33 Best Step Exercises To Use In Your Home Workout

Cardio Workouts, Fitness, Strength Workouts, Workouts for Seniors

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // June 28, 2023


If you haven’t added step exercises to your workout repertoire yet, now is the time. There are so many different types of step exercises you can choose from, from cardio to strength training to stretching. There’s truly something for everyone.

To prove it, we’ve rounded up 33 of the best step exercises. But before we get into those, let’s recap some of the perks of an exercise step platform, along with our favorite steps on the market.

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    Table of contents

    Benefits of Step Platform

    There are so many reasons to love exercise steps. Here are a handful of them: 

    • It’s a versatile training tool: Step platforms came on the aerobics scene in the late 80s. While it’s still used for step aerobic exercises, it’s evolved into a far more versatile training tool that can be used to build muscle strength and deepen your stretches.

      By adding risers, you can create different heights to make strength exercises easier or harder. Can’t do a full pushup yet? Elevate your hands on the step platform. Want to intensify a plyometric exercise like the jump squat? Jump onto the exercise step. 

      You can also use a step platform as a strength training exercise bench. It allows you to do upper body moves like chest presses and flys, core exercises like bicycle twists, lower body moves like reverse lunges, and even stretches like the seated toe touch. You can create total body workouts easily right in your living room. (We’ve got videos and step-by-step instructions for all these moves plus free full-length workouts below!!) 
    • It can help with weight loss: Aerobic step workouts are a great way to burn calories. Stepping up and down gets your heart pumping — think of how you feel after climbing a flight of stairs! This type of high-intensity workout can help with weight loss when combined with a healthy diet.
    • It’s great for older adults: An exercise step is a handy training tool for older adults. It can be used to create low-impact exercise aerobic workouts, build balance and coordination, and strengthen bones.
    • It’s convenient and easy to use: Exercise steps are great for home gyms because they’re lightweight and easy to move. This way, you can set them aside to save space when you’re done using them. Plus, it’s easy to adjust the height of the step with adding or removing risers. 
    • It’s fun: Last but not least, exercise steps are a great way to change up your workouts. Aerobic step exercises can stand-in for more traditional cardio activities like running and jumping rope which raises your heart rate and gets you into that fat-burning mode.  And adding an exercise step allows you to expand into doing strength moves that would require a weight bench making for a full-body workout. More possibilities equals more fun!

    Where To Buy A Step Platform

    A step platform on the floor with Chris Freytag's leg behind it

    Get your own step platform by checking out our top picks below.

    Step Platform Exercises

    Cardio Step Exercises

    Try these 11-step exercises to get your heart rate up.

    1. Up Up Down Down (Also known as the right and left basic steps)

    • 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.

    Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, quads

    2. V-Step

    • 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. 

    Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, quads

    3. Alternating Knee Pull

    • 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. 

    Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, quads

    4. Up and Over

    • 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.

    Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, quads

    5. Burpee

    • 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 (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.) 

    Targets: Chest, arms, glutes, hamstrings, quads, core

    6. Burpee Box Jump

    • 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 (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.

    Targets: Chest, arms, glutes, hamstrings, quads, core

    7. Power Knee Lift On The Step

    • 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. 

    Targets: Glutes, quads, hamstrings

    8. Straddle Feet Up Up Down Down

    • Stand with both feet straddling the step.
    • 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. 

    Targets: Glutes, quads, hamstrings

    9. Lateral Toe Tap

    • 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.

    Targets: Glutes, quads, hamstrings

    10. Surfer Squat

    • 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. 

    Targets: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, core

    11. Mountain Climbers

    • 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. 

    Targets: Core, shoulders, glutes

    Step Platform Strength Exercises

    Practice these 14 step exercises to build strength and muscle.

    1. Bulgarian Split Squat 

    • 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. 

    Targets: Glutes, quads, hamstrings

    2. Incline Push-Up 

    • 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.

    Targets: Chest, shoulders, arms, core

    3. Decline Push-Up

    • 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.

    Targets: Chest, shoulders, arms, core

    4. Alternating Reverse Lunge Off the Step 

    • 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. 

    Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, quads, core

    5. Glute Bridge With Feet On the Step

    • 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.

    Targets: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, core

    6. Renegade Row (R) + Walk the Plank + Renegade Row (L) 

    • 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 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.

    Targets: Back, biceps, core

    7. Bicep Curl With Straddle Step Up Up Down Down 

    • 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. 

    Targets: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, biceps

    8. Tricep Dip

    • 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.

    Targets: Triceps

    9. Straddle Squat Pick Up the DB’s + Squat Put-It-Down 

    • 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.

    Targets: Glutes, quads, hamstrings

    10. Box Jump

    • 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.

    Targets: Glutes, quads

    11. Step-Up With Alternating Shoulder Press

    • Stand on the floor behind the step and hold a dumbbell in each hand by your shoulders.
    • Step your right foot onto the bench. 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 bench and press the right dumbbell overhead. 
    • Continue alternating for the desired number of reps.

    Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, shoulders

    12. Chest Fly 

    • 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.

    Targets: Chest, biceps, shoulders

    13. Overhead Lat Pull With Leg Drop 

    • 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. 

    Targets: Back, biceps, core

    14. Side Plank T-Lift

    • 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.

    Targets: Obliques, core

    Step Platform Core Exercises

    Improve your core strength with these five step exercises.

    1. Core Body Hop 

    • 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. 

    Targets: Obliques, core

    2. Army Crawl Plank

    • 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.

    3. Roll Up + Jump Up 

    • 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.

    Targets: Core, glutes, quads, hamstrings

    4. Side Plank With Hip Dips 

    • 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 or reps. Switch sides. 

    Targets: Core, obliques

    5. Bicycle Twist

    • 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. 

    Targets: Core, obliques

    Step Platform Stretching Exercises

    These three step exercises are a great way to stretch pre- or post-workout.

    1. Elevated Pigeon 

    Chris Freytag performing the elevated pigeon pose on the step platform.
    • 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. 

    Targets: Hips, inner thighs

    2. Calf Stretch

    Chris Freytag showing a calf stretch on a step platform.
    • 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.

    Targets: Calves

    3. Seated Toe Touch

    Chris Freytag stretching on a step platform.
    • 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. 

    Targets: Hamstrings

    Step Platform FAQs

    What is step exercise good for?

    There are many types of step exercises. Depending on which type you do, you can boost fitness, build strength and muscle mass, deepen your stretches, improve balance and coordination, and even lose weight.

    How long should you exercise on a stepper?

    There’s no ideal length of time to exercise on a stepper. However, beginners should start on the shorter side and gradually lengthen their workout time as their fitness improves.  

    Are step classes good for weight loss?

    Step classes are absolutely good for weight loss. They get your heart pumping, which helps burn calories. Just be sure to keep an eye on your diet — you can’t lose weight without healthy nutrition habits.

    Is step aerobics still a good workout?

    Yes! Step aerobics was popular for a reason. It’s a fun, effective workout for building fitness. 

    Step Class Online

    Looking for more step workouts? We’ve got you covered! Check out our free full-length aerobics step workouts. Try out our cardio step, high-intensity interval training step, step strength and full-body circuit workouts.



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