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Find the best aerobic stepper to help you with your fitness journey. If you’re looking for a fun, casual way to exercise, this equipment is a great choice.
One of the issues with exercise is that it often feels out of reach. There can be some big hurdles to overcome, like getting equipment, learning techniques, and finding the right space.
But there are actually a lot of great workouts that you can do at home, without those hurdles. They’re easy to learn and execute, and don’t require complicated equipment. That means more workouts and less fuss.
Step workouts are one great example of this. These workouts are perfect for anyone who wants something that’s both fun and flexible.
If you want to learn more, you can find all you need to know about step workouts below.
And If you’re here for product recommendations, scroll down to the bottom to see our top five steps.
Step Workout Basics
This type of workout can sound a little confusing if you’ve never heard of it before. Luckily, once you’ve got the basics down, it couldn’t be easier.
If you’re interested in this type of workout, here’s what you need to know:
What is a Step?
Essentially, this equipment is an exercise deck. It’s a raised, level platform, that you can step on and off for exercise.
Think of it a bit like running bleachers, or up and down stairs. You have that constant motion of raising your leg to put your foot on the next step.
A stepper is the same thing, just without all the additional climbing. Instead, you’re just stepping on and off this one, individual step.
Another thing that sets these apart is that the platform is free standing. That means you can step on it from the sides, or the front and back. This freedom of movement is what helps make this such a unique cardio workout.
How do You Use Steps?
These items are among the easiest pieces of exercise equipment you can own. To use it, just put it on the floor. That’s it! (Of course, you’ll also want to make sure that everything is secure and level.)
This equipment is designed to be used with step exercises. These are usually just routines that utilize the step as the main focus.
(This is not to be confused with the stepping genre of dance. Step dance routines are a form of art and expression. Step workout routines are purely about exercise, and are only called such because they utilize stepper equipment.)
Naturally, cardio workouts involve a great deal of stepping unto, and then off of the platform. Don’t think of stepping as repetitive though. It’s very different than simply running up and down a flight of stairs, although you’ll get the same cardio benefits.
Cardio routines for this equipment actually have a lot of variety. Depending on the intensity and targeted area, you can find yourself jumping, lunging, kicking, and nearly running on the platform. You’ll also see all of the old cardio favorites, like high knee kicks, side steps, and pivots.
Routines also involve multiple parts of the platform. It’s very rare to have a routine where you’re simply stepping up and down from the middle of deck. Instead, routines make use of the sides and corners too.
Here’s a great example:
It can definitely be a lot to take in for beginners, but you’ll pick up the basics quick. There are also a ton of great routines that were designed for beginners. These routines use simple, repetitive moves to help people get used to stepping.
If you’re looking for routines, there’s a wealth of free ones available on YouTube. You can also find DVDs for sale online, for anyone who prefers the old-fashioned method.
Apart from that, there are other workouts you can do with steps. Check out our guide on aerobic step exercises to get a better understanding of what’s possible with this equipment.
Benefits of Step Workouts
There are plenty of different ways to do cardio, so you may be wondering what sets step workouts apart.
Actually, there are a number of health benefits that result from doing aerobics stepping. There’s also a lot of practical benefits to this type of workout.
Here’s a basic overview of what makes this workout a perennial favorite:
Low Impact Cardio
One of the best benefits of this workout is that it provides low impact, high intensity cardio.
That’s because you’re simply stepping up and down from the platform. You don’t get the same pressure on your knees and feet that you would with running outside or on a treadmill.
You can also change the degree of impact you’ll face when working out. There’s a whole wealth of different routines available, so you can do ones that suit you. If you need low impact activities, stick to simple routines without too much jumping or lunging.
But the ease of these workouts in no way reflects the intensity. You’d be surprised at the level of cardio required. With the right routine, you can really get your heart rate up.
In fact, some routines are similar to jogging or running. They require you to constantly moving your feet at as fast pace, which would obviously work your cardiovascular system.
And that’s what makes these workouts so enjoyable. They feel like an intense cardio session, but they’re not as hard on your body.
This is also a good alternative to other forms of low impact cardio, like biking. Biking is great, but doing a stationary bike at home can get boring.
Step workouts are more involved, and require a lot of movement. They’re much closer to dance workouts than anything else. As such, they’re more fun.
Whole Body Workout
Another benefit of this type of exercise is that you’re working out your whole body.
When doing a step workout, you’re never just moving your legs. Your core will naturally be engaged with most moves. And all routines incorporate some sort of arm movement as well.
That means that you’re never just working out your calves and thighs. And the degree to which that’s true can also be changed.
Routines will require arm movements, as stated. But they aren’t necessarily difficult.
If you want something that will incorporate reps for your arms, then look up routines with that in mind. Plenty of routines available incorporate arm and upper back reps to help you hit all your muscle groups.
The moves will still seem simple. However, doing them over and over, through the course of the routine, will help build muscle.
Another thing you can do, regardless of the routine, is to add weights.
Using hand weights will help you tone up, even if you’re doing a beginner routine. They’re also a way to increase the difficulty of harder routines, if you find that you’re not being challenged.
For your legs, you can add ankle weights. Like the name suggests, these weights are flexible, and wrap around your ankle. (You can also use these around your wrists, as an alternative to hand weights.)
At your ankles, these allow you to increase the difficulty of each different step. That way, you can build more muscle, or make even simple routines a hard workout.
