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The Complete Guide to the Jacobs Ladder Machine

The Complete Guide to the Jacobs Ladder Machine


The Ultimate Guide to the Jacobs Ladder

In this article we're going to discuss everything you need to know about the Jacobs Ladder Exercise Machine.  From benefits to workout routines, and all the advantages of training on this, we discuss it all.


Table of Contents

(Jump to your Question)

What is a Jacobs Ladder Machine?

Benefits of the Jacobs Ladder

What Muscles does Climbing the Jacobs Ladder work?

How to Use a Jacobs Ladder Machine?

Is the Jacobs Ladder Machine better than a Treadmill or Running?

Add to your Workout Rotation

Jacobs Ladder Positions and Workout Drills

Jacobs Ladder World Record and Challenges

Placing the Jacobs Ladder in your Gym or Home Gym

Does the Jacobs Ladder Machine come Fully Assembled?

What is the Lead time to Receive a Jacobs Ladder?

The Jacobs Ladder (Commercial)

The Jacobs Ladder 2 (Residential)

The Jacobs Ladder X

Conclusion from Competitors Outlet



What is a Jacobs Ladder Machine?

Simply put, the Jacobs Ladder machine is a ladder style treadmill where users can bearcrawl or ladder climb for strength and endurance training. 

The Jacobs Ladder, the Jacobs Ladder 2, and the Jacobs Ladder X are all effective cardiovascular climbing exercise machines.  Designed for fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and professionals looking to level up their workouts. 

The Jacobs Ladder offers this intense ladder workout with minimal impact for both aerobic and anaerobic fitness routines. This means you can do both Endurance Training or High Intensity interval Training, and not worry about impacting joints and tendons.

Users reach higher levels of energy expenditure, with a lower VO2 max. In other words, Jacobs Ladder users burned more calories in a shorter amount of time, and had a lower rate of perceived exertion (the workout felt easier to users than the calories burned).

Numerous studies have found that users training on a Jacobs Ladder have a “scientifically superior workout” compared to traditional treadmills, and other general cardio machines.

It's no wonder this machine is used by the military, fire/police departments, college athletics, pro athletics, and health clubs all over the U.S. 

Made in the US.  





Jacobs Ladder Exercise Benefits by Competitors Outlet


The Benefits of the Jacobs Ladder Machine 

The unique design of Jacobs Ladder places the body on a 40 degree angle in a posture akin to climbing. This puts the spine in a neutral position that takes the stress off the lower back and engages the upper body, lower body, and core muscle groups during a workout.  

Workout Benefits

With less impact on your joints, users can perform at high intensity levels, in a safe manner.  Using the Jacobs Ladder, users will experience:

  • Total Body Engagement - Four muscle groups are involved with this bear crawl type motion, Upper Body, Lower Body, Hip Abductors, and Core
  • An Efficient Workout - Cardiovascular and Strength building combined, means you'll have nothing left in the tank after working out with the Jacobs Ladder
  • A Shorter Workout - The Jacobs Ladder burns more calories than in a shorter amount of time compared to other general cardio machines.
  • Self-Powered - The user has full control of the intensity and braking of the Jacobs Ladder since it is operated by the user's fitness output, not an electrical motor.  
  • A Low Joint Impact Workout - You can have a high intensity workout without putting significant strain on your joints and tendons. 

    The act of climbing has very little impact on the hips, knee, and ankle joints that are susceptible to injury that would normally result from the impact of running outside or even on a treadmill. 

    It's common for beginners to see elevated heart rates from a 3-5 minute workout session on a Jacobs Ladder.  Try to keep it at 70% when warming up or starting off with this machine.

    As your endurance and ladder climbing skills improve, users quickly experience the intensity in their muscles and core, not in their joints, maximizing a higher calorie burn during a single session.

    Simple to Use

    When it comes to the controls, the Jacobs Ladder is a self-powered machine that allows the user to self pace their workouts.  There are no up or down buttons to press controlling the speed or resistance. Only a waist belt that is connected to the machine that is worn by the user, is needed.

