Climb the Ladder–NEW Workout!

by tinareale on November 6, 2012

Now that marathon training is officially kicking off, I made sure to start things off right by heading to the gym.

You thought I was going to say out for a run, didn’t you? Well, I did still run. I just can’t do that outdoors too easily on a Tuesday when the kids don’t have school. I could splurge on a nice double jogging stroller…but I have absolutely zero desire to push around 60-70 pounds of little people while running. Then again, it could turn me into a running beast like this lady. Hmmmm? I still say not worth it.

And that’s how I found myself on the treadmill to bang out 4 miles in no time flat. Well, 4 miles feels like no time flat compared to longer runs and when reading Gone Girl on my Nook.

Notes about this image: A) That book is crazy and I’m ready to end it so I can know how it all plays out. B) I didn’t run 4.52 miles in 17 minutes. I’m not quite that fast. Ha. That would be my cool down walking pace. C) Yes, I’m one of those who can run and read at the same time. Probably not the safest idea considering my clumsy ways, but I live on the edge like that. ha.

After my run, I headed over to the weight area to tackle a full body workout. This week I opted to join up with my Best Body Bootcamp pals and complete a ladder based workout. No worries. I didn’t do a workout that involved dragging myself up a literal ladder. Although, that reminds me that we do now have those Jacob’s Ladder machines at our gym and I still have yet to try one.

Anyway. Ladders. For strength training.

For ladders, you pick ONE exercise and go through multiple sets that gradually increase the number of reps each set while keeping a minimal rest period between sets. For example, you choose a dumbbell bench press for a chest exercise. You will pick ONE weight that generally feels comfortable for the 10-12 rep range (or maybe even slightly lighter than that).

Start with a set of 5 reps. After completing those 5 reps, rest for about 20-30 seconds (the shorter the rest period, the greater the challenge). Then, complete 6 reps of the bench press. Rest for 20-30 seconds. Go for 7 reps. Rest for 20-30 seconds. Continue increasing to 8, 9, and finally 10 reps with the 20-30 seconds rest between each set. You should FEEL it by the 8, 9, and 10 rep range of the workout.

Pick a few exercises for other body parts and complete the same rep scheme for a full ladder workout!

It would go a little something like this:

Ladder Workout

You can incorporate it any number of ways:

  • Full Body – picking one exercise per body part
  • Upper Body – picking 2 exercises for chest, back, shoulders and 1 exercise for biceps and triceps
  • Lower Body – picking 4 to 7 lower body moves
  • Power Training – add a cardio burst with things like burpees
  • Core Work – put a different twist on crunches doing a ladder with 15-20 reps
  • Cardio – use the same premise in a cardio interval workout going from intervals of 1-5 minutes

They provide a great way to bust out of a strength training rut and really push your muscular endurance. Let me know if you give them a try! I know you will be thinking of me regardless as your sore muscles speak to you following this workout.

Your Turn – Have you ever done ladders in strength training.


1 Rachel @RunningRachel November 6, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Woot! Great workout! I have it pinned and will be trying it soon! :)

2 Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food November 6, 2012 at 5:27 pm

LOVE this! I can’t wait to try it! I am always looking for new variations to add to my strength training!

3 Lauren November 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I absolutely LOVED that book. I think I finished it in 5 hours flat. Wow, it’s so so good. Can’t wait until you finish it! Have you got to the second half yet? It’s gets even better. :)

4 [email protected] November 6, 2012 at 7:32 pm

This was the first time I’d done a Ladders workout and I loved it. I’m glad you suggested going a little lighter on weights – it was great.

I can read and run too if I have my Kindle and can make the text super big.

5 Christine @ Love, Life, Surf November 6, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I just finished your ladder workout. My first time doing ladders too and I loved it. Figuring out what weight to use was tricky at first but I think that I figured it out. I can sort of read and run but then after a while it makes me a little dizzy. Plus I can be a little clutzy so I try not to read while I run :-)

6 STUFT Mama November 7, 2012 at 2:17 am

I have yet to do ladders in my strength training. I should. I DID go for a stroller run today though that was not fun. LOL. That treadmill picture is a good one. You should go with it and say you ran that fast. Ha!

