Fitness

Vertical Climber Workouts for Total Body Fitness

Vertical climbers are a bit of a black sheep in the cardio equipment family. But recently, they have grown in popularity due to their effectiveness in providing a full-body workout that simultaneously challenges your muscles and cardiovascular system. The machines are designed to mimic rock climbing with pedals and handles that you push, pull, and press in a climbing-esque motion. 

Unlike rock climbing walls that require strapping into harnesses and wearing special shoes (and, for some, overcoming a fear of heights), vertical climbers are much more accessible when you’re looking for a regular workout in the gym or at home. Plus, climbers offer a low-impact alternative to running and provide more of a full-body challenge than an elliptical machine. Below, you will learn the benefits of vertical climbers, workouts to try, and precautions for safe use.

Benefits of Vertical Climber Workouts

Vertical climber workouts offer a combination of cardiovascular and strength training benefits, which makes them an efficient addition to your fitness routine. Here are a few of the health perks you may experience by regularly using a vertical climber.

Cardiovascular Fitness

Vertical climber workouts are an excellent way to boost your heart rate and increase cardiovascular fitness and endurance. “Increasing the tempo and duration of use on a vertical climbing machine provides an effective total-body cardiovascular workout,” says Christian Marquez, Fitness Manager of Movement Gyms, who holds a Master’s in Teaching Physical Education and has 10 years of weight training coaching experience.  

Staying active, in general, is proven to reduce cardiovascular death and disease risk, reduce blood pressure, increase insulin sensitivity, and balance cholesterol levels. Not only is this good news for your heart, lungs, metabolism, and overall physical functioning, but you’ll also experience better sleep, easier sexual arousal, lower stress, improved moods, and less anxiety with consistent cardio training.

Builds Strength and Muscle

While climbing, you engage multiple muscle groups at once, including your legs, core, and upper body. “This full-body engagement provides strength training benefits, helping you build lean muscle,” says Marquez. 

Plus, Marquez explains, adjustable handlebars and foot pedals, paired with scalable resistance, allow you to get a customized total body workout that can increase strength as well as conditioning over time by allowing you to increase the challenge. “Increasing the resistance on the vertical climber can push the user to exert a greater force output with their arms and legs, effectively building strength,” he adds.

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Vertical climbers can allow users to safely work to fatigue, which builds muscle fibers in a process called hypertrophy. “This process forces the body to adapt to higher loads, building muscle along the way,” explains Marquez.  Muscle growth (hypertrophy) works best if you also perform resistance training, consume plenty of protein, and eat in a calorie surplus.

Improves Posture and Reduces Back Pain

“Vertical climbers simultaneously have you pushing, pulling, and maintaining good posture,” says Marquez. While using the machines, you’ll engage your core and back, challenging yourself to remain upright with good form, which helps strengthen and maintain the muscles that support proper posture, according to Marquez. 

Exercises that support posture also help reduce the likelihood and severity of low back pain, a common complaint that affects most adults at some point in their lifetime. “A workout on the vertical climber stretches and engages muscles in the back, which in turn can help to reduce some causes of back pain,” explains Marquez. Increasing your core strength can help protect your back, but interestingly, aerobic exercise, which climbers offer, has also been shown to improve back pain.

Supports Healthy Activity Level and Weight Balance

Vertical climbers offer a considerable advantage in increasing overall activity levels and supporting a balanced weight. Vertical climber workouts are significant calorie burners, making them a helpful tool for increasing energy output. Balancing your energy intake (food) with your activity levels is essential for achieving and maintaining a body weight that supports health.

Although body weight is not the only measure of wellbeing, keeping your weight within a healthy-for-you range may help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, cancer, and more.

Low-Impact Workout Option

Low-impact exercise is easier on your joint cartilage, which is crucial if you have a medical condition or your current fitness level means that higher-impact workouts aren’t a safe option. Compared to running on a treadmill, vertical climbers produce less impact on joints, making them an excellent low-impact workout choice.

“If you want the benefits of high-intensity training without the pounding, this is where [a vertical climber] separates itself—by extending your arms over your head and flexing your hips, you have the ability to move aggressively with a fast tempo,” explains Derek Millender, head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers and proponent of Versa Climber workouts for professional athletes and fitness newbies.