    It's very intuitive to use the Jacobs Ladder.  The tension of the cable connected to the waistbelt will immediately respond to the pace you want to exercise at.  The higher on the Jacobs Ladder the user climbs, the faster the ladder rungs will rotate.  The lower on the Jacobs Ladder Machine, the ladder rungs will rotate slower.  

    And there's no lag when you speed up or slow down, giving a user complete control over the intensity of their workout.  





    What Muscles does Climbing the Jacobs Ladder work? 

    Unless you’re an accomplished climber, odds are the Jacobs Ladder will be a unique experience for you. What’s great about the Jacobs Ladder is you are forced to use the entire body as a single unit, utilizing hand eye coordination, and ensuring the body is balancing it’s own body weight stable on the machine. Any user will quickly feel the intense total body engagement once the hand-over-hand, and feet-stepping movement is performed climbing on the ladder. Below is a comprehensive list of the muscles worked.


    Core Muscles
    Abductor Muscles
    • Abs, Obliques, Lower Back
    • Groin, Glutes, Hip flexors
    Lower Body Muscles
    Upper Body Muscles
    • Quads, Hamstrings, Outer Thighs, Calves
    • Shoulders, Triceps, Chest, and a little bit of Bicep work


    The Jacobs Ladder is unlike any cardio machine on the market today. Running, rowing, cycling, stepping—these are repetitive movements we’ve become accustomed to inside the gym. But a treadmill style climbing ladder? Not so much 


    Key Features of Jacobs Ladder by Competitors Outlet



    How to use a Jacobs Ladder Gym Machine

    The Jacobs Ladder machines offer a very user-personalized intense workout and once you read these steps, using the Jacobs Ladder Machine will be a breeze.


    The Jacobs Ladder Display Console and Cardio Stats

    The display console offers elapsed time, total feet climbed, heart rate, feet per minute, and calories burned. A popular challenge among Jacobs Ladder loyalists is challenging yourself to a time trial workout by measuring the feet climbed inside a set time frame.

    Jacobs Ladder Console Settings by Competitors Outlet


    Waist Belt - Starting and Stopping

    Comfortably snap the belt to your waist, and then adjust for height. Ensure the Jacobs Ladder logo is at your back right hip bone. 

    Jacobs Ladder Exercise Waistbelt by Competitors Outlet

    The Jacobs Ladder machine works on cable tension that is tethered from the machine to the waist belt worn by the user. The waist belt is essential to the level of intensity that the user experiences climbing on the machine. There is also a heart strap monitor in the waist belt.


    Controlling the Jacobs Ladder

    Once the waistbelt is adjusted, the user can climb as fast or as slow as desired. 

    A treadmill has a 5 -10 second ramp up or slow down, but with the Jacobs Ladder there is no time wasted.  Speeding up or slowing down is immediate at the user’s preferred climbing pace.  

    The higher up on the ladder the user climbs, the tighter the waistbelt cable tension becomes, and the faster the ladder rungs circulates.  The lower the user climbs, means the cable has less tension, so the slower the climbing rungs will circulate. This allows the user to easily steady themselves until they can master speeding up, slowing down, or stopping at will, with full control during their workout. 

    With the Jacobs Ladder X, the latest model, they've redesigned the controlling mechanism and no waist belt is required on this model.

    To assume proper posture all the Jacobs Ladder Machines, the user’s back should be flat and neutral with the user's chest facing up.  Each foot step should be light and on the balls of the feet, while the hands can loosley grasp the ladder rungs.  As the user climbs, the hands will rotate with a hand-over-hand movement.


    Beginning your Jacobs Ladder workout

    As with anything new, a slow and steady pace is recommended for new climbers. Climb near the bottom of the Jacobs Ladder until the “hand over hand” and “ladder rung step coordination” sets in.

    There are hand rails to the side of the machine that offers users stability until the body naturally becomes coordinated to climb. Since the Jacobs Ladder is self powered, once you stop climbing, the machine stops circulating the rungs. 


