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The Right Way to Use a Jacob’s Ladder

This machine deserves a spot in your cardio rotation.

There’s a case to be made for adding a Jacob’s Ladder into your regular cardio rotation. “Because you utilize your entire body, it burns a very high amount of calories per minute in comparison to other cardio machines,” says Amanda Pezzullo, personal training manager at Equinox’s Gold Coast location in Chicago.

Plus, since moving all four limbs at the same time requires stabilization, your core and joint stabilizers (especially in the shoulders) are activated at a higher rate than on most other cardio machines. (A Louisiana State University study found that you can also work out harder with less effort on a Jacob’s Ladder than a treadmill.)

And for those who shy away from the treadmill all together, the ladder offers low-impact cardio. “It is easier on the joints than pounding movements such as running,” says Pezzullo.

When you’re ready to reach for a rung, follow this guide.

Get started.
Set your weight with the reset sensor and your height on the height strap. Next, attach the belt around your waist, get on the machine, and slowly start climbing. Use opposing limb movements, so your right arm reaches up while your left leg is stepping (and vice versa). When you need a break or are ready to end, simply stop climbing and let yourself coast down.

Warm up with it.
The Jacob’s Ladder requires coordination in addition to cardiovascular fitness, so begin by using it for a slow, five-minute warm-up. “This will activate your joints and core muscles to prep you for your regular workout,” says Pezzullo.

Make it a move.
Try incorporating the Jacob’s Ladder into a circuit workout by doing one-minute intervals on the machine between exercises.

Note your progress.
Once you’re comfortable with the machine, use it for your entire cardio session. “Because the Jacobs Ladder measures pace in feet per minute, keep track of your own difficulty level at a particular pace and try to beat it week over week,” Pezzullo recommends. “Think of it as a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most difficult thing you’ve ever done.” Try this challenging interval session designed by Pezzullo.