33 Best Step Exercises for Your At Home Workout

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // April 17, 2024


If you haven’t added step exercises to your workout routine yet, now is the time! There are so many different types of step exercises to choose from, from cardio and strength training to stretching. I have decades of experience training women and there is truly something for everyone, no matter your fitness level.

To prove it, I’ve rounded up 33 of the best step exercises for boosting endurance, losing weight, and toning different muscle groups. Each exercise falls under one of four categories: cardio, strength, core, or stretching.

There are so many great benefits of adding a step platform to your home gym, and it’s time for you to start taking advantage of them. Check out the best step exercises for your home workout below, followed by my favorite step platforms on the market.

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    1. Up Up Down Down

    Category: Cardio

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, quads

    How to do up up down downs (also known as the right and left basic steps exercise):

    • Start by standing in front of the step.
    • Step up with the right foot, and then the left foot.
    • Step down with the right foot, and then the left foot. 
    • Continue stepping up and down, gradually increasing speed. 
    • Keep going for the desired amount of time. Then, switch to stepping up with the left foot, and then the right foot for the desired amount of time. 
    • Keep your core tight and step as quietly as possible.

    2. V-Step

    Category: Cardio

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, quads

    How to do a v-step exercise:

    • Start by standing in front of the step.
    • Step up with the right foot with toes pointed slightly out, and then step up with the left foot with toes pointed slightly out. Your feet should create a “V,” with heels shoulder-width apart. 
    • As you step up, lift both arms to your sides and reach them overhead to touch. 
    • Step down with the right foot, and then the left foot, bringing your arms back down. 
    • Continue stepping up and down, gradually increasing speed. 
    • Keep going for the desired amount of time. Then, switch to stepping up with the left foot, and then the right foot for the desired amount of time. 
    • Keep your core tight and step as quietly as possible. 

    3. Alternating Knee Pull

    Category: Cardio

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, quads

    How to do an alternating knee pull step exercise:

    • Start by standing in front of the step.
    • Lean forward slightly and step up with the right foot, raising both arms overhead. 
    • Then, pull your left knee toward your midline while swinging both arms down. Keep your torso upright; don’t crunch.
    • Lower your arms as you return your left foot to the floor, followed by the right foot.  
    • Repeat, but this time step up with your left foot and pull your right knee toward your midline. 
    • Continue alternating sides for the desired amount of time, gradually increasing speed. 

    4. Up and Over

    Category: Cardio

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, quads

    How to do an up and over step exercise:

    • Start in a squat position (feet shoulder-width apart, chest lifted, abs tight, and seat back) with one foot on the center of your step.
    • Use your lower body muscles to jump up and over the step.
    • Land in a squat with your other foot on the step.
    • Repeat, jumping back and forth quickly for the desired amount of time.

    5. Burpee

    Category: Cardio

    Muscle groups targeted: Chest, arms, core, glutes, hamstrings, quads

    How to do a burpee step exercise:

    • Start in a standing position and quickly drop down into a squat. 
    • Jump (or walk, for low impact) both feet back into a plank position with your hands on the step (hands are below shoulders, body long, and abs tight). Check that your lower back isn’t sagging.
    • Jump (or walk, for low impact) both feet together between your hands.
    • Release your hands from the ground as you explode into the air. Jump as high as you can, reaching both arms overhead. (Skip the jump if you want to keep it low impact.) 

    6. Burpee Box Jump

    Category: Cardio

    Muscle groups targeted: Chest, arms, core, glutes, hamstrings, quads

    How to do a burpee box jump step exercise:

    • Start in a standing position in front of the step and quickly drop down into a squat. 
    • Jump (or walk, for low impact) both feet back into a plank position with your hands on the step (hands are below shoulders, body long, and abs tight). Check that your lower back isn’t sagging.
    • Jump (or walk, for low impact) both feet together between your hands.
    • Release your hands from the ground as you explode into the air, jumping onto the step using your leg muscles. 
    • Land on the step in a squat position, keeping your weight in your heels. 
    • Step down and repeat.

    7. Power Knee Lift

    Category: Cardio

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, quads

    How to do a power knee lift step exercise:

    • Start in a squat position with your left foot on the step and right foot on the floor. 
    • Drive the right knee up while jumping in the air and swinging the left arm. 
    • Land in a squat on the same side and repeat for the desired number of reps. 
    • Switch sides. 

