Three types of cardio you’ll hate, but you’ll love the results

November 2, 2013

The mere mention of cardio can send shudders down the spine of the average couch potato, but when real fitness enthusiasts want to get a great workout and incinerate fat, they choose the best equipment available on the market today. Here are three of the toughest, most effective machines and techniques you’ll hate, but you will love the results you’ll get when you use them.

Jacob's Ladder

Used by military institutions, law enforcement and major universities, Jacob's Ladder was still an obscure piece of cardio equipment until “The Biggest Loser” show began featuring it on national TV. Still, few gyms realize the value of this unorthodox piece of machinery, but for those in the know, Jacob's Ladder is worth its weight in gold. Designed with ladder-like rungs Jacob's Ladder is a nonmotorized continuous treadmill slanted at a 40-degree angle that you climb using your upper and lower body at the same time. Just two minutes on this monster calorie burner will turn the average fitness buff’s legs into Jell-O and leave you panting like a dog on a hot summer day. My only advice is to start slow; you’ll be surprised how hard this machine is regardless of your fitness level.

Note - most gyms don’t have this piece of equipment, but you can purchase your own home version for a very reasonable price. It’s self-powered and very economical. The only drawback is that you need a ceiling height of at least 7.5 feet to make it work.


I first saw the VersaClimber in 1985 while watching the movie “Rocky IV” when the Russian - Ivan Drago - used it as part of his futuristic training regimen. I was so curious I had to give it a try and have since developed a love-hate relationship with it because of its impressive results and extreme difficulty. The best way to describe this machine is continuous vertical total body climbing in which your arms, legs, shoulders and abs work at the same time, giving you an incredible cardiovascular burn. It’s kind of like climbing straight up the side of a wall, but on a machine that stands straight up in the middle of the gym.

Note - VersaClimbers are usually only found in college and professional athletic facilities. Some gyms do have them, but if you can’t find one, you can purchase specific models that are designed for various fitness levels to be delivered directly to your home. There is even a seat attachment for people with knee and other injuries.

Battle ropes

The most intense way to get a full-body cardiovascular workout is by using battle ropes. Battle ropes are thick, heavy ropes you hold in each hand, waving them back and forth, and swinging them up and down, causing a rippling effect down the rope and a muscle burn you won’t soon forget. This inexpensive technique is used by professional athletes, UFC fighters and the average gym rat trying to find a fun, productive way to get great results. Ropes can be purchased in different lengths, weights and thickness to accommodate any fitness level and are very economical.

Note - Battle ropes are very inexpensive and take up little to no space. They can be used almost anywhere indoors and out. If your gym doesn’t have them, buy yourself a set and make multiple home workouts that incorporate this simple yet effective technique.

So if you’re looking for a great workout and want to incorporate something different, try the above techniques. You’ll hate doing them but love the results you get from incorporating them into your routine.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

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