The Best Piece of Gym Equipment You're Not Using
It gets less love than the treadmill but can do more for your body.
I’m almost certain you’ve seen the VersaClimber (or maybe it’s the Power Tower) in your gym. In mine, it’s situated right next to a row of treadmills…on the second floor, in the back left corner.
In the nine years I’ve been a member at Equinox, I’ve only seen one or two people on that thing. (Admittedly, I’ve only used it a handful of times.) Weird, considering a few minutes of ascending on the 75-degree vertical beam while clinging to its handles and strapped onto its foot pedals can help boost your strength and get your heart pumping.
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“The VersaClimber is a great piece of cardiovascular equipment that works the upper extremity as well as the lower extremity,” explains celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, director of strength and endurance training for the Los Angeles Lakers. “It can be used as a warm-up, a steady state cardio tool, or for HIIT training.”
Plus, this low-impact machine pulls your entire body into the toning party—legs, butt, core, arms, back, and shoulders—while torching crazy calories. Research from Washington State University found that folks who engaged in simulated vertical climbing experienced s higher max heart rate than their counterparts who slogged away on the treadmill or the rower; their V02 max was greater too. In other words, it’s time to stop ignoring the VersaClimber.
Hopping onto a new piece of equipment can be extremely intimidating, so start slow. “The machine works in a cross-crawl pattern, when the left arm is up the right leg is up and vice-versa,” explains Peterson, who uses the VersaClimber with many of his clients, including Kate Beckinsale. “Start with relatively short strides, increasing stride length and resistance, to suit your workout goals and fitness level.”
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Next time you’re at the gym, try using the VersaClimber in your next workout. Peterson recommends adding one-minute intervals into your training as a "station" at first. Once you get comfy and your movements are fluid, aim to complete this beginner cardio blaster from Peterson twice a week: Shoot for 10, 15, or 20 minutes, depending on your current fitness, with 10-second bursts of speed and power at the end of every minute, and build from there.
“It’s definitely a challenging tool, so give yourself some time to master it,” notes Peterson. “It’s not always love at first workout, but the results are pretty spectacular.”