Matt Gemkow, the author of this content section at Select Fitness USA, boasts more than 15 years of fitness experience. He started out in sports and athletic training for many years and has since 2014 transitioned into heavy-weight training and bodybuilding. As a result, he has become one of the most experienced fitness equipment experts out there, and a valuable source of information.
Jacobs Ladder Machine Benefits
Jacobs Ladder is a unique product type and a high-quality American brand providing some serious cardio solutions.
There are numerous benefits of training on a Jacobs Ladder; High intensity, low impact cardio, stability, hand-eye coordination, agility, and other functional body movements. The machine is manually powered, simple to use, and easily transportable.
Let's detail what a Jacobs Ladder is, why you should be interested, and how the benefits stack up against other common cardio machines.
What Is A Jacobs Ladder Exercise Machine?
A Jacobs Ladder machine is a versatile ladder-climbing exercise device that engages your entire body with a high-intensity, low-impact cardio workout, among many other benefits.
Jacobs ladder exercise machines are designed to mimic a bear-crawl style climbing motion up a 40-degree angled ladder.
This design evenly distributes the effort required across the entire body for a fantastic high-intensity cardio workout that is balanced, low impact, and burns calories like a steam engine.
The Jacobs ladder was invented nearly 40 years ago, and the design as changed very little over the decades. The original Jacobs Ladder machine hasn't changed, but they have released future models to meet certain users' needs better.
The Jacobs Ladder X and Jacobs Ladder 2 feature the same ladder-climbing design but with some convenient updates.
Jacobs Ladder Workout Benefits
1. Engage Your Entire Body
Jacobs ladder machines are a great way to train your whole body with one cardio machine, unlike other methods available.
Jacobs ladder products are designed to activate and engage as many muscle groups as possible, as your hands and feet have contact points while ascending the never-ending ladder.
The Jacobs ladder, Jacobs Ladder X, and Jacobs Ladder 2 are unique because of their 40-degree angle ladder-climbing movement, which brings the upper body into the equation compared to a stair climber, which targets primarily the lower body.
You can expect a raging burn in your upper and lower body and commonly forgotten core, stability, and supplemental muscle groups.
2. User Powered and Simple to Use
One of the many benefits of a Jacobs Ladder (except the Jacobs Ladder 2) is that they require no external power source from a cord or outlet.
This means you can place it anywhere in your home, gym, or facility and not worry about plugging it in, tripping over cords, or damaging complex parts.
Each one of Jacobs ladder's products can be used with little to no previous experience.
To use a Jacobs Ladder, attach the waste belt attachment, and start climbing.
There are no buttons, settings, programs, quick start, power up, or any inconveniencies involved with a Jacobs Ladder machine, just serious cardio.
3. Dynamic Speed and Intensity Controlled Hands-Free
Jacobs ladder products are prolifically known for their self-pacing feature.
This adds to the user's cardio experience because the machine will automatically match your pace while you exercise.
The user is always in control, so they are neither underworked nor overworked.
If you want to burn out entirely and go as hard as possible, the machine will follow the lead and allow you to take it up a notch automatically by simply going faster.
This is just the genius behind many of the Jacobs Ladder workout benefits.
4. Low-Impact - Easy on The Joints
All this would go unrecognized if people were to use these machines and experience knee or elbow pain afterward.
As long as you are physically capable of exercising, your joints will have an excellent time training a Jacobs Ladder climbing machine.
The 40-degree angle mentioned above is responsible for the shift in impact on the knees.
If you aren't a fan of stair steppers because they hurt your knees, you will be pleasantly surprised by how easy a ladder-climbing machine is on all your joints.
5. High-Intensity or Steady State Cardio Workouts
Jacobs Ladders are a great way to burn off annoying fat without suffering through a cardio workout.
Take it up to intense speeds and feel the burn with a high-intensity interval training style workout, or keep it slow and climb the ladder for a legit period of time at a steady heart rate.
Both are proven to burn calories and fat effectively, inching you closer to that dream physique.
The cardio experienced with a Jacobs Ladder, while the low impact on your joints, is an amazing way to get your heart rate racing through the use of your full body.
What Muscles Does Jacobs Ladder Work?
Jacobs Ladder machines, firstly, work your heart, lungs, and entire cardiovascular system.
With this in mind, they are also a fantastic full-body workout that will keep your upper body, lower body, and core muscles burning like fire.
More specifically, from top to bottom, with the standard hand-over-hand bear crawl exercise, Jacobs ladder machines will target your triceps, shoulders, back, chest, core and stability muscles, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.
Imagine how this machine involves your whole body as you use your hands and feet to ascend a ladder coming at you endlessly.
These machines can be used for long periods of lower-intensity cardio, or as a HIIT workout, by doing high intensity, a lower amount of time, followed by a period of rest, and repeat for as long as you can withstand.
What muscles does Jacob's ladder work? You may ask. Well, nearly all of them.
Compared to any other cardio machine, a Jacobs Ladder machine is sure to recruit your entire body, heart, and lungs and burn tons of calories and fat while doing so.
Jacobs Ladder Machine Calories Burned
Every Jacobs Ladder machine is also equipped with a digital display to show you how intensely you're training and roughly how many calories you burn while using the machine.
Jacobs Ladder machines, like any other cardio machine, burn a certain amount of calories based solely on how intensely you use the machine.
Another part of the calorie-burning equation is the weight of the person using the Machine.
