Vertical climber machine

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  • #6610

    My climbing gym just moved to a newer fancier facility with a fitness area the size of the old gym and they got all this fancy new equipment including what google tells me is a “vertical climber” it’s apparently like a high resistance ladder.

    My question is, does this have any place in a training program? This go round I’m looking to do some bigger climbs where my training will tilt less in the getting strong hiking legs and more into the getting stronger/faster climbing. Would it make sense later on to shift some ME stair workouts to similar (lighter weight added) vertical climber ME workouts? Or am I just being silly because I want to play with all the new toys?

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    Anonymous on #6656


    Steve and tried one of those magic ladders last year when we went to Virginia Beach to work with the SEAL teams. Man can you get tired fast on those things. But you can say that about any piece of exercise equipment.

    If you are stuck trainning indoors a lot then yes mix up some of your aerobic works with this ladder thingy (it seems like fancy Versaclimber). Being quadrupedal its going to place a much bigger demand on the heart to supply blood for all for limbs. This is good as that’s what class 3 and 4 climbing in the mountains does too. But I’d start with Z1-2 workouts in your base period. Later it cold be used for ME workouts too.

    Keep in mind though that like all these gym machines, you don’t actually have to lift body weight vertically. Your body stays put and the machine moves under you. So the strength effect is quite different than actually climbing uphill with a heavy pack. This does not mean the Ladder is ineffective but I wouldn’t rely on it 100% for ME unless that was all I had.

    Have fun with your new toy.

    LindsayTroy on #6664

    Thanks, I’d say I get 99% of all Z1-2 workouts outside. I’d rather run in the rain/cold than on the treadmill. But when doing ME workouts, I tend to get stuck with one inside per week (There aren’t really any big hills in Baltimore, so I’m stuck doing one night on the stairmaster and heading out to the mountains for the weekends.

    Would you think it would be more effective to just ARC with a pack or to use one of these vertical climbers if trying to do an ME workout. (my goal is longer alpine rock routes so trying to speed up my climbing more than my hiking fitness)

    Anonymous on #6713


    Great question about how to make the best use of these climbing/mountaineering simulation gym machines like: steep treadmill, stair machine, versa climber, this ladder gizmo, even a treadwall. Many folks are in your situation where they don’t have easy access to big, steep, hills, especially in winter. So, this should help others and that’s what we’re trying to do with this forum. So, THANKS!

    I’ll try not to go to far down the rabbit hole of training theory here, which is hard for me:-)

    All these machines move under you, as opposed to you having to lift your body vertically against gravity. It is true that you do have to lift yourself with each step on the Stairmaster of pull yourself up on the Versa climber or treadwall. But the vertical distance you need to raise your body mass is much smaller than on real ground because the ground is moving under you with these devices.

    This does not mean these machines can’t give a good training effect. You get tired so something is happening.

    But their main training effect is global aerobic endurance. The work you are doing is limited by the overall aerobic capacity of the whole package: The central pumping system (mainly heart) that supplies the oxygen, the vascular delivery system (capillary network in the muscles) that distributes the oxygen and finally the peripheral oxygen utilization system down at the metabolic level in the muscle cells. Hopefully you can see why the term GLOBAL is apt in this case.

    Whichever is the weakest link in this global system is going to be what limits your performance. What we (sport science) have found is that in our sport(s) of ascending steep terrain, often with the added weight of a pack is that the limiter for climbers of ALL types is down at the peripheral (muscle O2 utilization) level.

    To target this limitation we devised what we call Muscular Endurance workouts. The proper name should be LOCAL muscular endurance to reflect that we want these workouts to have a localized effect and not be limited by the global system. I know I’m getting down in the weeds here, but if you understand these concept it will help you understand the bigger picture.

    To create that LOCAL limitation effect you artificially overload the muscles by adding extra mass to your body. This recruits higher force (fast twitch -FT- muscle fibers). Those fibers only get recruited when forces are high (hence the heavy back pack). They also have less endurance qualities than the less powerful (ST) fibers that normally get recruited under lower loading. You are forcing these FT fibers fibers to get called into action and stay in use for long periods. This makes them develop more aerobic qualities and hence get more endurance. If the weight is heavy enough you create the local fatigue without causing the central O2 delivery system become the limitation.

    Still with me? I hope so.

    When using these machines that move under you, it is hard to create that Local muscle overload because you don’t have to do as much work in lifting yourself up against gravity, so these machines revert to a more global limitation.

    That’s why I recommend using these machines more for base aerobic training in Z1-2 and even Z3, for their global training effect. But, if you want to really get the best bang for your time spent with ME workouts you need to work against gravity with a weight that overloads the LOCAL muscular endurance. Local muscular fatigue must be the limitation to get the best effect.

    We have developed special gym based ME workouts that we use with our coached clients and maybe I need to do an article on gym ME workouts for the vertically deprived. But in the meantime: Box Steps will be more effective ME training than these machines.

    Whew: I guess I could have just written that last sentence and given you a prescription. But we suspect that people using our site are not really looking for a recipe.


    s.luedtke on #7498


    Thanks so much for this information as I find myself vertically challenged during the work week. I’d love to see an article on gym specific ME workout recommendations!!



    axjms1 on #8682

    I would love to see an article on gym ME workouts for the vertically deprived. Seems like a lot of us have that issue especially with mid week workouts.

    floresrm on #21979

    Another bump for gym specific ME workouts for days I can’t get out.

    Jared Casper on #21989

    First, let me saw that as far as exercise/sports science goes I’m a complete novice and have learned everything I know from here and the books. That said, as a scientist I believe this statement is misleading:

    “All these machines move under you, as opposed to you having to lift your body vertically against gravity. It is true that you do have to lift yourself with each step on the Stairmaster of pull yourself up on the Versa climber or treadwall. But the vertical distance you need to raise your body mass is much smaller than on real ground because the ground is moving under you with these devices.”

    There is a lot of wrong information about this on the internet. While all these machines are going to be different in the their mechanics and the way they work your body, I think saying that because you aren’t “lifting your body vertically against gravity” means you aren’t doing as much work is misleading. All velocity is relative, and your velocity relative to the surface that is supporting you is the velocity you are moving at. The fact that your body isn’t moving up relative to the floor the machine is sitting on doesn’t matter.

    Consider a tall elevator with a ladder in it. Climb up the ladder with the elevator stationary. Now send the elevator downwards and climb up the ladder at the same velocity it is moving downwards. In the second scenario your body isn’t moving up relative to the ground floor, but you did the same amount of work as you did in the first. Does driving east take less gas than driving west because of Earth’s rotation? Of course not; all velocity is relative.

    Anyway, I’m not saying the training load is going to be the same when using these machines vs. training outside, but the differences do not come because you aren’t moving your body vertically relative to the gym floor. The differences are going to come from things like terrain, wind, non-uniformity of gait/stride, etc. As far as the physics are concerned, you’re doing just as much work on a pack to haul it up 100 steps on a stair treadmill as you are hauling it up an equivalent 100 step staircase. Maybe that’s what Scott was saying initially and I misunderstand, but felt like I wanted to clarify that for posterity. I’m certainly not in a position to dispute his experience and advice, so it’s probably just for academic’s sake in the end.

    jschoombie on #22014

    *BUMP* for the gym specific ME workouts please. I have very limited access to hills mid week.

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