Step aerobics became popular in the late 1980s. After a few months of participation in step classes, many people, especially women, noticed a marked improvement in their lower body composition. Some even found that they could now fit into a smaller pair of jeans. However, these changes are due to an overall fat loss, which is the result of the aerobic benefits of step, as well as the leg toning effects of the specific step movements. While spot reduction is a myth, frequent step training will increase fat loss, which will eventually lead to a slimmer lower body.
More Is Better
The American College of Sports Medicine encourages exercising on most days of the week for sessions as long as 30 to 60 minutes. To break up the monotony, try varying the step workouts with circuit step, power step and step and tone sessions.
Step speed is one of the most controversial subjects in the fitness industry. Reebok and Gin Miller, the creators of step aerobics, suggest that step workouts should not exceed 128 beats per minute. When step music is too fast, "Groucho stepping" occurs. In order to react to the quicker music speed, the participant adopts a lower, hunched-over stance and performs the movements on the balls of the feet. As a result, there is more stress on the knees and less leg muscle activation. Since full-range movements cannot be performed, caloric expenditure is decreased.
Caloric expenditure and leg muscle activation are increased when a higher platform is used. Reebok recommends a four-inch platform for fitness novices, a six-inch platform for otherwise fit participants who are new to step, eight inches for intermediates and 10 inches for advanced participants.
Repeaters are a popular step move that involve muscular endurance and gluteal strength. Step up with your right foot. Remain on the platform and lift your left knee three times, allowing only the toes to touch the floor. Step down and repeat on the other side.
Across the Top
"Across the top" is a lateral, high-intensity step movement that actively uses the muscles of the inner thigh. Begin on one end of the platform. Place one foot on the step, and then use a propelling motion to get to the other side.
Power moves consist of runs, hops and two-legged jumps o to the step. They increase the intensity of the workout and thus burn more calories.
Circuit Training and Step and Tone
Circuit training intersperses step sequences with muscle-toning exercises. Step and tone classes add a strength training session after the aerobic activity. In some cases, instructors will take advantage of the adjustable platforms, which can be used on either an incline or decline. These positions can enhance the effectiveness of various exercises. Additionally, the added muscle can increase metabolic rate.