Jacobs Ladder climbers reap tough fitness rewards

Mon Oct 8, 2012 5:01am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jacobs Ladder, a moving, angled, climbing machine, may be named after the Biblical stairway to heaven, but it packs such a challenging workout people have dubbed it the stairway to hell.

Fitness experts say users of the fitness machine, which is a favorite among Army Rangers, Navy Seals, and "The Biggest Loser" television series, reap total body, calorie-busting rewards.

"It's a great and tough cardio piece," said Neal Pire, an exercise physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine. "Picture a step mill that combines the lower and upper body, and you have Jacobs Ladder. Except instead of steps, you have rungs."

Because the user climbs with arms as well as legs more muscles are working and more calories are burned.

"As a rule the more muscle mass you utilize during any activity, the greater the oxygen consumed, which is directly correlated to the calories you consumed," said Pire, president of Inspire Training Systems, in New Jersey. "Unlike stair climbers, you can't hold on to the sides."

Jacobs Ladder was invented by Steve Nichols, a fitness champion who injured his knees and back, according to Bob Palka, president of Jacobs Ladder, LLC.

"He wanted to come up with a good workout that didn't impact back and knees." said Palka, who bought the patent and assets from Nichols in 1994.

"Effectively it's just climbing a ladder," Palka said.   Continued...