One of the great challenges of preparing for an MMA contest is finding adequate ways to simulate its intensity outside of active sparring and grappling, where the risk of injury is both elevated and well-documented. This has proven true several times, most recently in light of the much anticipated Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier bout, which is now postponed until 2015.

While mundane exercises like running have their place in the long-term maintenance of fitness, its motions can negatively affect the impact-absorbing areas of the knees, hips, and back, impeding the user’s ability to execute the sharp and explosive movements demanded in MMA. Even when running is performed with intermittent slow and fast speeds, or if the user opts for an elliptical instead, the rigors do not mirror the energy required from using all four limbs to defend oneself in a fight.

For this need to acclimatize to explosive, total-body movement, a number of professional MMA fighters including the former UFC middleweight champion turned One FC Vice President Rich Franklin have embraced the VersaClimber, a vertical climbing machine that combines high intensity with low impact on the body’s most important joints to strengthen postural muscles and improve whole body conditioning.

Through this idyllic combination, the VersaClimber engages the major muscle groups found in the various MMA disciples of grappling, boxing, kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, adding upper body resistance to lower body movement.

Also contrary to the likes of a treadmill—or other cardio equipment found in the confined space of a gym—the device has a notable fluidity to it. The speed and resistance of the machine are reactively dictated by the pace the user sets. Concentration and an elevated breathing rate are not compromised by the painful fiddling of buttons between cycles, nor is there a maximum speed setting. With the freedom of an actual MMA fight, the design allows for unlimited sprinting capabilities.

Burning over 200% more fat and calories over a twenty minute period than a treadmill routine, with an ability to bring the body to its maximum heart rate within sixty seconds, the VersaClimber’s potential for a rigorous workout has attracted other talents including the newest addition to Bellator MMA’s light heavyweight roster, the UFC Hall of Famer Stephen Bonner.

About The Author

Aidan O'Connor
Staff Writer

A native of Maidstone, England, Aidan has been covering MMA in a news or feature capacity since 2010. In addition to writing for The MMA Corner, Aidan also runs the MMAmusing Twitter account and enjoys the sport as an avid enthusiast. A graduate in English and American Studies, he currently works in marketing and public relations.