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Whether you have joint pain or already pound the pavement a few times a week, using a vertical climber for crosstraining can keep you moving without adding more stress and strain to tissues, preventing overuse, strain, and injuries. Another way to reduce the impact on your joints is to build muscle, which decreases the loading on the joints, offering a protective effect.

Getting Started with Vertical Climber Workouts

Before you start your vertical climber workout, it’s crucial to prepare your body for the work ahead. Begin with a full-body dynamic warm-up to get your blood flowing and your muscles ready for action. A few minutes of light bodyweight movements, such as inchworms, gate-openers, arm circles, bird dogs, and squats, are ideal.

Vertical Climber Warm-Up Exercises

Vertical Climber Workouts

Vertical climbers are versatile and can be used for a variety of workout formats, including interval-style cardio, circuit training, or as a warm-up for resistance training.

Vertical Climber Interval Workout

Try this interval-style cardio workout from Marquez.

Minutes 0-3: At a moderate resistance, cycle through 30 seconds of climbing at the “short range” (opposing arms and legs remain bent but move between 4-8 inches), 30 seconds in the “mid-range” (opposing arms and legs still bent but move between 8-14 inches), and 30 seconds in the “long-range” (opposing arms and legs will be fully extended) twice. 

Minutes 3-4: At the same resistance, climb in the mid-range for 20 seconds, then sprint (as fast as you can climb) for 10 seconds. Repeat twice.

Minutes 4-5: While gradually slowing your tempo, climb within the mid to long range to completion.

Alternatively, incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your vertical climber workout by switching between periods of intense climbing and short rest intervals for an effective and efficient cardio session.

Beginner Friendly Total Body AMRAP Climber Circuit

Create a full-body workout circuit by combining the vertical climber with bodyweight exercises, setting a timer for 10, 15, or 20 minutes, depending on your fitness level, and aiming for as many rounds as you can do in that time frame using safe, proper form.

  • 2-minute climb
  • 10 push-ups (modification: wall push-ups)
  • 10 walking lunges
  • 20 bicycle crunches

Climber Workout Warm-Up Circuit

Incorporate the vertical climber into your activation to prepare for heavy lifting, or use this circuit as a stand-alone cardio session. The purpose is to work on your muscular weakness and prepare your body for the lifting session ahead. “The goal is to get familiar with climbing motion and pay attention to how step height impacts your feet climbed. Bigger step height with quick return equals more feet climbed,” says Millender.

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  • Perform 100 feet on the climber
  • Loaded suitcase carry for 20 yards on each side 
  • Single leg hip thrust for 10 reps on each side
  • Repeat for a total of 3 to 4 Rounds 

Combining Vertical Climber Workouts with Other Exercises

Integrating vertical climber workouts into a well-rounded fitness routine is the best strategy to gain the benefits of this machine while still working on your strength, flexibility, and mobility. Use the climber for cross-training if you are a runner, or implement it as a warm-up tool for lifting days.

Safety Tips and Precautions

To avoid discomfort and injuries during exercise, it’s essential to pay attention to your form. Some common mistakes to look out for when using vertical climbers include gripping the handles too tightly, starting with the handlebars in the wrong position, and leaning forward too much or extending your spine, which can cause back pain.

People with pre-existing back or heart conditions should seek advice from a healthcare professional before training with a vertical climber as it may aggravate the condition for some people, especially if form isn’t on point, according to Marquez.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How many calories can I burn with a vertical climber workout? 

The number of calories burned using a vertical climber depends on factors such as your weight, intensity, and duration. On average, you can burn between 350-700 calories per hour for a climbing activity.

Can I lose weight with vertical climber workouts? 

You can lose weight with vertical climber workouts. Combine your workouts with a balanced diet, plenty of rest, and de-stressing activities for the best results.

Will vertical climber workouts help me build muscle?

Vertical climbers engage multiple muscle groups, helping you build lean muscle and increase your overall strength. To see the best results, combine climber workouts with hypertrophy-based resistance training and a high-protein diet that includes more calories than you need to maintain weight.



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