    How long should I use the Jacobs Ladder

    Beginners are recommended to start slow from the bottom (50-60 ft/min) for the first 2-3 minutes. It’s common for new climber’s to climb too fast at the start of their workout. This ultimately spikes their heart rate, ending their workout too soon with a sudden bout of fatigue, also known as the cardio wall. Slow and steady builds skill and endurance. As the body tolerates the self paced, climbing motion, try 1 minute intervals climbing towards the top. Very quickly the speed will challenge your coordination and the intensity will be felt in your muscles, however not your joints.




    Is the Jacobs Ladder better than a Treadmill or Running? 

    Professional athletes and amateur joggers have known the benefits of running for years. And while it can be a great workout, there are disadvantages with long term lower body joint impact that can stop you in your tracks.  The lower back, knee, ankles joints, and anything related to the bones in your feet are up for injury with a Treadmill or Running.

    Jacobs Ladder Fitness Equipment Comparison Chart Competitors Outlet


    Compared to running, the great thing about the Jacobs Ladder Exercise Machines is the reduction of lower body impact and the increase of upper body exertion.  Not only does the hand over hand climbing motion on the Jacobs Ladder torch and burn calories at a highly efficient rate, the user is engaging more muscle groups by recruiting the core and stabilizer muscles, simultaneously keeping the user balanced on the machine.

    A research study done at Louisiana State University, found that the Jacobs Ladder gets you to work out harder, build strength with less effort, and eliminates the joint and bone impact that occurs in many forms of exercise such as running. 

    Jacobs Ladder 30 Minute Calorie Burn compared to Other Activities


    And specifically when it comes to treadmills, the Jacobs Ladder is a safer, more effective and enjoyable workout! 

    “[The Jacobs Ladder] is a phenomenal training tool for anybody,” says Joe Juraszek, a strength and conditioning coach with roughly 20 years of experience in the NFL. Maybe this is why the Jacobs Ladder is used by pro teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Indians, and also by elite military units like the Navy SEALS and Army Rangers. 




    Adding the Jacobs Ladder to your Gym Workout Rotation

    If you already have a dedicated workout routine, then there are a number of ways to incorporate the Jacobs Ladder.  Just like any other cardio machine, the Jacobs Ladder can be the main event for a serious full-body cardio workout, or a warm-up precursor to another activity.

    Some of the most popular ways of using the Jacobs Ladder, is using the machine as part of a high intensity interval training program, or as Brett Hickey, Owner of Buffalo's Ultimate Fitness Facility (BUFF), says to use it “as a Finisher- when someone is totally spent from an hour or two workout, really challenge them to climb 100 rungs within a minute or 70 rungs at  2 minutes. This will make sure you have nothing left in the tank”.



    Jacobs Ladder Climbing Positions and Workout Drills

    We all have a love hate relationship with cardio exercise. As monotony sets in after weeks or months of the same repetitive cardio motion, sometimes breaking up the cycling, running, or rowing is necessary. To crush those cardio plateaus, the Jacobs Ladder is an oustanding solution.  If you’re lucky enough to have one in your local gym or own one at-home, some of the workouts below can help break the monotony with an intense aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, burning more calories - all the while giving your joints a well deserved break.

    A good beginner speed on the Jacobs Ladder is to hit is 50 feet per minute. Once you feel more comfortable, try to increase your speed by climbing a little higher up the ladder incrementally and slowly. 

    As you become an experience user, time trials are a great way to challenge yourself to see how fast you can hit 500 feet, or 100 feet of climbing, displayed on the console.  If you’re looking for beginner to advanced Jacobs Ladder workouts, tryout some of the climbing methods and workout drills below.

    7 Climbing Positions of the Jacobs Ladder

    • Assisted Step with hands on the Side Rails 
    • Single Step with Hand-over-Hand Climbing on the ladder
    • Double Step by using every other Rung
    • Spider Climb similar to a Spider Man Push Up
    • Running like pushing a Sled Drive
    • Left Side Steps with hands on Rails
    • Right Side Steps with hands on Rails


    6 Jacobs Ladder Workouts

    High Intensity Endurance Workout Drills

    • Go through a 2-minute warm-up getting heart rate up to 70% of maximum.
    • Pick a speed that keeps your heart rate at 70% and go for as long as you can.
    • Record time and feet climbed. Keep track of performance over time to see improvement.

