June 20, 2022
should you set up your home gym in your garage? here's what you need to know
should you buy a peloton? here's how to decide
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I'm Mickie. I run One Strong Southern Girl from Small Town, TN. I love what I do. I want you to remember me because I helped changed your life.
The workout step (aka-aerobic step, aerobic stepper, aerobic platform, workout bench, exercise step, gym step, circuit step, ect.) is the forgotten fitness tool every woman should own.
Here’s all the information you need to buy and use the hottest home fitness product on the market today.
Exercise step, fitness stepper, exercise platform, aerobic step, exercise bench…these are all common terms for the same fitness product that I’m referring to in this post.
An aerobic (workout) step is a platform (usually with risers) designed specifically as a fitness tool.
The original step design was created for step aerobics and a lot of people still think of traditional step routines (that use dance-style moves) when they see exercise step equipment—but things have changed.
Today aerobic step equipment is incorporated into almost every fitness style.
You’ll see an exercise step used for high-intensity interval (HiiT) training, plyometric exercises, low-impact circuits, weight training (sculpting and toning with dumbbells) and traditional step aerobics.
Another words >> An aerobic step is one of the very best pieces of exercise equipment for TOTAL BODY FITNESS.
The versatility of an aerobic step is why it’s my favorite fitness tool (and the one I recommend women purchase if they’re looking for ONE piece of home exercise equipment to invest in).
✔Next, I’ll tell you what size aerobic step you’ll need, the difference in a circuit step and a gym-sized step and the different features of a step (and why they’re important).
✔Keep reading to find out what kinds of exercises you can do with your aerobic step, whether step routines work your abs and my recommendations for workouts you can try with your aerobic step.
If you do a quick search on Google you’ll quickly discover there’s a big range of prices and styles of fitness steps.
For the love of monkeys do NOT pick out the exercise platform you’re going to buy based on the price.
Girls, size matters when it comes to your fitness step.
Don’t minimize the importance of this decision.
The equipment you own directly affects your exercise routine.
If your equipment is safe, versatile and beautiful then you’re more likely to do the thing you bought it for.
I recommend you buy a professional gym-sized step with a platform (aka bench or deck) that’s approximately 43 inches x 16 inches. This model normally comes with 4 risers so that you can do exercises at a 4, 6 or 8 inch height.
“But Mickie, that’s kind of big. I’d rather have something more compact,” you say.
Yes, it’s bigger than some of the other models—but it’s also safer.
Consider this: Your step is a target for your feet (for the majority of the exercises you use it for).
And most of the time you’ll be moving when you place your feet on that target.
I’ve been doing step exercises for over 10 years and have owned smaller steps.
It’s very easy to misplace your foot on a small target when your eyes are on the TV or your legs are at that point in the workout when they’ve become the weight of 2 giant cinderblocks.
So, the most important reason you need an exercise platform that’s 43 inches x 16 inches is for SAFETY.
The second reason you need an aerobic step that’s 43 x 16 is because of FUNCTION.
Occasionally, you’re going to want to use your step to do exercises on your back.
A small step isn’t big enough for these exercises. You won’t have full support of your head and back with a smaller step.
The third reason you need an aerobic step that’s 43 inches x 16 inches is because of DESIGN.
The gym-sized steps are crafted on a large base with rubber attachments underneath that protect your floor and keep the step in place during use.
The risers used with the 43” steps are designed to go together and fit under the step.
The risers also have rubber attachments for safety.*
The tops of many of the larger steps (not all of them) are soft. This rubber covering is comfy on your hands and back and a non-slip surface for your feet.
*The safest 43″ workout step on the market is this one with locking risers that you won’t find anywhere else.
The ‘circuit size’ steps are not full size.
A circuit step is approximately 25 inches x 16 inches and comes with 1 set of risers to go up to a height of 4 inches, but there’s no standard size for a circuit step. You’ll see a range of sizes that are all small versions of a gym-sized step.
There are step routines and step exercises for every fitness level.
Like all exercise programs and equipment you need to be aware of your own skill level before you try new or different exercises.
