The year was 1989. The young MC demanded that we all take a step. Thong leotards (worn over shiny spandex shorts) were perfectly acceptable sportswear. And Reebok launched Step Reebok, a lightweight, height-adjustable bench that literally enriched the world of aerobics. Suddenly, “step-hops” and “straddle-downs” became commonplace in group fitness classes, and there were stacks of colorful plastic with platforms and straps on the walls of health clubs.
Step workouts dominated for a solid decade, and many enthusiasts used a home model in conjunction with a collection of fuzzy VHS tapes. But the fitness world is fickle, and the upbeat gum choreography was slowly giving way to gritty, sweaty trends like spinning, boot camp, and cardio kickboxing. And although (most) women pulled back their scrunchie socks and Reeboks with the straps (with the straps!), Gyms that invested some green in these swaying plastic towers stayed in the hopes of closing the loop and getting popular again would.
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And they were right. The step remains, and apart from some luxury models with storage compartments and fancier carrying straps that allow inclines and declines, their basic construction remains unchanged. However, the traditional level training had to be revised in order to meet the current trends. In that light, we’ve thrown the bubbly jumps, powerful kicks, and complex dance combinations of the early 90s, replacing them with heart-pumping HIIT and intense strength-training moves designed to build real muscle.
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Get ready to take your workouts to a whole new level with this flavorful, high intensity, full body strength interval workout.
If you don’t have a stepper at home, change it up with the help of a flight of stairs or a thick hardcover book.
40 minute step HIIT workout
Would you like to do your cardio and strength training in less than an hour? Our revised step workout gets your engine going and loads every muscle from the neck down in just 40 minutes.
Warm up: 4 minutes
Set the step on low and do one round of each movement below for two rounds.
Raised toe cock
Stand on the step with your arms by your sides. Bend your left knee and tap the edge of the platform with the ball of your foot. Jump and switch feet so that your left foot is on the ground and the ball of your right foot hits the edge of the platform. Repeat this in quick succession, pumping your arms as you take turns tapping the edge of the step with your feet.
Stand the crotch with your feet. Jump out your feet shoulder width apart and crouch down, kick your hips back, and use your fingertips to touch the step chest up. Jump your feet back together and bounce in place twice before jumping back to the crouch.
HIIT Circuit: 12 Minute EMOM (every minute on the minute)
Set the step to low to medium height and get your timer out. Start the timer and repeat the first move in about 50 seconds with as many repetitions as possible. Then quickly switch to the next move starting at the beginning of the next minute. Go through the sequence of these next four moves a total of three times.
Stand by the side of the step with your feet hip-width apart. Squat down, put your hands on the floor, and jump your feet back onto the plank. Do a push-up, hop your feet back under you, then jump sideways over the step. Land gently on the other side and repeat. Go ahead and switch sides.
Bend your knees to reverse your lunge
Stand on the step and place your left foot in the center of the platform. Extend your leg to stand on top and bring your right knee through to hip level. Step back with your right foot, then step back with your left foot and jump down until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Do all the repetitions on one side, then switch.
Travel push up
Start in a push-up position next to the step with one hand on the platform and one hand on the floor. Bend your elbows and lower your chest towards the floor. Then pull back to the beginning and move your arms and legs sideways across the step to the other side. With one hand on top, put one hand on the floor and do another push-up. Go ahead and switch sides.
With your feet on the step and hands under your shoulders, spine and head, step onto the plank neutrally. Slowly pull a knee into your chest without curling your spine or lifting your hips and taking a break. Return to the start and continue alternating legs.
Power circle: 24 minutes
Adding weight to your resistance increases the intensity, and increasing the step height adds an element of instability – both of which require more of your muscles. For each of these four moves, do 12 repetitions per side before moving on to the next exercise. (For the elevated pike push-up, do a total of 12 repetitions.) For the standing movements, set the stride to the highest level and cycle three times, allowing 60 seconds of rest between movements.
Bulgarian split squat with biceps curl
Hold a row of dumbbells with your palms facing forward and stand with your back to the step. Extend one leg behind you and place your toes with your shoulders back and hips up. Bend both knees and lower them straight down while curling the dumbbells towards your shoulders at the same time. When your front thigh is parallel to the floor, stand up again and loosen the dumbbells. Do all the repetitions on one side, then switch.
Stand with your back close to the step and lift your right foot off the floor with the core taut in front of you. Keep your right leg straight and stretched out in front of you as you bend your left knee and push your hips back. Slowly lower yourself until your glutes lightly touch each other on the step. Then cycle through your heel to return to standing. Do all the repetitions on one side, then switch.
Dumbbell Renegade Row
Set the step to low to medium height and place a dumbbell on the side of the step. Then, step onto the plank with one hand on the step and the other on the dumbbell handle. Position your feet wider than normal to maintain balance while keeping your head, hips, and heels aligned. Hold your core firmly as you row the weight toward your flank and keep your hips straight. Lower for takeoff under control. Do all the repetitions on one side, then switch.
Elevated pike push-ups
From a four-man position on the floor, extend your legs one at a time behind you to a high step. Step back with your hands and lift your hips until you are in a pike position with your hips over your shoulders and head. Bend your elbows and slowly lower them until your head hits the floor. Then press back to start.