Workout Routines

The Fat-Burning Jacobs Ladder Cardio Circuit

If you're not already using the Jacobs Ladder, you're missing out on one of the best cardio machines around. Here's how to get the most out of it.

by CSCS
Jacobs Ladder
Chris Nicoll
Chris Nicoll
Exercises 7
Equipment Yes

Cardio is a necessary fitness evil—you dont want to do it, but you know it's a must for a healthy heart and lean physique. And instead of getting creative with cardio, most guys throw their hands in the air and submit to the standard prescription of 30 minutes of treadmill walking. It’s not fun, but it’s easy. Eventually, though, this myopic approach will lead to waning consistency. To crush cardio plateaus, we suggest the Jacobs Ladder. If you're lucky enough to have one in your local gym, you can break the monotony while training functionally and burning more calories, all while going easier on your joints. Here's how. 

The Ladder

Also known as the ladder mill, this machine features ladder-like “rungs” on a 40-degree angle, which allow you to “climb” in place. The resistance is controlled by the user, who wears a belt that’s tethered to the machine, rather than some preprogrammed speed setting. Unlike with the treadmill, you’ll stimulate your entire body as you climb on all fours on a steep incline—no muscle group will be unscathed. But what does science say? A 2016 study out of Louisiana State University found that subjects training on the Jacobs Ladder burned more calories than treadmill users—no doubt due to the greater overall muscle engagement—with lower impact on joints. As a bonus, the ladder-mill group reported a lower rate of perceived exertion. That means subjects got a better workout that actually felt easier. That, friends, is the epitome of training efficiency.

Climb This Way

Try these two different Jacobs Ladder routines to burn more body fat.

1. Post-Weights

After your normally scheduled weight room sesh, your body is facing a glycogen deficit. This means, due to a lack of available energy, your body will turn to fat for fuel. So hop on the Jacobs Ladder and knock out a lower-intensity, steady- state cardio routine to tap into your body’s stored blubber. It’s a hell of a lot more fun than walking on a treadmill. Trust us. Climb for 20 to 30 minutes at a pace you can sustain for the entire workout.

2. Circuit Train

If that’s still too boring for you, try mixing the Jacobs Ladder in with an array of other high-octane movements—assuming you have the space and the equipment.

Cardio Blast Repeat the circuit below two or three times.

Exercise 1

Medicine Ball Slam You'll need: Medicine Ball How to
Medicine Ball Slam  thumbnail
-- sets
10 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Jump Squat You'll need: No Equipment How to
Jump squat thumbnail
-- sets
10 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Jacobs Ladder How to
Jacobs Ladder thumbnail
-- sets
1 min. reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Rest How to
4 Elite Training Tips to Burn More Fat thumbnail
-- sets
1 min. reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

Jumping Lunge How to
Jump Lunge Exercise thumbnail
-- sets
5 per side reps
-- rest

Exercise 6

Skaters How to
Skaters thumbnail
-- sets
20 sec. reps
-- rest

Exercise 7

Jacobs Ladder How to
Jacobs Ladder thumbnail
-- sets
1 min. reps
-- rest

Exercise 8

Rest How to
4 Elite Training Tips to Burn More Fat thumbnail
-- sets
1 min. reps
-- rest

Exercise 9

Sprint You'll need: No Equipment How to
Man sprinting on track thumbnail
-- sets
20 sec. reps
-- rest

Exercise 10

Mountain Climber You'll need: Medicine Ball How to
Mountain Climber thumbnail
-- sets
20 sec. reps
-- rest

Exercise 11

Jacobs Ladder How to
Jacobs Ladder thumbnail
-- sets
1 min. reps
-- rest

Exercise 12

Rest How to
4 Elite Training Tips to Burn More Fat thumbnail
-- sets
1 min. reps
-- rest
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