3 VersaClimber Workouts for Head-to-Toe Cardio Burn

Sick of the treadmill and elliptical? Add the VersaClimber to your cardio days for a little challenge and variety.

A bit of a unicorn in the cardio corner of your gym, the VersaClimber delivers a strength and cardio machine workout like no other.

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Thanks to its unique design, which keeps you upright at a 75-degree angle and requires what's known as "contralateral" movement (aka crawling), this vertical climbing machine forces different parts of your body to move together in a push-pull motion that activates your shoulders, back, core and legs.

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What's more, it's self-powered: You choose how fast or slow you want to go by how fast you move the handles and pedals, which is also why vertical climber workouts can feel so hard. Another plus: You don't get any lag time when you want to slow down or speed up.

Ready to give this machine a try? These three VersaClimber workouts will get your heart pumping and muscles burning in 30 minutes or less.

How Long Should You Work Out on a Vertical Climber?

As with any cardio machine, it's totally up to you! You can spend anywhere from 10 minutes (like the workout below) to 30 minutes. But, if you're new to the VersaClimber, start with a shorter workout and gradually add more time as you grow more confident.

Like a treadmill or elliptical, you can use a vertical climber as often as you'd like each week — but don't do too much too soon. Combine your vertical climbing workouts with other forms of cardio to meet the Physical Guidelines for Americans: 150 minutes of steady state or 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio per week.

VersaClimber Main Movements

When using a VersaClimber, you'll have a step and arm height of 1 to 20 inches. This piece of gym equipment is completely user-defined, meaning you determine your step length and speed. You can monitor your step length on the digital display of the machine — depending on the model, it's typically displayed on the upper or lower right side of the monitor.

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(If using a different brand of vertical climber machine, the display, total adjustment length and resistance may vary, but you can still use these workouts as a general guide.)

Here are the main movements you'll find within the following workouts:

  • Short range:‌ move about 4–8 inches vertically, keeping a pretty large bend in your knees and elbows
  • Mid range:‌ move about 6–14 inches, keeping a smaller bend in your knees and elbows
  • Long Range:‌ fully extend your body about 12–20 inches as you bring your opposite knee and elbow toward one another
  • Sprint:‌ move 6–20 inches as fast as you can go
  • Resistance:‌ turn resistance knob to the right to add resistance
  • Squat:‌ place your hands on the fixed middle bar and climb with your lower body

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1. VersaClimber Workout for Beginners

Warmup (3 minutes)

  1. Move in the short range for 30 seconds.
  2. Increase the length to mid range for 30 seconds.
  3. Increase the length again to long range for 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat these steps for 2 rounds.

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Tip

“Try to keep tempo at a consistent pace through varying range lengths,” says Tyler White, CPT, a lead instructor at RiseNation. “Start slow and work up to quicker tempos.”

Speed Interval (2 minutes)

  1. Climb in the mid range for 20 seconds.
  2. Sprint for 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat these steps for 4 total rounds.

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Tip

Take a 60-second rest (or longer) between sets until you're ready for the next round, White recommends.

Cooldown (1–2 minutes)

  1. Shift to a short-to-mid range step length, slowing your tempo gradually.

2. 10-Minute VersaClimber Workout

Warmup (3 minutes)

  1. Climb at mid range for 1 minute.
  2. Shift to long range for 30 seconds.
  3. Repeat for 2 rounds.

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Speed Interval 1 (2 minutes)

  1. Climb at mid range for 45 seconds.
  2. Sprint for 15 seconds.
  3. Repeat for 2 rounds.

Resistance Interval (3 minutes)

  1. Add 2 full turns to resistance knob.
    • Climb at the mid range for 1 minute.
    • Shift to the long range for 30 seconds.
  2. Add 1 more turn to resistance knob (3 total now).
    • Climb at the mid range for 1 minute.
    • Shift to the long range for 30 seconds.

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Tip

“Your overall tempo should slow down here so your form is not compromised with adding additional resistance,” White says.

Speed Interval 2 (1 minute)

  1. Climb at the mid range for 15 seconds.
  2. Sprint for 15 seconds.
  3. Repeat for a total of 2 rounds.

Tip

Your goal in this second round is to maintain or build upon your speed from the first round, this time with shorter rest periods, White says.

Cooldown (1 minute)

  1. Return to a mid-range length and slow down your tempo.
  2. Gradually slow down, allowing your heart rate to slow.

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3. 30-Minute VersaClimber Workout

Warmup (6 minute)

  1. Climb at mid range for 1 minute.
  2. Shift to the long range for 30 seconds.
  3. Repeat three more times for 4 rounds.

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Tip

As with the other workouts, try to keep your tempo at a consistent pace during both mid- and long-range work during the warmup.

Speed Interval 1 (5 minutes)

  1. Climb at mid range for 45 seconds.
  2. Sprint for 15 seconds.
  3. Repeat the steps above three more times for 4 rounds.
  4. Climb at mid range for 30 seconds.
  5. Sprint for 30 seconds.

Lower-Body Interval (6 minutes)

  1. Climb at mid range for 1 minute.
  2. At the same tempo, squat for 30 seconds.
  3. Increase your tempo slightly and squat for 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat two more times for a total of 3 rounds.

Tip

"During the second minute of each round, move your hands to the middle bar to the squat position in order to target your core and lower body," White says.

Resistance Interval (4 minutes)

  1. Add 2 full turns to resistance knob
    • Climb at mid range for 1 minute.
    • Shift to long range for 1 minute.
  2. Add 1 more turn to resistance knob (3 total now).
    • Climb at mid range for 1 minute.
    • Shift to long range for 1 minute.

Tip

Your overall tempo should slow down here so your form isn't compromised when you add resistance, White says.

Speed Interval 2 (6 minutes)

  1. Climb at mid range for 1 minute.
  2. Sprint for 30 seconds.
  3. Repeat for a total of 2 rounds.
  4. Climb at mid range for 45 seconds.
  5. Sprint for 15 seconds.
  6. Repeat for a total of 2 rounds.
  7. Climb at mid range for 20 seconds.
  8. Sprint for 10 seconds.
  9. Repeat for a total of 2 rounds.

Your goal here is to maintain or build upon your speed each round, White recommends.

Cooldown (4 minutes)

  1. Gradually start to slow down your tempo with each minute.
  2. Allow your heart rate to calm down before stopping.

7 Tips for Getting Started on a VersaClimber

If you're just getting started on a VersaClimber, there are a few pointers White wants you to keep in mind.

1. Adjust Your Handlebars

Start by adjusting your handlebars for your size, positioning them just at or slightly below your shoulder level. (On a VersaClimber machine, you should find a button on the end of the handlebar to release it.)

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2. Adjust Your Foot Straps

Don't strap the velcro around your feet too tightly. Loose foot straps will help keep your feet from going numb during your workout.

3. Pick a Good Playlist

Music boosts your movement. Put on your favorite playlist with a heavy beat to help you find your rhythm on the VersaClimber.

4. Grip the Machine Lightly

Avoid a death grip, White says. Don't try to control the whole machine with your arms, and instead think about the tempo coming from your core.

5. Check Your Posture

Think "booty back, hinge forward," White says. Pull your shoulders back, keeping them relaxed, elbows in and hinge forward with a soft bend in your knees, pushing your butt back behind you.

6. Shake Your Hands and Feet

Every so often, shake out hands and feet to aid in circulation, as we tend to hold lots of tension in our bodies while learning to climb.

7. Rest Regularly

It takes some quality time on the climber to acclimate to the movement, so take as many breaks as needed.

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