The VersaClimber machine has you use your arms and legs to simulate climbing a hill. Since you don't pound the ground as you would with running it also provides a low-impact workout. Always check with a health care professional before starting a new workout regimen and gain instruction on proper use of a new workout machine before using it.
The VersaClimber will get your heart rate higher and lead to significantly more oxygen consumption, meaning a higher VO2 max, during a workout than a treadmill or rowing machine can, say C.J. Brahler and S.E. Blank, authors of a study published in "Medicine and Science in Sports Exercise." The study measured heart rate and VO2 max results of progressive work done on all three machines by collegiate oarswomen. Intensity was increased in two-minute increments. VO2 max is an important factor when it comes to determining workout quality. Running usually is the activity that causes the highest oxygen consumption rates so is usually used for comparison in studies of this nature. Such studies lead to claims by VersaClimber that it provides the best overall workout, topping running, rowing, cross country skiing, cycling, ellipticals, stair steppers and swimming.
While the study by Brahler and Blank seems to point to the VersaClimber as a better workout than rowing or running, the study design did have some flaws, say the experts at Peak Performance. The study subjects were skilled at upper-body work because of their experience as oarswomen but were not as experienced at running. That means performing the study with experienced runners is likely to yield different results.
Depending on your workout goals, the VersaClimber may not actually provide the best workout for you. It might be great if you are a rower, but if you are a runner, know that your leg muscles will actually use less oxygen during a VersaClimber workout than a running workout. That means it won't be as effective as running for "teaching" your legs to increase oxygen utilization, according to Peak Performance. However, it is a good low-impact option that can boost strength in your hip and quadriceps muscles, which has value if you seek a good cross-training tool. Also, you can use the machine's side rails and step with just your legs. It can be used in lieu of hill running and stadium stair climbing, notes Heart Rate Inc., the machine's manufacturer. It also provides sport specific workouts for rowing, biking and climbing, according to the VersaClimber Sport Applications Handbook.
Getting in Shape
If you are not training for a sport such as running and just want a good total body workout the machine is a valuable tool because of the fact that it involves the arm muscles to amp up your oxygen consumption and heart rate, which in turn will bolster your fitness level. The machine has value as a way to strengthen your upper body, including your back, biceps, triceps and shoulders. You can concentrate on using certain muscles such as your biceps and your shoulders, for example, and you can grip with palms facing toward or away from you to change muscles worked.
Cardio Combo Workout
Use the VersaClimber to up intensity in a cardio combo interval workout. After warming up, climb at a quick rate for a set time or goal, such as attempting to get 500 feet or working hard for five minutes. Then hop off the climber and pedal at a comfortable rate on a stationary bike, allowing your heart rate to come back down. Repeat this drill five times for a tough 35-minute workout, suggests AskTheTrainer.com.