Toning Exercises Using a Step

Instructor with fitness class performing step aerobics exercise with dumbbells
a step aerobics class. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Steps are pieces of workout equipment for cardiovascular workouts and aerobic routines. But along with burning calories and getting your heart rate up, you can use a step for exercises that tone the muscles in your arms and legs. Maximize your results by incorporating a step into your toning routine.

Muscle Groups Worked With a Step

You can use the step in a variety of ways to tone nearly every major muscle group in your body. Traditionally the step is used to tone the lower body, including the gluteal muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. But you can also use it to tone your upper body and core muscles, too.

Squat and Side Lift

Turn your body so your hips and shoulders are perpendicular to the step. Plant your foot closest to the step firmly on the platform in line with your hips. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart, and your weight should be in your heels. Keep both feet planted and squat backward as if you were going to sit in a chair. Keep your weight distributed equally between your feet. After you squat, leave your foot planted on the step and lift the other foot for an abductor side-leg lift. Do eight repetitions and switch sides.

Lunge and Knee Raise

Face the step with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Plant one foot on the platform. Raise the heel of your back foot so it is slightly off the ground. Bend both knees to lunge but do not exceed a 90-degree angle between your knee and ankle. Your weight should be in the heel of your front foot. After you lunge, in one move, straighten your legs again and lift your back knee toward your chest, keeping your abs engaged. Repeat eight times and switch sides.

Dynamic Inverted Plank

Place both forearms on the step and align your shoulders over your elbows. Extend your feet so you are balancing on your toes. Keep your back flat and abdominal muscles tight in this plank position. One at a time, lift your forearms and put your weight on the palms of your hands so you are in a pushup position. Then shift your weight so you are back down on your forearms. Repeat while trying to keep your core as stable as possible.

Other Exercises

Other toning exercises you can do with a step include calf raises, step-ups, step jumps, inverted pushups, lateral jumps, side planks, back lifts, abdominal crunches, bench presses, chest flies and triceps dips. Try raising and lowering the step height to change intensity of several of these exercises and use hand weights to increase the intensity.

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