    8. Straddle Feet Up Up Down Down

    Category: Cardio

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, quads

    How to do a straddle feet up up down down step exercise:

    • Stand with both feet straddling the step platform.
    • Step up with your right foot, and then up with your left foot. 
    • Step down with your right foot, and then down with your left foot to return to the straddle position. 
    • Continue for the desired amount of time, gradually increasing speed. 
    • Then, switch to stepping up with the left foot, and then the right foot for the desired amount of time. 

    9. Lateral Toe Tap

    Category: Cardio

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, quads

    How to do a lateral toe tap step exercise:

    • Stand in front of the step at the left end.
    • Place your right foot on the step, keeping your left foot on the floor. 
    • Jump and move to the right, switching feet mid-air. When you land, your left foot should be on the step, right foot on the floor. 
    • Repeat, pumping your arms in a running motion with each jump. 
    • Continue jump-switching feet as you travel to the right end of the step. Once you reach the end, reverse direction. 
    • Keep alternating directions for the desired amount of time, gradually increasing speed.

    10. Surfer Squat

    Category: Cardio

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, quads, core

    How to do a surfer squat step exercise:

    • Start in a squat position on the step, but with your body facing the side of the room and your eyes looking forward. 
    • Jump 180 degrees and land in a squat with your body facing the opposite side of the room. Keep your eyes looking forward. 
    • Continue making 180-degree jump-turns for the desired amount of time. 

    11. Mountain Climbers

    Category: Cardio

    Muscle groups targeted: Core, shoulders, glutes

    How to do a mountain climber step exercise:

    • Set up in a plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart on the step. Engage your abs.
    • Maintain plank position and draw one knee in toward your chest. Then, switch feet and draw the other knee in. 
    • Alternate back and forth quickly as though you are running.

    12. Bulgarian Split Squat 

    Category: Strength

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, quads, hamstrings

    How to do a Bulgarian split squat step exercise:

    • Begin by standing a few feet in front of the step. Reach your left foot back and place your toes on the bench, keeping the heel lifted. 
    • Bend the right knee and lower your body toward the floor until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. This will feel like a lunge movement. 
    • If your right knee extends past your ankle, step your right foot further forward. 
    • Squeeze the right glute as you press yourself back to standing, keeping the weight on your right leg.
    • Repeat for the desired number of reps. Switch sides. 

    13. Incline Push-Up 

    Category: Strength

    Muscle groups targeted: Chest, shoulders, arms, core

    How to do an incline push-up step exercise:

    • Set up in a plank position with your hands on the step below your shoulders. Engage your abs.
    • With your elbows pointing slightly back, bend the elbows to lower your body until you’re just above the step. Keep your gaze over your fingertips. 
    • Exhale and tighten your abdominals as you push yourself back up to a plank position. 
    • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

    14. Decline Push-Up

    Category: Strength

    Muscle groups targeted: Chest, shoulders, arms, core

    How to do a decline push-up step exercise:

    • Set up in a plank position with your hands on the floor below your shoulders and toes on the step behind you. Engage your abs.
    • With your elbows pointing slightly back, bend the elbows to lower your body until you’re just above the floor. Keep your gaze over your fingertips. 
    • Exhale and tighten your abdominals as you push yourself back up to a plank position. 
    • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

    15. Alternating Reverse Lunge 

    Category: Strength

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, quads, core

    How to do an alternating reverse lunge step exercise:

    • Stand on the step with feet hip-width apart.
    • Step your right foot onto the floor behind you, bending both knees into a lunge. 
    • Step your right foot back onto the step. 
    • Repeat with the left foot. Continue alternating sides for the desired number of reps. 

