the faster the rungs move, too.
Marpo Kinetics Rope Climbers
Marpo Kinetics offers a line of rope climbers that put a priority on upper-body development, but you can get your legs involved, too. You start out by sitting or standing and pulling a loop of rope through several pulleys. It’s like climbing an endless gym rope. You can also pull the rope up, instead of down, and if you pull up on the rope while standing you can add a squat to each pull, working your lower body and core along with your back, chest and arms.