What is the VersaClimber and how do you use it?
Flashback: The VersaClimber is a complete-body cardio machine that was a hit in the 80’s, grazing late-night TV infomercials when millennials were still barely toddlers. Recently, it just made a huge comeback with celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and LeBron James (among just a few) hailing it as their biggest fitness secret. Now, this high-intensity, low-impact vertical climber runs on its second show in the gyms, with trainers all across the country crafting entire workout programs around it.
VersaClimber – How It Works
With pedals and handles utilizing all of your four limbs, the VersaClimber (vertical climber) exercises your entire body through a “cross-crawl” motion. Your right arm alternatingly goes up as your left leg does, then your left arm and right leg or vice versa. From our early years, we humans have been primitively conditioned to do this functional movement; hence this machine helps enhance proper body movement patterns, thereby promoting overall strength and stability.
The machine works out the arms, legs, glutes, core, and back altogether; thus if you use it long enough, you’ll begin to feel like you’re getting a serious workout, and it is. As you recruit more muscles, your body also uses more oxygen which is the catalyst that ignites a great caloric burn.
You can expect to burn about 600 to 800 calories for only 30 minutes of climbing! That’s how fast and effectively it works.
How to Use a VersaClimber:
At first, you will realize that the pedals of the machine are staggered. Simply step on the bottom pedal first (with your right or left foot), then step on the other pedal (the top pedal) with your other foot. Hold on to the shoulder-height horizontal handlebars to help keep your balance.
The vertical climber also has a screen that displays all of your performance stats such as total steps, average steps per minute, time elapsed, and more—useful indicator for tracking your progress and setting your fitness goals.
At first you may feel like it’s only natural to stand completely upright and align your body to the machine’s central vertical rail. Ideally however, you want instead to keep your body’ weight back so push your hips back and keep your chest up while bending your knees. This ensures that your glutes are engaged. (The glutes are the human body’s largest muscle group, hence the VersaClimber’s primary mover.)
Range of Motion and Speed
You have full control as to your speed and range of motion when using the VersaClimber. It is up to you how fast you want to go; the same goes for the range of motion. You can do both short strokes and long strokes to mix up your exercise. In fact, in an athletic conditioning class at my studio, CRAG, in Jersey City, you will be taken through various ranges of motion from full to short and back again. This not only keeps things interesting but forces your body to move as it would in sport. There are times when you need to go all out and then you slow down and jog at a light speed and much shorter range of motion. This is one of the reasons we excel at athletic conditioning. The weight loss and muscular definition that comes along with it are great by-products, but conditioning is primary.
You can grip the handles of the machine either with palms facing toward you or away from you. A major problem with most fitness studios, from bootcamps to major well known national fitness studios that use treadmills to indoor cycling…especially indoor cycling…is that they neglect one of the largest muscle groups, your back. This is a major no-no. Our back muscles give us presence, whether man or woman. When someone has a presence it’s because their back is developed. My Versaclimber classes at CRAG Work your back without you even thinking about it. With every stride on the Versaclimber you are pulling down. That’s your back muscles at work. It’s like your doing 400 pull-ups in every class.
If you place your palms facing you, similar to doing chin-ups, you not only work your back but you also get more bicep engagement. The next time you take a CRAG class, checkout how well defined the guys and girls are. You actually can’t help but to develop a nice physique when you train at CRAG.
You start by keeping the hips back and chest forward but you can also place your hands on the side rails and only use your legs to move up and down. This is what happens in a spin class except unlike a spin bike there’s no inertia in a Versaclimber. If you tap the pedal on a spin bike it will glide a little bit on its own. With the Versaclimber, if you want it to move…YOU HAVE TO MOVE IT. So if you want those powerful sprinter legs here’s what you do:
Take your hands off of the grips and place them on the front rail.
Squat down low.
Start pumping your legs with a full range of motion. In other words take really big steps. Bring your knees up to your face as our instructors say at CRAG.
Now increase the tension.
In 2 minutes time you will hate life, but you’ll love your legs. And the next time you go to a spin class you won’t even break a sweat.
The knob directly in front of you and right below the screen is the tension. The further to the right you turn it, the more and more difficult it is to move the Versaclimber. This allows us to work in the strength realm in addition to cardio and endurance.
Just remember to keep at it!
Just like any new exercise machine or fitness class, using the VersaClimber can be quite intimidating and extremely taxing at first. Once you get the right feel of it though, your movement will start feeling more fluid and natural.
When you begin to break a sweat, just keep moving and soon enough, your breathing will also even out as well as your rhythm.
The VersaClimber is a serious workout machine but as you keep at it, your conditioning will go through the roof and your body will look like a well oiled machine. There’s a reason top level professional athletes swear by this machine. CRAG makes this top level secret training accessible to all.
Come take a class if you’re in the New York City metro area. We’d love to have you.