    16. Glute Bridge 

    Category: Strength

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, core

    How to do a glute bridge step exercise:

    • Lie on your back with knees bent hip-distance apart, and feet flat on the step.
    • Engage your core and squeeze your glutes as you lift your hips to a bridge.
    • Hold briefly, and then return your glutes to the floor with control. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

    17. Renegade Row + Walk the Plank

    Category: Strength

    Muscle groups targeted: Back, triceps, biceps, core

    How to do a renegade row + walk the plank step exercise:

    • Place a dumbbell on the floor on either side of the step. 
    • Begin in a full plank position with a dumbbell in your right hand and left hand on the step with arms extended. Check that your hands are under your shoulders. Widen your feet for a more stable base. 
    • Engage your abs and pull the right dumbbell up toward the right hip, keeping the dumbbell close to your side and driving the elbow back. Resist rotating the shoulders and hips. 
    • Slowly lower the right dumbbell to the step beside you and walk your hands to the dumbbell on the left side of the step. Keep your body in a plank position the entire time.
    • Row the dumbbell with the left arm, and then walk your hands to the other end.
    • Keep alternating sides for the desired number of reps.

    18. Bicep Curl + Straddle Step Up Up Down Down 

    Category: Strength

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, biceps

    How to do a bicep curl + straddle step up up down down exercise:

    • Stand with both feet straddling the step and hold a dumbbell in each hand down at your sides.
    • Step up with your right foot, and then up with your left foot. Curl the dumbbells. 
    • Step down with your right foot, and then down with your left foot to return to the straddle position. Lower the dumbbells.
    • Continue for the desired amount of time, gradually increasing speed. 
    • Then, switch to stepping up with the left foot, and then the right foot for the desired amount of time. 

    19. Tricep Dip

    Category: Strength

    Muscle groups targeted: Triceps

    How to do a tricep dip step exercise:

    • Sit in front of the exercise step with knees bent and feet on the floor. 
    • Place both hands on the step behind you, directly under your shoulders, with your fingers facing your hips and elbows bent. 
    • Use your triceps to lift your hips off the floor until your arms are straight.
    • Bend your elbows to return your hips to the floor with control. 
    • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

    20. Straddle Squat Pick-Up + Squat Put-It-Down 

    Category: Strength

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, quads, hamstrings

    How to do a straddle squat pick-up + square put-it-down step exercise:

    • Place two dumbbells on the exercise step and stand with feet straddling the step.
    • Bend your knees and extend your buttocks backward as if you are going to sit in a chair. Keep your weight in your heels. 
    • Once you reach the bottom of the squat, pick up a dumbbell in each hand and stand up. 
    • Squat again, but this time, set the dumbbells down. 
    • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

    21. Box Jump

    Category: Strength

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, quads

    How to do a straddle box jump step exercise:

    • Begin in a squat position with the step in front of you, arms bent at your sides.
    • Jump onto the step, swinging your arms to help. 
    • Land on the step in a squat position, keeping your weight in your heels. 
    • Step down and repeat.

    22. Step-Up + Alternating Shoulder Press

    Category: Strength

    Muscle groups targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, shoulders

    How to do a step-up + alternating shoulder press step exercise:

    • Stand on the floor behind the step and hold a dumbbell in each hand by your shoulders.
    • Step your right foot onto the step. As you step up, press the left dumbbell overhead. 
    • Step your right foot to the floor as you lower the weight back to your shoulder. 
    • Step your left foot onto the step and press the right dumbbell overhead. 
    • Continue alternating for the desired number of reps.

    23. Chest Fly 

    Category: Strength

    Muscle groups targeted: Chest, biceps, shoulders

    How to do a step-up + alternating shoulder press step exercise:

    • Lie on the exercise step with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold the dumbbells straight up over your chest. 
    • With a slight bend in the elbows, slowly open your arms wide until the backs of your arms are slightly above chest level.
    • Squeeze your chest as you bring the weights together above your chest.
    • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

    24. Overhead Lat Pull + Leg Drop 

    Category: Strength

    Muscle groups targeted: Back, biceps, core

    How to do an overhead lat pull + leg drop step exercise:

    • Lie on the exercise step with your legs extended and hold a dumbbell overhead in each hand. Keep a slight bend in your elbows and touch the dumbbells together behind your head. 
    • Tighten your abdominals and press your lower back into the exercise step. Keeping your legs straight, lift them toward the ceiling while using your back muscles to pull the dumbbells toward your knees.
    • Reverse the movement with control. Your head, neck, shoulders, and glutes should remain on the step throughout the exercise.  
    • Repeat for the desired number of reps. 

    25. Side Plank T-Lift

    Category: Strength

    Muscle groups targeted: Obliques, core

    How to do a side plank T-lift step exercise:

    • Sit sideways on the floor with your right hand on the step below your right shoulder and feet stacked. 
    • Lift your body into a side plank: Legs extended, abs engaged, and feet stacked. 
    • Hold for the desired amount of time. Repeat on the opposite side.

