Top 15 Reasons to Love the ClimbMill
We’ve all been told to stand more throughout the day, get in more steps, park farther from the entrance and take the stairs instead of the elevator, but does stair climbing really make that much of a difference?
Yes, it does, which is why the ClimbMill is one of the most popular pieces of equipment at clubs around the world. While it may not be the first piece of equipment that comes to mind when planning equipment for your new home gym, it should be seriously considered for all the great benefits it offers, many of which are research-backed.
While there are several additional reasons to love the ClimbMill, we have curated a list of our favorites.
1. Get fit in less time
ClimbMill workouts can get you fit in shorter workouts. If you’re short on time to dedicate to exercise, stair climbing is your answer! Sprinkling in short ClimbMill sessions throughout your day can be just as effective as one longer workout.
Even just a few short stair climbing sessions offer impressive boosts to fitness, as shown by an eight-week study in middle-aged adults. Two-minute stair-climbing sessions every weekday were initiated at just one session per day, progressing to three sessions per weekday for weeks five through eight. The stair climbing group improved their fitness levels by almost 10%, an amazing outcome considering that participants accrued less than 30 minutes of exercise per week, and this indicates that stair climbing is incredibly potent at boosting fitness levels.
2. Improve overall health
Stair climbing help to boost the immune system, strengthen the heart, improve the cardiovascular system, fight obesity and more.
You know the feeling. After just a few minutes on the ClimbMill, your heart rate is increasing, your body heat is rising and you’re breathing heavier. It always feels most challenging on the first workout or after taking a long break. Gradually, over time, your heart and lungs will become more efficient and you’ll find you don’t start breathing heavy quite as quickly.
A study recruited 15 women and assigned one group to climb stairs in two-minute sessions. Study participants gradually increased the number of stair climbing sessions from a single session per day (in week one) to five sessions (in weeks six and seven). The study found that compared to the non-stair-climbing control group, the stair climbers dropped their cholesterol by an average of 7.7% and improved their VO2 max, a measurement of how efficiently their bodies used oxygen, by 17%.
3. Enjoy the benefits of running, but at a lower impact
Another benefit of climbing stairs is that it is relatively low impact, because moving to higher steps leads to less stress on knees, shins, hips and back compared to moving on a level surface. You can also use the handlebars to take a little weight off your lower body.
Suzy Walsham was a competitive track runner that was constantly getting injured, including stress fractures and knee issues, from the high impact sport taking a toll on her body. Later in life, she took up competitive stair climbing or “vertical running” and found great success and an end to her injury cycles.
Suzy explains, “In some ways, vertical running is harder than regular track: your heart rate is higher, and you get more lactic acid buildup. But there’s one huge advantage — the key advantage, really. When you're running on the flat, you’re usually landing two to three times your body weight flat on the ground, so there’s a lot of impact going through your body.” But with stair climbing, “you’re not landing with the full force of your body, so there’s much, much less impact.”
4. Protect knees to prevent future issues
Healthy knees are vital for everyday movements like standing, walking, running, climbing and even sitting. For those reasons, you should consider taking steps to prevent future knee problems.
Aligning hips over knees and ankles when walking, running jumping and landing will help to protect your knees from injury. Strengthening the inner quads, gluteal and core muscles will help keep your hips in alignment when engaging in these movements and will decrease the stress on the knee joint itself.
Stair climbing on a ClimbMill puts less pressure on knees compared to climbing actual stairs because there is no downhill stepping, so it is a gentler option with the same benefits. A combination of stair climbing and other leg-strengthening exercises is a great way to take preventative care of your knees. If you already have preexisting knee joint issues, it may not be ideal as it could aggravate weak or injured knees, so be sure to check with your physician before engaging in a stair climbing workout.
5. Increase glue muscle strength
“Glutes” refer to the gluteal muscles (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus) and the gluteus maximus is the largest muscle involved in hip extension. While many of us know how important glute strength is for so many basic and more advanced fitness movements – from walking and running to Olympic lifts and yoga moves, others are seeking aesthetic improvement to their glutes.
Studies show that stair climbing movement activates this muscle 50% more compared to treadmill walking. The lower part of the gluteus maximus muscle is the main hip extensor activated by ascending stairs, ideal for strengthening, sculpting and toning the muscles. For that reason, the ClimbMill is a popular cardio exercise for athletes training for figure, fitness and body building competitions.