7 Tara | Treble in the Kitchen November 7, 2012 at 5:17 am

I am loving the Phase 2 workouts! And congrats on the upcoming marathon :) It should be a great journey to get to that 26.2!!!

8 Miz November 7, 2012 at 5:38 am


9 Angela @ Happy Fit Mama November 7, 2012 at 5:44 am

I saw you pic on IG and I didn’t even notice the time because I was perplexed how anyone can run and read at the same time! :) I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to the option of running on the treadmill or pushing my kiddos in the double stroller. Some days pushing them around makes me feel like a badass mother runner other days I feel like I’m stuck in quick sand and will never be done!

Love ladders!!!!!!!

10 Andrea November 7, 2012 at 6:31 am

I have never done ladders!! I’ve done lots of pyramid workouts for cardio, but never strength training ladders. Trying this out asap!!

11 Laura @ Mommy Run Fast November 7, 2012 at 10:11 am

I’ve never heard of ladders for strength training, although I do use them for running intervals occasionally. Great idea! I’ll have to give this a try. I’m regretting not signing up for BBBC this round, I’m not nearly as motivated on my own. Jumping back in next cycle!

12 Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly's November 7, 2012 at 10:30 am

At first when I read ladders I totally assumed the ladders that the use in bootcamps, love those btw, haha. I think I will have to try these types of workouts!

13 Rachel B - Busy Mama November 7, 2012 at 10:46 am

Oooh I like the idea of ladder strength training. I’ve done something similar but works opposite – start with high reps with a lightish weight and do 15 reps. Then rest 30 seconds, pick a moderate weight and bang out 12 reps. Rest 30 seconds. Pick a heavier weight and do 10 reps.Rest 30 seconds. Pick a super heavy weight and do 8 reps. I think that’s called tempo weight training? Definitely will try a ladder workout, though! Gotta keep things fresh!

14 Adrienne @ Happy Ramblings November 7, 2012 at 11:41 am

I liked doing ladders on Monday, I had never done them before. The isometric holds were good this morning too!

I am also reading that same book, very slowly though. So intrigued though to see how it plays out! I am usually so exhausted by the end of the night that I can’t get through more than a page or two before passing out. Maybe I should try the treadmill/elliptical reading thing sometime.

15 Amanda @ Run Principessa November 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I love ladders! They make me feel so strong. Thanks for introducing me to them! And let’s talk about the running and reading…HOW?! I would drop everything and fall over and it would just be an awful experience!

16 Paige @ Your Trainer Paige November 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Ha! I thought that treadmill/kindle picture was mine at first (well not really) because I thought I was the only one who could do/does that!! And I see you have the newest Kindle! Do you love?

Great ladder workout, girl!

17 Kierston November 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm

No I haven’t but I’d definitely try it!

18 Megan @ Fiterature November 7, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Until Best Body Bootcamp, the only ladders I had completed involved running, basketball court lines and a mean coach with a whistle. I LOVE your version!!! It made me feel so strong, and fatigued my muscles!! <3

19 Sara November 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Kudos on the multi-tasking! I haven’t tried to read on the treadmill in a while, but I usually “read” the television with closed captions, since I always have an audio workout or app in my ears on the cardio machines. ;-) I’m with ya on Girl Gone – when I read it I couldn’t wait to get to the end, just so I would be done with it and wondering what was going to happen!

20 Ali @ WHOLEistically Fit November 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Awesome! What a great way to switch things up in the weight room. Thanks for the idea. :D

21 Katie February 20, 2013 at 10:21 pm

What a great workout idea! I’ll definitely be trying this the next time I do a weight-focused workout. Always looking for new ways to challenge myself.

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