If you’re a beginner, start with no risers under your step whenever you do a workout. Add risers as you get comfortable with the routine and your step equipment.
Remember that there are SO MANY MORE exercise options than just traditional step aerobics. Take the time to research the variety of exercise style you can incorporate with your step.
You can do plyometrics, circuit training, high or low-impact exercises, toning and sculpting with dumbbells, high-intensity interval training and compound training (using multiple muscle groups at once).
An exercise (aerobic) step will work your body however you want it to.
The possibilities are endless.
You can use a step for cardio, toning or (my preference) workouts that do both.
The short answer is yes!
Think about it. Using a step when you exercise means that (most of) your moves will be bigger. That means your body will be working harder (your heartrate will be higher) and you’ll burn more calories.
Don’t believe it?
I tested this idea on myself by doing the same group of exercises without a step, using a step with one riser on each side and using 2 risers on each side.
I did the exercises for equal amounts of time and recorded my heart rate and the calories I burned.
I burned 26% more calories doing the same exercise on a step with 2 risers per side than I did doing the exercises on the floor.
You can check out the full case study:
Step workouts are just like any other fitness routine…they can be any length you want.
For example, you can set the length of your workout by doing circuit intervals* with your step.
*WORKOUT IDEA–I like to do one-minute exercise intervals using my step (followed by 45 second rests.) I do 10 exercises (5 toning/sculpting exercises with dumbbells and 5 intense cardio moves) and then repeat them all through one more circuit for a total body calorie-crushing routine.
Or find a step routine on You Tube.
Here’s a great beginner routine:
Or you can purchase a few aerobic step videos.
Cathe Friedrich has a TON of options and she creates new workouts all the time.
Here’s the cool thing about using an aerobic step—every time you place your foot up on something you engage your core. What?! How?
The thing is…when you step up your muscles naturally adjust to maintain balance.
The first muscle group we think about engaging for step workouts are our legs.
But your core muscles (abdominal and back muscles) are actually working just as hard to keep you from falling while you redistribute your weight.
And when you do step-ups with dumbbells or exercises like this:
You can really sculpt and define your core muscles.
There are SO MANY exercises you can do using a step.
PRO TIP>>If you’ve never worked out on an exercise platform before then start with light weights and no risers in place the first few times you do any moves holding dumbbells.
You can do isolation exercises like static lunges (doing a single-leg lunge in place with your back foot on the step and dumbbells held in each hand) or step-ups.
And you can do compound exercises with dumbbells like a chest fly with a double leg extension (lying on your step) or a dumbbell curl or overhead press while you do step-ups.
PRO TIP—Proper form is VERY important when you do compound exercises. If you’re doing a compound move for the first time try it with no weights and with your feet on the floor. Move to your step and add dumbbells when you’re ready.
Well, how many days a week do you exercise?
You can use a step for every style of exercise so there’s no reason you can’t use a step for every single workout.
The most effective workout schedules mix up workout styles so that you get a blend of intense cardio, weight-training and interval training during the week. And all of your muscles and joints will need a holiday at some point. So, plan out your weekly workouts with those things in mind.
*As reference, I exercise 5-6 days/week and incorporate my step into my workout 3-4 of those days.
You can buy a premium gym-sized aerobic step with all the best safety features right here.
You can find them in pink, blue or red with 4 or 6 risers.
No matter where you decide to buy your aerobic step from, make sure you buy a step that’s approximately 43 inches by 16 inches and comes with at least 4 risers.
You’ll be happier with a larger, safer and more versatile piece of exercise equipment.
Check out a membership to Beachbody on Demand so you can try out Shaun T’s Transform 20 workouts (he uses an aerobic step in every routine of the 6 week program).
PRO TIP– Read my full review of the Transform 20 program before you try it.
The routines are completely awesome (but advanced).
But the post below will be the best place to find new workouts using your workout step:
get it now
Don't waste another minute trying to piece together all the right workouts and equipment for the 'perfect' plan. Download a blueprint with all the steps in one place.