Now that professionals are working longer hours than ever before, the home fitness market has exploded in popularity. For decades, treadmills, bikes and stairs have dominated the landscape but in recent times a new kid has appeared on the block.
Vertical climbing machines are marketed as a convenient method of getting in a quick training session from the comfort of your home. However, there is nothing easy about working out on an exercise climber! Below, we take a look at the top brands on the market and help you find the best machine for your needs.
Comparison: Best Vertical Climber Exercise Machines
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What Are Vertical Climbers?
It appears as if the toughest machine in the gym is generally the one you stay away from and for most fitness experts, vertical climbing machines fall into that category. An increasing number of commercial gyms are adding this tall, slim machine because it provides you with an extremely effective, if difficult workout.
Unlike conventional cardio machines which seem to focus on the lower body. Vertical climber exercise machines offer a grueling full body workout. There are foot pedals to support your lower body and hand rails to ensure your upper body doesn’t escape the pain.
What Are The Benefits Of A Vertical Climbing Machine?
Given the full body nature of climbing machines, which mimic rock climbing, it’s no surprise to learn that they burn up to triple the calories of a comparable treadmill workout. Indeed, it is the single most effective piece of cardio equipment available in terms of calorie usage.
The amount of calories you can burn with a climbing machine varies depending on how much you weigh and the level of intensity you train at. If you are fit enough to perform an intense 30 minute session, it could be possible to burn up to 600 calories according to some personal trainers. However, it does appear as if 250-300 calories in 30 minutes is a more realistic scenario.
What Muscles Does A Vertical Climber Work?
Vertical climbers are meant to simulate wall climbing which means it works the muscles of your legs, arms, core and glutes. As you are climbing, each leg must raise your body weight with every upwards action so it’s almost as if you’re doing single legged squats. This also does wonders for your glutes which are given a hard time during the climb. Remember, most of us spend our work day sitting down so our glutes are in serious need of strengthening.
Your upper body doesn’t get spared either as your arms are in constant motion trying to pull your body weight and the back muscles also get an intense workout. Finally, your core is constantly tensed which should help contribute towards your dream of 6-pack abs (so long as your diet is in check).
Don’t forget to change grip sometimes; while an underhand grip is good for back and bicep muscles, an overhand grip engages the shoulder muscles.
Vertical Climber Workout Program
If you elect to try out High Interval Intensity Training (HIIT), the fat burning results could be phenomenal. Just 15 minutes of HIIT is equivalent to 1 hour of steady state cardio and you’ll get the same aerobic capacity benefits from 2 weeks of HIIT as you would from 6-8 weeks of steady state cardio. This is assuming you perform 3 HIIT sessions a week. On top of everything else, you burn more calories after exercising than with traditional cardio.
A sample beginner’s HIIT workout may look something like this:
- 30 seconds at high intensity, 30 seconds recovery x 10 (10 minute session).
- 20 seconds at high intensity, 40 seconds recovery x 10 (10 minute session).
You may need to experiment to find the right work/rest ratio for your current fitness level. The warm up may consist of some bodyweight exercises such as pushups, sit-ups, jumping jacks and arm circles for 15-20 reps or else you can simply climb at a moderate intensity for 5 minutes. When the HIIT session is over, cool down with 5 minutes of low intensity climbing followed by stretching.
If you prefer medium intensity cardio, begin with a 5 minute warm up followed by 20-30 minutes of climbing. The ‘fat burning zone’ is said to be between 60% and 70% of your maximum predicted heart rate (MHR). This is deemed to be the best intensity for fat burning because around 60% of calories burned are fat compared to 45% in the HIIT zone of 80-100% MHR.
However, you still burn more fat in the higher zone because you burn more calories overall. When embarking on steady state cardio, don’t relax and keep the pace low; push yourself towards the 70% MHR and beyond when you become fit enough. Fortunately, it is tough to slack off on climbing machines!
Now that you understand the value of vertical climbers, read on to discover the best brands in the business.
Top 3 Exercise Climber Brands
1 – MaxiClimber
This climber machine is an Amazon.com bestseller and with very good reason. It provides you with a workout of similar quality to a commercial grade machine for a fraction of the price.
It doesn’t bother with fancy gadgetry and gets straight to the point with foot pedals and ergonomic grips to make sure your hands don’t also feel the burn. The lack of added resistance means you have to do all the work.
On the downside, the display unit isn’t the best as it is difficult to see when training and only provides information on calories burned and steps taken. As a result, you need to be creative when training on a MaxiClimber but if you’re keen on getting fitter this shouldn’t be an issue. It is made from a sturdy steel frame and can hold up to 240 pounds safely. This vertical climber also folds up nice and neatly and can be stored under your bed when not in use. There is few, if any, better value for money pieces of fitness equipment.
In terms of Amazon reviews, it has received well over 800 reviews to date with 4 out of 5 consumers awarding it 4 stars or more. Its overall rating of 4.2 stars is also extremely high considering the number of reviews.
2 – Conquer Vertical Climber Fitness Machine
This is deemed to be the big rival of MaxiClimber and it certainly has its fans as it is selling extremely well on Amazon. Despite being a budget option, its frame is made from durable steel and it has a sleek and attractive silver finish.