Fun Fact: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, an American actor known for his muscular physique, has a Matrix ClimbMill in his home gym that he affectionately calls “Big Mama” and “Big Bertha” If you follow The Rock on social media, you might catch a glimpse of him on it from time to time!
6. Condition your core
Another lesser-known benefit of the ClimbMill is the fact that it helps to strengthen the core, but only if you maintain good posture throughout the exercise. Use your core, including your abs, external obliques, and intercostals (muscles that help stabilize your upper body), to keep your chest up and your back straight.
As you get fatigued, you may be tempted to grip the handles tightly, hunch over and put your weight into the handlebars. This is doing yourself a huge disservice and lowering the stair stepper benefits. By keeping strong form, an upright posture and a light grip on the handles, you can more effectively sculpt your lower body and strengthen your core.
7. Increase and maintain bone mass
Weight-bearing exercises like climbing stairs can help reduce your risk for osteoporosis and treat it if you already have it.
When you engage in a weight-bearing exercise, the muscles and tendons apply tension to the bone. As a result, the bones are stimulated to produce more bone tissue. Cells known as osteoblasts repair the bone and the bone becomes stronger and denser. Studies show that the magnitude, rate and frequency of strain on bones during exercise all play a role in building bone density.
Since the stair climber is a low impact exercise, this bone strength benefit will likely be impacted more in people with weak bones. This is due to there being a minimal threshold for bone growth, similar to the growth that occurs when building muscle. However, even for a healthy patient, intense stair climbing can help maintain bone strength.
8. Great for cross-training
Nothing puts athletes at more risk for injury than a one-dimensional workout routine that stresses your joints in the same way repeatedly. You can avoid this common pitfall by creating a well-rounded fitness approach that incorporates cross-training to vary movement.
Growing functional strength in under-utilized muscles is an effective way to address the muscle imbalances onset by sports with repetitive movements. Stair climbing is a great way to activate core, glute, quad, hamstring, ankle and calf muscles that may not be activated enough in some repetitive activities like swimming, golfing or rowing.
If you’re an avid runner, or you regularly attend high-impact circuit training classes, you can give your knees a break by alternating these joint-intensive workouts with low-impact ClimbMill workouts on your active recovery days.
For many athletes, the no-impact nature of sports like cycling, rowing or swimming is a plus. If, however, you never complete any weight-bearing or impact-based exercises, your bones will not fortify themselves. Over time this can put you at risk of serious injuries. Integrating the ClimbMill on cross-training days is a great way to build bone density.
9. Reduce the risk of falling
In addition to the cardiovascular benefits, stair climbing also exercises our bones and muscles, improving strength, bone density, stability and balance. This is a benefit that is hugely important in a world where osteoporosis is a growing global problem, hip fractures are set to increase by up to 310% globally by 2050 and seven in 1,000 Americans will have an ankle sprain each year.
Stair climbing is great for improving balance and coordination because with each step, you must balance on one leg at a time. It recruits stabilizer muscles in your lower leg muscles, like the foot and ankle, to keep yourself balanced.
Lower leg muscles position the foot for contact with the ground. When lower limb muscles are weak, especially the calves and ankles, the foot has a higher probability of landing in an unstable position that can lead to injury and falls.
Exercise modalities that condition the lower leg muscles may stem the risk of ankle injuries. Ankle sprains are the most common injury of all among athletes. It’s also one of the most common recurrent injuries of the lower extremity. Up to 40% of ankle sprains go on to develop chronic symptoms.
Our biomechanical studies reveal that compared to the elliptical, the ClimbMill activates lower leg musculature to a greater degree. By targeting both the gluteal and the ankle-stabilizing muscles, the ClimbMill offers an excellent choice for building strength to increase overall stability.
10. Real movement for real life
Stair climbing is known as a “functional” or “natural” movement, meaning that it mimics movements you perform in everyday life. Integrating functional movements into your workout routines can extend that quality of lifestyle.
Climbing stairs is likely already a movement you partake in every day. Depending on your health and fitness, it may be something you don’t even think about, it may cause you to take notice as you feel your muscles burn and breathing get harder, or it may be something you avoid at all costs. An ideal goal for those in the first two camps would be to incorporate regular stair climbing now to avoid falling into the third camp later in life.
For those who enjoy travel adventures that include long walks exploring new cities or hiking on beautiful mountain paths, the ClimbMill can help you train to prepare for the extra strain these pursuits can put on your body.
