Thread: Jacob's Ladder

  1. #1
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    Question Jacob's Ladder

    We're in a position to order some sort of "stair mill" and popular opinion amongst fitness retailers is that these are falling out of favour for cheaper, newer "Jacob's Ladders." I've seen the webpage, and I've seen the "The Jacob's Ladder is the best thing in the entire world- buy one or you will burn in eternal hellfire" advertisements...

    I checked these new machines out (just mpegs... I'm at work and haven't been to actually stumble all over one) and they look promising but few people I've talked to have ever used one. I'm wondering if there are any combat challenge folks out there who are training for the upcoming season who might have used both? Anyone involved in the stairclimb competitions switched from one to the other? How about just general firefighter fitness- seems the jacob's ladder is the better workout?

    Can anyone tell me if one is better than the other, or are they both just too good at what they're supposed to do in their own right to compare. Is it apples to apples or is this sort of an apples vs. trout type comparisson?

    Looking forward to your opinions.
    Ian "Eno" McLeod
    Senior Firefighter /EMT-A, A Shift
    HESD / OFD
    "To me, the charm of an encyclopedia is that it knows and I needn't."

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    Thumbs down

    Ian, this is a conditioning machine which stops the hip extension movement at +20-30 degrees, involves partial weight bearing, altered flexion mechanics to drive the climbing action and it operates at a snails pace.

    Personally they can keep it.

    Watch the climbing mechanics of the guy in the red shorts on the far side.

As soon as the guy places his hand on the next rung, his lats press down into the bar, locking the ribs and thoracolumbar fascia on that side. Thats not good. Then as he pushes down into the rung, his hip doesn't move into anything close to hip neutral, never mind extension. Also, watch his left humerus and scapula. Both move together as the arm drops into a more flexed position.
They're doing this to compensate for poor mechanics.
    Now we could say that (A)the guy is just plain clumsy and they could have done a beter job of using a model who exhibits some kind of athletic quality or (B) it's the piece of equipment that's forcing his body to move in that manner.

    I vote for B.

    As for the girl,they could at least have a model that can coordinate opposite arm/leg action as she climbs.

    So, lets tally it up:

    1. ROM stops at +20-30 degrees, reinforcing hip flexor contractures. Continued overpatterning of the hip flexors in this manner will lead to Tight Hip flexors and an anteriorly rotated pelvis which will lead to back pain
    2. 40 degree angle of machine = partial weight bearing. Break out the recumbent bikes, much cheaper.

    3. Hyperactivity and preferential recruitment of QL in hip flexion mechanics. Hyperactivity in a muscle is a bad thing which leads to an overuse pattern. See #1.
    4. Slow movement speed. ie one step per leg every 1.25 seconds. Train slow, be slow!
    5. Increased recruitment of lats and lateral scapular border muscles to lock the humerus and scapular motion together. Hi impingement, posterior capsule restrictions in the shoulder, here we come.
Know a good physical're going to need one.
    6. Motion created much like the way an amphibian moves, lateral flexion mechanics drive hip flexion and foot placement, Do we move like that as humans/firefighters, NOOOOOO... itís extremely movement inefficient. It's great training if you're thinking of retiring to New Mexico and taking up a part time job dressed as a Salamander at Pepe's Bar & Grill.
    7.It just looks slow and awkward. There's no better way to describe it.

    8. It's expensive. You can get a stepmill, for about $1000 less, and is more firefighter specific.

    This exercise piece, could be a real fancy clothes rack or a great revenue source for a rehab clinic.

    As for combat challenge training, nothing beats the specificity of stairs. It's what makes up the course and what you should train on.

    The opinions expressed here are simply my own and do not reflect those of Firehouse.

    Last edited by westchester47; 03-16-2008 at 07:46 PM.

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    Even if you haven't used it it sounds convincing... We're looking at commercial grade step mills and they're about twice as expensive as the ladder... but that one you linked to... do you have experience with that? We're concerned about a couple of things- one is making sure it'll last through our treatment (firefighter proof) and two is the concern we have about warranty (see one).

    That's much, much cheaper than the one we were looking at... As a friend of mine says back home, however... good things aren't cheap and cheap things aren't good.

    So what is your grade / interpretation on the step mill you hyperlinked?

    Thanks again,
    Ian "Eno" McLeod
    Senior Firefighter /EMT-A, A Shift
    HESD / OFD
    "To me, the charm of an encyclopedia is that it knows and I needn't."

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    I haven't used it, and don't plan to. It took me 2:37 to evaluate it and realize that it wasn't for me, or the firefighters and athletes I work with.

    The Stairmaster 7000 Step Mill is what you will find at commercial gyms, and it can take a pounding. It's designed to take a certain amount of foot contacts per hour, a lot more than any firehouse or group of firefighters can give it.

    The one I linked to is a remanufactured one. Obviously if you have the money for a brand new one, then buy new. I agree with your friend back home.

    Most of them will offer a Manufacturer's Warranty of Parts - 3 years, labor and wear items - 1 year, frame - 15 years.

    If it's a remanufactured model then you're looking at 1 Year Parts 1 Year Labor or 6 Months Full Parts & Labor w/1 Yr Motor.

    This company offers remanufactured one with a lifetime warranty.

    Last edited by westchester47; 03-16-2008 at 10:03 PM.

  5. #5
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    Pleasanton, CA

    Default Step Mill Training

    I agree with Westchester. I like the Stairmaster 7000 Step Mill.

    Dr. jen

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