It is extremely stable when placed on your floor thanks to the four rubber non-slip pads and the ergonomic handles are very comfortable. It ensures you benefit from a high intensity workout at home without placing unnecessary strain on your joints. Like its rival, MaxiClimber, the Conquer climbing machine can be folded and placed in storage.
It is an eminently affordable piece of equipment and from over 200 Amazon reviews, this climber has received an average rating of 3.9 stars with 73% of customers giving it a rating of 4+ stars.
3 – VersaClimber H Models
The VersaClimber H models are specifically designed for consumer use and are different to the machines they sell to gym and health clubs. They are heavier and sturdier than the machines mentioned above and can also be folded up for storage. The aluminum frame allows climbers of up to 350 pounds to use it.
They are set apart from their budget rivals thanks to the enormous amount of programs to choose from while they also have three operating modes and variable step height from 1-20 inches. The display unit enables you to see how fast you’re going, how far you’re traveling along with the amount of calories burned.
Yet there is a big price to pay for all these features. The VersaClimber H models are among the most expensive vertical climbers on the market. There are relatively few Amazon.com reviews but other online reviews suggest customers are happy to pay the price for a fantastic climbing machine that offers a variety of different workout options.
What To Look For In The Best Climbing Machine
Once you’ve made the decision to invest in your health, the key is to get value for money. The majority of exercise climbers provide you with the same functions. They all have hand grips and foot pedals and enable you to get a full body workout.
High-end machines tend to have a detailed display unit which measures heart rate, distance, time etc. Expensive climbers should also allow you to choose between dozens of programs and have a variable step height. However, you can expect to pay handsomely for this privilege. If you just want a vertical climber to give you a good workout, there are plenty of excellent cheaper options such as MaxiClimber.
You need to decide if this is an important issue because budget climbers tend to offer only a basic workout. They don’t generally provide much information on the display unit barring step count and there are no additional programs. If you’re inventive enough you can make the session more challenging by lengthening your steps and increasing the intensity.
If you’re willing to spend a lot extra, you can purchase a vertical climber with variable step height, extra programs and a detailed display. For example, VersaClimber offers 16 programs while SteelClimber has a step height of up to 27 inches.
The last thing you want is to spend hundreds of dollars on a piece of fitness equipment only for it to fall apart within a few weeks. Look for a climber with a steel or aluminum frame as these tend to stand the test of time. SteelClimber is one of the best in the niche as it is made from a solid steel frame and is covered with aluminum tubing.
You also need to take your own body weight into consideration. Budget climbers have a maximum weight limit of 200-250 pounds. If this isn’t enough, you may need to spend extra to purchase a VersaClimber or SteelClimber as they hold 300-350 pounds.
Storage & Assembly
A common issue with home fitness equipment is the amount of space that gets taken up. The manufacturers of climbing machines have taken this into consideration by ensuring their products are easy to store. Look for a vertical climber that doesn’t take up too much space when operating and can be folded up and put away when not in use.
Don’t settle for a climber that forces you to spend a significant amount of time assembling it. Most climbing exercise machines come almost entirely pre-assembled so all you need to do is add the finish touches which shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes in most cases.
It goes without saying that you need some sort of protection in case the climber gets damaged. The standard parts & labor warranty is 1 year but there are a few brands that only offer a 2 month warranty which is certainly too short.
Never ignore the opinions of former and existing customers. The more reviews on sites like Amazon.com the better as far as making a purchasing decision goes. For instance, MaxiClimber has well over 800 reviews and most of them are extremely positive. Try to narrow down your search to vertical climbers with 100+ reviews in and around a 4 star average.
Pros & Cons of Vertical Climbers
- Most climber machines come almost entirely pre-assembled which means you can be up and climbing in 15 minutes or less.
- You can make the exercise more difficult by lengthening your steps and changing the feel and style of the exercise is as simple as lowering or raising the upper handles.
- They take up little space in the home and can be folded for convenient storage.
- Vertical climbers are incredibly quiet which means you can exercise while watching TV.
- This piece of fitness equipment offers you a complete full body workout.
- All you need is 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week over a reasonable period of time to see fitness benefits.
- Most manufacturers offer a 1 year warranty.
- You can purchase a high quality vertical climber for far less than the cost of a year’s gym membership.
- Top of the range models are very expensive.
- Budget models don’t tend to have a detailed display unit so tracking your progress can be difficult.
- Not all users believe it meets their full training needs and some believe the cardio must be supplemented with weight training for best results.
- It is not suitable for carpeted floors as stability could be an issue.
Due to the tendency to work longer hours and commute greater distances to the workplace, it’s difficult for the average person to find the time to exercise. It takes exceptional discipline and dedication to work a full shift, travel to and from work and then make the journey to the gym.
Home fitness equipment offers you the chance to train at home and vertical climbers are arguably the best machines you can purchase. They provide you with a killer full body workout and you only need to dedicate 15-20 minutes of your time, 3 days a week. You can train before work or release some stress when you get home. Either way, a high quality vertical climbing machine is a worthy purchase so use the above information to find the best climber for you.