    26. Core Body Hop 

    Category: Core

    Muscle groups targeted: Obliques, core

    How to do a core body hop step exercise:

    • Set up in a plank position with your hands on the step, shoulders over your wrists, feet together, and body in a straight line.
    • In this position, bend your knees and hop both feet to your left, keeping your feet together. 
    • Hop back to the center, and then hop to the right. 
    • Continue for the desired amount of time. 

    27. Army Crawl Plank

    Category: Core

    Muscle groups targeted: Core, chest, shoulders, arms

    How to do an army crawl plank step exercise:

    • Set up in a plank position with your hands on the step, shoulders over your wrists, feet together, and body in a straight line.
    • Bend your left arm to rest your forearm on the step. Then, bend your right arm so you’re in a forearm plank position. 
    • Lift your left hand and place it on the step directly below your shoulder as you push through your palm to lift yourself. 
    • As your left arm straightens, place your right palm on the step under your right shoulder and push into a full plank. 
    • Repeat, leading with the right arm. 
    • Continue alternating for the desired number of reps.

    28. Roll Up + Jump Up 

    Category: Core

    Muscle groups targeted: Core, glutes, quads, hamstrings

    How to do a roll up + jump up step exercise:

    • Lie on your back on the floor with your arms extended overhead, legs long, and feet flexed. The step should be a few inches away from your feet. 
    • Inhale as you lift your arms off the floor and begin curling your chin and chest forward. 
    • Exhale as you roll your torso up and over your legs, reaching for your toes. 
    • Stand and explode upward to jump into the air.
    • Sit on the floor and roll back down to the floor to return to the starting position. 
    • Continue repeating for the desired number of reps.

    29. Side Plank + Hip Dips 

    Category: Core

    Muscle groups targeted: Core, obliques

    How to do a side plank + hip dips step exercise:

    • Sit sideways on the floor with your right hand on the step below your right shoulder and feet stacked. 
    • Lift your body into a side plank: Legs extended, abs engaged, and feet stacked. 
    • Dip your hips down toward the floor and use your obliques and core muscles to lift back up. Repeat for the desired number of reps. Switch sides. 

    30. Bicycle Twist

    Category: Core

    Muscle groups targeted: Core, obliques

    How to do a bicycle twist step exercise:

    • Sit on the step with feet off the floor and legs in a tabletop position. Place your hands behind your head.
    • Bring one knee in and reach toward it with the opposite elbow. 
    • Repeat on the other side and continue alternating sides in a criss-cross motion.
    • Continue for the desired number of reps. 

    31. Elevated Pigeon 

    Category: Stretch

    Muscle groups targeted: Hips, inner thighs

    How to do an elevated pigeon step stretch:

    • Begin in a plank position with your hands on the step. 
    • Tighten your abs and pull your right knee toward your right hand. Place your right foot on the step as close to your left hand as possible.
    • Keep your back leg long and keep your hips even as you relax your weight toward the floor. 
    • Breathe and hold for 30 seconds. 
    • Step back into a plank and switch sides. 

    32. Calf Stretch

    Category: Stretch

    Muscle groups targeted: Calves

    How to do a calf step stretch:

    • Step onto the step and place both feet on the edge so your heels rest on the floor. 
    • Inhale and lift onto the balls of your feet to engage the calves.
    • Exhale and drop the heels down to the floor. 
    • Continue the back-and-forth motion of rising to the toes and dropping the heels for 30 seconds. Aim to keep the legs straight at all times.
    Chris Freytag showing a calf stretch on a step platform.

    33. Seated Toe Touch

    Category: Stretch

    Muscle groups targeted: Hamstrings

    How to do a seated toe touch step stretch:

    • Sit on the step with your legs extended on the floor in front of you. 
    • Sit up to lengthen your spine, reaching the crown of your head toward the ceiling. 
    • Then, hinge forward and reach your fingers toward your toes until you feel a slight stretch in the backs of your thighs. 
    Chris Freytag stretching on a step platform.

    My Top Step Platform Picks

    I use these regularly for online workouts — you can’t go wrong, no matter which you choose!

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