11. User-friendly for any fitness level
One of the overlooked benefits of the ClimbMill is the fact that it is so user-friendly and easy to use compared to some other types of exercise machines. If you’ve ever climbed a set of stairs before, you already know how to use a stair climber. This machine is user-friendly for nearly all levels of exercisers. That said, you should always consult a physician before engaging in a new exercise routine. Consult a physician before using a ClimbMill.
If you are new to exercise or you’ve taken an extended break from working out, it’s best to start with short workouts. During your first ClimbMill workout, start at a slow or moderate pace to get used to the speed and feel of the stairs. You’ll feel the burn quickly. Once you gain the spatial awareness of the stairs and don’t need to look down anymore, pay attention to your posture. Keep your chest up, shoulders back, and your back straight to get the most out of your workout.
Over time, build up the duration of your workouts and begin experimenting with speed changes, incorporating a mix of faster intervals, followed by slower recovery intervals.
12. Burn calories and reduce fat
Larger muscle groups burn more calories and the ClimbMill works some of the biggest muscles in your body. Harvard Health Publishing reports that 30 minutes of “general stair stepper machine use” burns 180 calories for a 125-pound person, 216 calories for a 155-pound person, and 252 calories for a 185-pound person. The faster you go, the more calories you’ll burn. You will burn a different number of calories depending on a variety of factors, including weight, age and your metabolic rate.
Whether you prefer high-intensity interval training or staying in the fat-burning zone doing longer steady-state workouts, the ClimbMill, when paired with sound nutrition, makes it easy to burn calories, tone muscles and reduce body fat.
13. Fits in tight spaces
If floor space is tight, the C50 ClimbMill offers a compact footprint so you can maximize your space. At 135 x 72 cm / 53” x 28,” the ClimbMill footprint is smaller than Matrix treadmills, ellipticals, Ascent Trainers and recumbent bikes. Use our 2D Layout Room Planner tool to see how it fits in your room and compares to a treadmill in your space.
To figure out whether you have enough height for a ClimbMill in your home gym, consider that the equipment will add 50–64.5 cm / 20"–25" to a user's height. For example, a 185 cm / 6'1" tall user will be 236–249 cm / 7'9"–8'2" off the floor. The user is only at the max height when the machine is stopped, stairs are locked, and the user is standing on the top stair. When in motion, the user will be lower as the stairs are constantly dropping.
14. Plenty of workout variety
With the ClimbMill, there are so many workout, program and entertainment options, there’s plenty of variety to keep you coming back for more.
With a wide variety of programs built into the console, each program will give you a different goal or workout method to keep things interesting. Depending on the console you choose, programs range from heart rate zones to duration goals to hills or intervals. As your fitness progresses and you increase your levels and goals, the workouts will get more challenging.
If zoning out and watching shows is your thing, be sure to select a touchscreen console with your ClimbMill so you can run one of the programmed workouts while binge watching your favorite series through one of the built-in entertainment apps. Or escape to a global destination with Virtual Active where you hike through the American Northeast or Northern Rockies.
If you’re looking for fun challenges, use the Landmarks program in creative ways like picking a taller landmark to conquer during each workout, starting with El Castillo at 10 floors and ending with 270 floors on the Burj Khalifa. Or pick one landmark to repeat for a week or two and try to get to the top faster each time. For some variation within your workouts, increase your pace for 10 seconds every time you reach a new floor.
15. You'll feel great
We saved the best for last. Scientific research overwhelmingly indicates that exercise and physical activity benefit mental health. As you climb stairs your body releases endorphins, which are “feel-good” brain chemicals that relieve tension and stress, boost physical and mental energy and enhance well-being. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you'll get a bigger benefit if you pay attention instead of zoning out. That’s why the ClimbMill is such a great natural and effective workout to reduce anxiety – you need to pay attention to each step.
Try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the step or the rhythm of your breathing. By adding this mindfulness element—really focusing on your body and how it feels as you climb—you'll not only improve your physical condition faster, but you may also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head.
You may feel a little exhausted at the end of a ClimbMill workout, but you should feel good about the work you put in.
About the Author
Barbara Jahncke, Senior Global Marketing Manager – Retail, USA
Barbara has been a marketing manager with Matrix since 2015. She leads brand strategy for the Matrix home product line. When she’s not working on marketing projects at the office, you’ll find her testing products or participating in lunch hour fitness classes and group bike rides.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational and educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease or medical condition. Seek the advice of your health care provider before making changes to your diet, daily activity, sleep or fitness routine and any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. Matrix Fitness assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained