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Rising to New Heights: The Ascent Trainer

Rising to New Heights: The Ascent Trainer

JHTA Marketing |

Reconceiving the elliptical introduced an entirely new way to work out by combining resistance and rise with the footpath in the development of the Ascent Trainer.

Our customers notice a lot of similarities between our suspension elliptical and the Ascent Trainer. Both offer a great, low-impact workout that is easy on the joints.

Like the suspension elliptical, the Ascent Trainer incorporates resistance to add challenge to the workout. Both machines share the same elliptical footpath that delivers a great smooth, consistent feeling. They also both feature the suspension frame for a wheel- and track-free design that reduces friction for long-lasting quality.

But there is a key difference. The Ascent Trainer adds another element to the workout, and that’s where things get interesting (or challenging).

The Ascent Trainer allows users to adjust the height of their ellipse by adding incline or rise to their path of motion. That means someone can go from a walk to a jaunt up stadium stairs—all with just the touch of a button. The same person could still ramp up their resistance, too.

Why add both rise and resistance? Yes, both features add an element of difficulty to the workout. However, they each do it in a unique way and, therefore, add unique challenge.

The resistance incorporates more muscle activity, turning a traditional cardio session into a cardio and strength blend.

The incline or rise also activates quads, hamstrings and core muscles that are not typically engaged in a walking, elliptical or even a running workout. In essence, the Ascent Trainer allows users to train harder and train more muscles than a traditional elliptical can—all without sacrificing the comfort that an elliptical workout ensures.

The Ascent Trainer gives the body the variety it craves without leaving too much to chance.

The unique technology and engineering used in the Ascent Trainer design is exclusive to Johnson Health Tech and the design is patented, so you won't find it anywhere else.

Comparing to a Machine with User-Defined Motion

A lot of other equipment manufacturers talk about incorporating user-defined motion to deliver cross-trainer workout versatility (Matrix does not offer a user-defined modality).

That certainly is an option, but it is one that puts a lot of responsibility on users, who must consciously monitor their paths of motion to ensure that they maintain the workouts they think they want. If they daydream or lose focus, their workout could revert to something simpler, something less challenging, and ultimately something less effective. That makes less efficient use of their time and delays results.

The Ascent Trainer was designed to bring flexibility to the movement pattern without relying on a user-defined path of motion. That distinction is critical.

The versatility of the Ascent Trainer enables users to vary their exercise workout to workout, or even moment to moment, but it also ensures a level of consistency that would be lost if the motion were totally user-defined.

Individuals do not have to focus on maintaining a climbing form or a certain stride length. They cannot accidentally default to a less strenuous, almost passive path. The Ascent Trainer lets them adjust their movement pattern and then maintain it for as long as they like or recreate it repeatedly. Users can focus on their effort and output and not on the shape of their ellipse.

The source of the smooth, fluid feel of the Ascent Trainer is its constant rate of acceleration. Minimal acceleration throughout the pedal’s range of motion gives the user a smooth machine interaction, which means less stress on joints for a comfortable, low-impact workout.

Basic Path of Motion

The Ascent Trainer maintains a smooth, comfortable elliptical path throughout the total range of motion at any incline setting. As incline increases, stride length increases from 21 inches to 24 inches and step-over height changes from 7 inches to 12 inches. Step-over height is defined as the total vertical distance between pedals, or ellipse height.

A combination of longer stride length and step-over height results in greater gluteal and hamstring recruitment, and in turn, higher calorie expenditure.

When comparing to the cross-trainer with a user-defined motion, you'll find those machines products a curved path shaped like a bow that also increases stride length and step-over height but maintains the same relative path throughout. By design, this pedal motion requires the user to abruptly start and stop with each stride.

Pedal Angle

To make the Ascent Trainer comfortable for all body types at any incline, pedal angle changes are mild throughout the incline range. This allows users to keep their full foot in contact with the pedal even at full incline, distributing foot pressure and reducing the chance for fatigue or numb toes.

Large changes in a variable inclining cross-trainer pedal angle make it nearly impossible to keep heel contact with the pedal, especially at full incline. For a novice or deconditioned user, this extreme angle change can be uncomfortable and forces more pressure be placed on the ball of the foot.


Because it offers a true elliptical pedal path, the Ascent Trainer design exhibits less pedal acceleration than other ellipticals and cross-trainers. Less acceleration at the pedal results in a smooth feel, a hallmark of Matrix ellipticals.

More pedal acceleration leads to a “jerky” or “choppy” feeling and increased joint and muscle strain. Biomechanical studies of the Ascent Trainer toe measurement show pedal acceleration at roughly the ball of the foot. The heel accelerates more due to pedal flexion.

In biomechanical studies of a variable inclining cross-trainer, toe acceleration is nearly double that of the Ascent Trainer. Heel acceleration is even greater due to pedal flexion, and in total, greater throughout the whole range of motion than the Ascent Trainer. The abrupt effect of bow-shaped curve path motion becomes obvious. Since there isn’t an elliptical path to smooth the motion, the user feels and absorbs the dramatic change in pedal velocity.

Calorie Burn

V02 and surface EMG analysis were completed to validate the effectiveness of the Ascent Trainer. The results indicated that in addition to a comfortable motion at any incline, the Ascent Trainer provides a superior workout that burns more calories at a lower heart rate than treadmills or traditional ellipticals.

In our initial study, conducted at the Matrix Fitness research center, we recruited users that would represent the typical fitness club population. Both conditioned athletes and participants with limited fitness experience participated in the test.

A standard Bruce treadmill test protocol was employed to establish baseline values. An Ascent Trainer test protocol was then developed, and the values were measured against the baseline treadmill results.

On average, the results show a five percent lower maximum heart rate with a six percent increase in caloric deficit. This means that Ascent Trainer users will burn more calories at a lower cardiovascular effort.

Muscle Activation

One of the benefits of running stadium steps, hill climbing or using a ClimbMill is a great glute workout. With the Ascent Trainer, our goal was to create the benefits of hill climbing without the impact. This was accomplished, with lab results showing a gluteus activation increase of over 50 percent.

Through sEMG and engineering design analysis, we found greater recruitment in key muscle groups at full incline and smoother motion at 0 incline. Lower overall amplitude and consistent activation per stride at 0 percent incline results in a smoother motion than a traditional elliptical or cross-trainer.


If you’re considering a low-impact machine for your home, the Ascent Trainer will give you the same full-body workout and smooth, consistent feel of our suspension ellipticals, plus so much more.

With the addition of incline, your workout variety will increase immensely. Muscle targeting and activation add a strength component, increase intensity and challenge when you want it, perform a climbing simulation to work on hike training and more. When you want exercise variety, challenge and strength building, the Ascent Trainer is the most efficient choice.

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 by any recommendations, opinions or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner's manual of your fitness equipment.

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