A 200 lb. person with 20% body fat will burn more calories than a 180 lb. person with 20% body fat because of the lean muscle activity during exercise.
With all this in mind, it's said that an intense Jacobs Ladder workout can burn as much as 1000 calories per hour.
According to a study by the Louisiana State University Kinesiology department, “Users burned calories at a much higher pace with a lower perceived exertion rate when compared with treadmills. Plus, since it’s a low-impact exercise, it’s possible to have a high-energy workout without significant strain on the body.”
How long should You Do Jacobs Ladder?
It depends on your goals, experience, and style of training.
If you’re looking to lose weight with Jacob's ladder, we suggest doing 15-30 minute periods of medium to low intensity, steady state cardio. Do this 3-7 times per week.
You can get dirty with a machine like the Jacobs Ladder if you're an athlete or a more elite-level trainee.
High-intensity bursts of time on the Jacobs Ladder followed by short rest, on repeat, are sure to get your heart rate up to almost max.
Do this cycle for as long as you can, and you will not only shred through calories, you will train in that high heart rate zone which is beneficial for many different reasons.
Here are some more examples of Jacobs Ladder machine workouts that can do the trick and get you started.
Jacobs Ladder Machine Workout:
High-Intensity Endurance and Fat Loss Jacobs Ladder Workout:
- Begin with a 2-minute warm-up to increase your heart rate to about 70% of your maximum heart rate calculated with age.
- Next, maintain a pace that keeps your heart rate at that 70% or your maximum and continue for as long as possible.
- Take note of the duration, and the number of feet climbed according to the digital display on the machine. Monitor your performance over time to measure progress.
High-Intensity Aerobic Fat Loss Jacobs Ladder Workout:
- Begin with a 2-minute warm-up to elevate your heart rate to 70% of your maximum heart rate calculation.
- Climb for 15-20 minutes at a steady pace, ensuring that the speed is such that you do not exceed 80% of your maximum heart rate.
- Afterward, decrease the speed and cool down for 180 seconds.
- Keep track of the duration and the number of feet climbed on the digital display of the machine, and monitor your performance over time to observe the progress of your high-intensity workout.
High-Intensity Interval Training Jacobs Ladder Workout:
- Start with a 120-second warm-up to elevate your heart rate to 70% of your maximum.
- Climb at a fast pace for 120 seconds, then rest for 60 seconds.
- The speed should be something you can maintain for a 120-second duration but still be very challenging.
- Rest periods can be done by stopping or by slowing down.
- Aim to complete 5 sets of intervals.
- Afterwards, decrease the speed and cool down for 180 seconds.
- Keep track of the duration and feet climbed on the digital display
- Monitor your performance over time to observe the progress of your interval training workout routine.
Jacobs Ladder Machine Vs. Treadmill
The Jacobs Ladder machine Vs. the infamous treadmill. Which one is better?
I think there's a clear winner here.
While this is completely subjective to your own opinion, here are a couple of things to consider when approaching either the treadmill or Jacob's Ladder machine when it's time for your cardio exercise.
Treadmills are extremely boring.
If you're a person that wants to prop their phone up and watch a video while walking or running on the treadmill, power to you.
Some people would prefer the more engaging and entertaining of the two machines over the stale and boring “stare at a wall and walk” treadmill.
Jacobs Ladder burns more calories with less perceived effort.
As mentioned above, there is a study done proving that a Jacobs Ladder machine, in terms of burning the most calories for as little perceived effort as possible, trumps the treadmill by landslide.
This doesn't mean the Jacobs Ladder machine is great, and the treadmill sucks (kind of), but logically weighing your options for the best workout leaves us no other way to put it.
Jacobs Ladder Machine Vs. Rowing Machine
Jacobs Ladder machine, and the rowing machine. Two user-powered, low-impact, full-body cardio machines. Which is better?
This is a tough comparison as many of the concepts for each machine are similar, except packaged in a much different unit.
While the rowing machine will save you money and space, there are advantages to be had with a machine such as Jacobs Ladder, depending on your setting and preferences.
Rowing machine exercise is mostly a pulling motion, which is good for the biceps, back, and quads.
The Jacobs ladder climbing machine is more effective for full body, HIIT, or steady-state cardiovascular exercise.
As mentioned above, you will feel the burn in your triceps, shoulders, back, chest, core, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, and commonly neglected stabilization muscles.
It's hard to say whether the rowing machine or the Jacobs Ladder machine is better. This one may come down to your preference.
Ultimately, if you have both to try out, then absolutely try both and see which is best for you.
Is The Jacobs Ladder Machine A Good Workout?
Yes, the Jacobs Ladder machine is great. And you should 100% consider using or purchasing one for yourself, your facility, and your members.
They are a one vs. none type of product.
Jacobs Ladder machines offer effective, low impact, full body, HIIT, or steady state cardio exercise that can shred through calories and burn loads of fat in less time than other cardio.
Jacobs Ladder machines have been around for decades for a reason.
Which Jacobs Ladder is Most Beneficial?
Short Answer: The Jacobs Ladder X
For more. check out: Jacobs Ladder Vs. Jacobs Ladder 2 for a much more in-depth comparison of all the machines.
Overall, the Jacobs Ladder machine has some of the best benefits of any machine. Few options are as versatile, practical, and well-designed as the Jacobs Ladder.
Feel free to check out our full collection of Jacobs Ladder Exercise Machines.
Bonus Read: Jacobs Ladder Vs. Stairmaster