    High Intensity Aerobic Workout Drills

    • Go through a 2-minute warm-up getting heart rate up to 70% of maximum.
    • Climb for 15-20 minutes at a constant speed. (Speed should be determined by the rate that you can hold while not exceeding 80% of maximum.)
    • Reduce speed and cool down for 3 minutes.
    • Record time and feet climbed. Keep track of performance over time to see improvement in high intensity workout.

    Weight Loss Endurance Training

    • Go through a 2-minute warm-up getting heart rate up to 70% of maximum.
    • Pick a speed that keeps your heart rate at 70% and go for as long as you can.
    • Record time and feet climbed. Keep track of performance over time to see improvement.

    Weight Loss Aerobic Training

    • Go through a 2-minute warm-up getting heart rate up to 70% of maximum.
    • Climb for 15-20 minutes at a constant speed. (Speed should be determined by the rate that you can hold while not exceeding 80% of maximum.)
    • Reduce speed and cool down for 3 minutes.
    • Record time and feet climbed. Keep track of performance over time to see improvement.

    Interval Training Workout 1 (Anaerobic)

    Intent of the interval is to develop Type IIB (fast twitch) muscle fiber.

    • Go through a 2-minute warm-up getting heart rate up to 70% of maximum.
    • 4-minute interval at 85-90 % max heart rate or 90-110 ft/min.
    • 4-minute rest.
    • Repeat. (Target: 4 sets)
    • Keep track of performance over time to see improvement.

    Interval Training Workout 2 (Anaerobic)

    Intent of the interval is to develop Type IIB (fast twitch) muscle fiber.

    • Go through a 2-minute warm-up getting heart rate up to 70% of maximum.
    • Climb rapidly for 2-minute intervals and rest for 1 minute intervals. Speed should be a pace that you can maintain for a 2-minute duration.
    • Rest periods can be a full stop or a slower speed.
    • Work towards completing 5 sets of intervals.
    • Reduce speed and cool down for 3 minutes.
    • Record time and feet climbed. Keep track of performance over time to see improvement in interval training workout.

    Jacobs Ladder Rehabilitation Workouts

    Although many facilities use a Jacobs Ladder Machine and it's an effective tool in the rehabilitation of lower back and lower body injuries, you should always consult your physician or physical therapist before using this.




    Jacobs Ladder Exercise Record and Challenges

    The Mount Everest Jacob’s Ladder challenge: 

    To complete the challenge, users cumulatively climb 29,035 feet on the Jacob’s Ladder machine.  This distance is the same distance as climbing Mount Everest. Need some inspiration? David Goggins, bested himself by destroying the Mount Everest challenge in an 8 hour climb. 




    Placing the Jacobs Ladder in your Gym or Home Gym

    When placing a Jacobs Ladder, you want to know the following:

    1. Ceiling Clearance and Height need to be at least 8' tall, (check out the Spec Chart for each model)
    2. Are there any staircases or small steps towards the final Jacobs Ladder placement? Every step will need to be navigated.
    3. Are there any sharp hallway or staircase turns to the final Jacobs Ladder placement?
    4. Walk the path from entry of your gym or home, to the final location you want to place the unit 


    For Functional Training

    1. The Jacobs Ladder can integrate with highly effective workouts that are part of functional training.
    2. The Jacob Ladder is perfect as a warm-up or as one of the stations in the peripheral training.
    3. After Rowing Machines, the Jacobs Ladder is the second best selling cardio machine in the world for functional training zones

    For Gym and Fitness Clubs 

    1. High user turnover - clients and users typically change places every 10 minutes (on average).  As a result, the unit is not occupied by the hour; like with the use of treadmills or bike training.
    2. Short-term exercise makes it a great machine for people who do not have a time to stay in the clubs two hours a day. 
    3. With the Jacobs Ladder equipment, there's no electricity. So not only can you place the unit anywhere, your electricity bills will not increase.

