VersaClimber 101

Is your workout lacking intensity? Do you find yourself using the same cardio machines day in and day out wondering if they are getting you closer to your goals? If your answer is I don’t know or I think I’m working hard enough then it’s time to challenge your self and try to use the VersaClimber. It is a very unique looking machine that many gym goers over look and could be just the tool for you. My style of personal training is usually geared toward staying away from machines that limited planes of motion, limit core engagement and have little sport specific movement but when I do put my clients on a machine my go to piece of equipment is the VersaClimber.

The VersaClimber is one of those pieces of equipment where what you put into it you get out of it. If you go hard on it you can burn out in seconds and if you go easy on it you can do it for a long time. It is considered non impact so no pounding of your joints but does require hip and knee active range of motion. Your hands and feet stay attached to handles and pedals through the full range of motion. The movement on the machine is vertical so your body weight does play a factor which is different than the rowing machines where the movement is horizontal and weight bearing is not a significant factor. Visually it looks like you are rock climbing at warp speed. Physically your legs and arms are coordinating a push and pull pattern while your body stays suspended in one spot.

The VersaClimber can be used to increase your aerobic endurance by performing longer bouts at slower speeds. It is mainly used, by personal trainers and strength coaches to increase their client’s anaerobic power; which in a nut shell is how hard or intense you can “work” for a short period of time. The VersaClimber does not functionally mimic a specific movement in sports but what it can mimic is the demands of intensity and duration a sport activity places on the body during practice or competition. For example a game of squash goes to 11 points. Each rally may take seconds or even minutes so athletes know they need to be ready for both. The VersaClimber can be used to mimic a 15-30 second rally meaning you would go hard for 15-30 seconds and then depending on the person’s conditioning level they would have a recovery period of 15-30 seconds. If the athlete is de-conditioned they may need a longer recovery bout. This would be repeated 11 times to mimic their first game. A squash athlete may have to play anywhere from 3-5 games. This is a lot of conditioning but absolutely needs to be addressed so that the body can keep up with the demands of the sport without getting injured while playing fatigued.

If you are not trying to mimic demands of a sport but just want to kick up your workout a notch then try setting a goal of reaching a certain height say 500 feet or going for a certain amount of time such as a minute. After a few tries at it you will start to compete with yourself and each time you get on the VersaClimber you can challenge your last height or time. For first time clients I like to challenge them to make 100 feet in under a minute. For my seasoned clients I like them to make 150 feet in under a minute. We would usually perform this 2-3 times with a minute of active rest such as some sort of abdominal exercise to get them off their legs for a minute.

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