HIIT The Versa Climber

With detailed instructions to really make it burn

HIIT The Versa Climber
It’s a Sunday afternoon, and I opted to stay in and not train today. But true to form, Sunday is a great day to complete other work such as get organized with food preparation for the week, write down daily goals, spruce up training routines and make sure the gym bag is ready to go for the week.

My To Do Lists


I am working diligently on my online consulting and coaching business, checking in with my current clients and taking on a few more as well. The greatest part about this kind of work is that I am able to work with women from around the world.


I have been in the gym everyday this past week, and that is also why I decided to take today off completely. I have not yet determined how I will proceed with my weight training program, as I am making some decisions regarding the amount of muscle I want to keep or not to keep. I am, also, contemplating what show I will do next. Hopefully, I can make some definitive plans this coming week, and I will surely let you know when I have made those decisions.


This past week I ventured into a new realm of cardio. As I mentioned previously, it is imperative to step outside of what is comfortable and try something new. Minimally, you can try a new machine, do a longer duration, add an extra session or go outside for a run. Just do something you don’t normally do. You’ll be amazed how your body responds.

You may be aware that I am a huge advocate of HIIT for cardio, because of its superior results regarding body fat loss. HIIT burns more calories all through the entire day as opposed to just during the actual cardio session itself. Hence, it has been my go-to choice for several years.

After reviewing my own “To Do” list, I noticed that even when going at 100% on the spinning bike, as I had been doing predominately for my prep for my last two shows, I noticed that there was some adaptation. Meaning, it wasn’t as challenging per interval. There was a time when I thought for sure I would have a heart attack doing HIIT on a bike. This is no longer the case, and there is only so much resistance you can add until you can no longer push the pedals, nor could I really go faster. So it is time for a change!

We got a new piece of equipment in the gym, considered by many to be the ULTIMATE in torture, the Versa Climber! I have a video clip of me doing it here in this blog. Now let me preface this by saying that this was only my second time attempting to use this piece of equipment. You will actually witness me “discover” how to use the Versa Climber and learn rather quickly what positions work which areas the most. That may add some value should you decide to try this yourself.


Foot Placement Options

There are straps, so you may determine just how much control you would like in the workout. Strap the band tightly around your shoe and you will stay right in place. Keep it a bit looser, and you have the freedom to adjust your foot placement throughout the session.

A. Dead Center: Equal distribution of work if your remain in an upright stance. Targets the glutes, hamstrings, quads, hip flexors and calves (to a lesser degree). The variation here could be depth of step, which we will cover shortly.

B. Ball of Foot Dead Center: Muscles primarily targeted are the quads. The glutes and hamstrings to a lesser degree, but adds some calf work, because there is a slight elevation onto the toe.

C. Heel of Foot Dead Center: This will engage the hamstrings and glutes much more. The quads too, but to a lesser degree, and almost takes the calf work out completely.

Lower Body Positioning Options

A. Shorter steps are great for new users, getting a feel for the machine and decreasing the difficulty and intensity. It does hit the quads or glutes depending on where your feet are placed. Just a less intense work overall.

B. Deeper steps used the entire leg. Targeting glutes, quads, hamstrings and hip flexors. And it’s work! Glute Alert: Sit back on the machine for the ULTIMATE in Glute work!

C. Calves could be targeted by using a looser strap on the footpad and by adding a short session of semi calf raises through the warm-up, cool down and through out the slower portions of the interval training. This is optional, but I thought I’d mention it. Though I am sure there are other ways to work calves more effectively on other equipment.

Upper Body Positioning Options

Adjustable handlebars allow for a full range of upper body motion and work. The higher the bars are placed, the more intensely you will work your entire upper body. The lower the handlebars, the less the upper body works. As you see in my video, I lowered the bars to decrease the intensity for now.

Hand Positioning

A. Pronated Grip (overhand grip). I felt my lats, chest, delts, biceps and triceps, to a lesser degree.

B. Supinated Grip (underhand grip). My biceps came into play much more, which alleviated the amount of work from my lats, though they still were used. Also, by focusing on which body part you want to hit, you simply engage that muscle group to take over as the others fatigue. My lats were still working the entire time, but I noticed if I was pushing up, I could focus on my anterior delts more effectively and upper chest to a degree.

In summary, there are many variations and ways to effectively use this piece of equipment. Depending on where you place your feet and hands, the height of handles, the depth of steps taken and positioning of the lower body, you can vary the session. These are all some of the variables that I discovered after only two uses, so I am sure there is much more to learn.

I highly recommend this for another reason. I felt no joint discomfort, as there is no added pressure on the joints. That makes it a great choice for many.

I do apologize that the video was shot vertically, next time I will shoot horizontally. My mistake entirely! Also, the video does show my warm-up portion, as well as my learning curve as I was figuring out how it all worked, so I could share it with you. When trying the unknown, that’s the best you can do. Even if you are not sure, you simply must try and discover for yourself.

Everlast Interval Training Round Timer

HIIT The Versa ClimberI wear it no matter what machine I am using for HIIT. I do so, because it is preset for my intervals—it keeps track of the time in between the intervals and gives me a warning notification with a vibration and a buzz 30 seconds before the high intensity portion of the interval begins. That way I don’t have to stare at the clock on the machine, and I can hear it over my music.

My Conclusion…The Versa Climber is KING!

Well, first it is a new piece of equipment. So it’s KING for now. lol The message is that it’s important to change cardio equipment frequently, so that you get the full benefit of that machine. As I mentioned, the body adapts so quickly to the demands imposed upon it. And this machine uses your full body. Additionally, there is no momentum. Just pure raw WORK!

Let’s just say I dropped 3 lbs overnight after using this machine. That’ll give you a sense of how much I sweated.

Current HIIT Schedule

I am currently doing 3 days a week with 8 intervals. I go at 100% (max effort) for 15-20 seconds, then recover for 45 seconds OR 1:30 seconds at about half that intensity. This varies, but it is one or the other. And, make sure you always warm-up and cool down for every session, as you see in the video.

Ready to Try?

Beginner HIIT Session
5 min Warm-up
6 Intervals
– Start with 1 minute going at 50% of your maximum intensity
– Once the minute is complete, go for 15 seconds at 100% intensity. Then, reduce speed and perform another 1 minute at 50 % of your maximum intensity.
– Do this for a total of 5 more rounds.
5 min Cool Down. Bringing heart rate to at least 110 BPM before getting off of the machine.

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HIIT The Versa Climber

Ava Cowan is an IFBB Figure Professional, a CPTS® and full time online coach and consultant for women of all fitness levels.

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