    For Home Gyms

    The Jacobs Ladder 2 Residential version has a full commercial warranty, but is designed specifically as a home unit. To make this unit more friendly to homes or studio spaces, compared to the Jacobs Ladder Commercial version, the JL2 has a reduced width to better fit through interior door frames inside the home.

    For Uniformed Services

    In many countries around the world, there are regularly held climbing championship for uniformed services using Jacobs Ladder cardio machine, including but not limited to, fire stations, police training, miltary base camps, and more. 

    For Weight Loss

    The Jacobs Ladder Machine gained massive US popularity from the TV weight loss show - "The Biggest Loser".  This gave the Jacobs Ladder Machine national exposure and popularity.  

    People quickly learned that this form of exercise burned the most fat out of all the cardio machines out there.  For the best weight loss results, you'll want to follow an anaerobic workout (High Intensity Interval Training).  

    Jacobs Ladder Exercise Biggest Loser Competitors Outlet

    For Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy

    Consult your physician before you attempt to work out on this machine with the intent of rehabilitation and physical therapy training. 

    With the Jacobs Ladder as a unique climbing treadmill, the 40° angle takes the stress off of the lower back, making this equipment an exceptionally well designed conditioning machine. You cannot achieve this on any other cardio machine.  



    Does Jacobs Ladder come fully assembled? 

    Competitors Outlet is proud to offer free shipping and liftgate for all Jacobs Ladder products. The Jacobs Ladder arrives fully assembled fresh from our Niagra Falls, NY factory. Simply remove the Jacobs Ladder from the custom made pallet upon delivery and roll it into your facility or home gym. Competitors Outlet can offer white glove service should you need assistance, further from the free curbside delivery that is included with any Jacobs Ladder purchase from CompetitorsOutlet.com.


    What is the Lead Time to receive the Jacobs Ladder? 

    The Jacobs Ladder is a made-to-order machine, direct from the factory in Niagra Falls, NY - USA, baby! Lead times are normally 6-8 weeks or sooner depending on the time of year and current demand. 

    Please contact Hello@CompetitorsOutlet.com to check the fastest lead times available!





    The Original Jacobs Ladder

    The Best Jacobs Ladder for a Commercial Facility

    The Jacobs Ladder Original Exercise Machine

    Jacobs Ladder Machine Price

    The Original Jacobs Ladder is the Flagship Model of Climbing Exercise Machines.

    Originally made for only for commercial use, if you've ever seen this machine at the gym or trained on this at a facility, this is most likely the model you've used.

    What we love about the Jacobs Ladder:

    • It has a long warranty that gives the most value for facilities with high usage
    • It can be placed anywhere in your facilities because it is self-powered
    • Wide Ladder Rungs compared to the JL2, gives you slightly more space to place your hands and feet.  This allows for individuals more space to try different climbing positions.  Or potentially athletes with wide frames.  Also, isn't more space is always better?


    • Frame - Welded Tubular Steel
    • Length - 76"
    • Width - 31.25"
    • Height - 65.5"
    • Weight - 325 Lbs
    • Rungs - Solid Maple
    • Case - ABS / Polyethylene
    • Power - Self Powered
    • Ceiling Height Requirement - 7.5"
    • Digital Readout - Time Exercised, Calories Burned, Feet per Minute, Total Feet Climbed, Heart Rate
    • Handrails - Side Rails
    • Warranty - 4 Years on Parts and 1 Year on Labor
    • Wheels - Of Course!




    Jacobs Ladder Residential 2

    The Best Climbing Ladder for your Residence or Studio Gym 

    Jacobs Ladder 2
    Jacobs Ladder 2 Machine Price


    What we love about the Jacobs Ladder 2:

    • Most Affordable Climbing Machine of the Jacobs Ladder
    • Width is 27.25", which is thinner than the Commercial Version 31.25", so you can fit this unit into your home or studio space
    • Height and Length are the exact same size of the Commercial, so you have the same workout runway for climbing, at a great value


    We Use it EVERYDAY



    We love it.  Now that it's cold outside, we get to use it in our basement.

    We use it everyday!

    It's an awesome full body workout.


    Bobbie Young

    Verified JL2 Customer Badge



    Jacobs Ladder 2 Customer Photo



    • Frame - Welded Tubular Steel
    • Length - 76"
    • Width - 27.25"
    • Height - 65.5"
    • Weight - 300 Lbs
    • Rungs - Steel Tube with Polyurethane sleeve
    • Case - ABS / Polyethylene
    • Power - 110V
    • Ceiling Height Requirement - 7.5"
    • Digital Readout - Time Exercised, Calories Burned, Feet per Minute, Total Feet Climbed, Heart Rate
    • Handrails - Side Rails
    • Warranty - 2 Years on Parts
    • Wheels - Of Course!




    Jacobs Ladder X

    The Best Climbing Ladder if Budget and Space is not an issue 

    Jacobs Ladder X
    Jacobs Ladder X Machine Price

    The Jacobs Ladder X is the first redesign in over 20 years.

    What we love about the Jacobs Ladder X:

    • A total of 4 handrails for more positions, opening up new Positions for Sled Drive and Stair Climbing
    • Solid Maple Ladder Rungs with UV Cured Acrylic Coating that makes it easy on your hands while providing grip to your feet, so you don't have to worry about slipping off
    • The Digital Readout replaces Heart Rate with Intensity Level, so no waist belt required
    • Self Powered and can be placed anywhere
    • This thing is BIG and BAD!  


    • Frame - Welded Tubular Steel and Laser Cut Steel
    • Length - 80.125"
    • Width - 37.25" with removable cupholders, 30.5" without cupholders
    • Height - 69.5"
    • Weight - 375 Lbs
    • Rungs - 2 Inch Solid Maple with UV Cured Acrylic coating
    • Case - ABS Plastic
    • Power - Self Powered
    • Ceiling Height Requirement - 8.5"
    • Digital Readout - Time Exercised, Calories Burned, Feet per Minute, Total Feet Climbed, Intensity Level (no waist belt needed)
    • Handrails - 4 Handrails now and can perform Standing and Sled Drive
    • Warranty - 4 Years on Parts / 1 Year on Labor
    • Wheels - Of Course!




    Conclusion - Owners Thoughts

    The beautiful thing is that you can't cheat by leaning on anything, like handrails on other cardio machines. So whichever Jacobs Ladder you choose, you are going to supercharge your workouts:

    • Minimal Stress on Joints and Tendons - Since you’re not placing a ton of stress on your joints, it’s much less likely that you will get injured when working out on the ladder
    • Full Body Workout - The Jacobs Ladder is a full body workout, meaning all of your major muscle groups are engaged during one rotation. This makes it especially efficient for those who want to save time
    • You can control your own intensity level - What better way to work out than by making sure you don’t overdo it? Jacobs Ladder allows users to control their own intensity levels so they can go at whatever pace feels right for them that day
    • It's great for Fat Loss - The Jacobs Ladder burns calories and fat like crazy! 650 calories per 30 minutes, compared to a treadmill 128 calories on a treadmill. It also builds lean muscle mass which helps boost metabolism even more, so you'll feel the burn during the workout and the after burn once the workout is over

    If you want a no frills machine that's designed with one thing in mind, which is to get and stay fit, the Original Jacobs Ladder machine is the fitness industry favorite's model.

    If budget and saving space is important for your gym or home gym, the Jacobs Ladder was redesigned with this in mind with the Jacobs Ladder 2.  It's still big, but it's as compact as it can be without sacrificing any of the ladder.

    And, if budget and space is not an issue, than the Jacobs Ladder X is well worth the investment.  The Jacobs Ladder X is our most popular model, since it's the newest redesign in over 20 years and is similarly priced as the Original Jacobs Ladder.

    We'd love to hear what you think, so drop a comment of your knowledge or share your workout experience below.


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