This means that no matter what your fitness level, you can find a step workout that will push you.
Easy to Master
One of my favorite aspects of these workouts is how easy they are to master.
For those of us not blessed with coordination, cardio workouts are a nightmare. There are so many different moves, and most require you to move your arms and legs in different ways, on different beats. It’s quite challenging when you can barely follow along with the leg movements, let alone the rest of your body.
It doesn’t help that most instructors will preview a move only briefly, before launching right into it.
Now there are plenty of people who can keep up with more complex routines at a fast pace. And that’s not to say that you shouldn’t try a complicated workout at all.
However, for us uncoordinated few, step workouts are a great alternative. They mimic the fun and energy of a dance or Zumba workout, without the complex routines.
This is largely because of the limitation of the step. Each move requires you to step onto the platform in some way. That means you’re guaranteed to have at least one small part of the move down before you have to do it.
It also limits the complexity of the moves. You won’t be doing anything too crazy with your legs and hips out of necessity.
You’ll still have to coordinated between your arms and legs, but it’s a little easier without the fancy footwork.
The simpler moves also make routines easier to memorize. That way, you’re not spending half the workout trying to make sure you’re doing the moves right.
Again, that’s not to say that there’s something wrong with aerobic or dance workouts. They’re actually a really great, fun way to get in some cardio.
But for anyone who finds them challenging to keep up with, a step is the perfect alternative.
In this case, we’re not talking about body flexibility. (Although regular exercise and muscle development can certainly help with that.)
One of the things that makes step workouts great is that you can do them just about anywhere. As long as you have a level surface and good clearance around you, you can step. That means they can be done in small apartments just as easily as spacious houses.
They don’t require much set up either. Just throw on a pair of shoes and lay the platform down. There’s no fussing with maintaining a designated work out area or complex storage.
This ease is what makes them such a great choice for home workouts. You can do them just about anywhere, even in small apartments.
The workouts themselves have a similar level of flexibility. They vary widely in terms of difficulty level and time length.
For something quick and easy, you can do a ten or twenty minute beginners routine. You’ll still work up a sweat, but it’s much easier if you just need a quick hit of cardio. It’s also good if you’re trying to ease your way into a more active lifestyle.
These are also great if you want to do several types of workouts. You can get in your cardio, and then switch to weights, Pilates, or whatever else you want.
For a more intense workout, go with a longer routine. There are thirty or sixty minutes for anyone who wants to hit the cardio hard.
There are also the whole-body workouts mentioned previously. These vary in length, but are generally more intense regardless.
The other benefit of longer workouts is that you can find interval ones. Intervals are just workouts that have different levels of intensity. They usually involve easy sections paired with bursts of really intense exercise. HIIT step routines are one popular option you can search.
They’re definitely difficult, but they’re perfect if you love high-energy workouts. They also make a good choice if you want to focus on burning fat or building stamina.
Downsides of Step Workouts
Any exercise is going to involve some level of risk. Step workouts are no exception.
The main danger is that you’ll trip on the platform. If you misstep or slip off, you’re liable to faceplant into the floor or twist your ankle.
In order to prevent this, you need to use caution. Even for fast paced workouts, make sure you’re putting your foot squarely on the platform. If you just step on the corner or the edge, you’re more likely to get injured.
For moves where you do only tap the platform or deck, make sure your other foot is anchored securely. Having one foot planted is going to help you keep your balance, even if you misstep.
With careful steps, you shouldn’t have any problems.
The other main downside to this workout is a practical concern: the noise level. In order to do the routines, you’ll need to stomp around. There’s really no way around that.
It does make less noise than electronic equipment and other cardio activities, like jump rope. However, any heavy footstep is going to make a stomping noise, no matter what surface it’s on.
If you’re on the ground level in your home, it’s more of minor annoyance than it is a problem. For most people, it wouldn’t even be a concern at all.
However, there are circumstances where stomping noises are not desirable.
This is especially true if you live in an apartment that’s not the on the first floor. You’ll need to make sure you’re doing your routine at a reasonable time, when most people are awake. It’s also best to step lightly, if possible.
Types of Steps
As this type of equipment has become more popular, different variations have occurred. Currently, there is a wide range of colors, features, and materials available in the market.
All that variety is great because it makes it easier to find exactly what you need. Unfortunately, it also makes shopping difficult, since you have to narrow all the choices down to just one.
To help you decide which step is best for you, here is a breakdown of all the major options:
The first thing you’ll notice when shopping is that there are a ton of different sizes available. You can get really wide steps that you could probably lay down on comfortably. Or you can get smaller ones, that only take up two feet or so.
The same is true for height. There are platforms that are barely raised off the floor, and there are ones that are surprisingly tall.
Choosing the right one comes down to personal preference.
The wider the platform, the easier it will be to step securely. This is handy if you have large feet, or simply want a sturdier option. These are also better if you plan to use it for calisthenics as well.
The higher the platform, the harder the workout. Forcing yourself to step at a greater height will increase the difficulty level and intensity. Taller options also allow you to use the deck for different activities, like weight lifting.
All things taken into account, a wider, shorter step is probably the best choice for beginners. It will feel more secure, and it won’t be as intense. It’s also better for anyone who needs low impact exercises.
For fitness fans, something taller is better. These options are more versatile, and will allow you to really up the intensity of your workout.
Going along with the variations in size, there are also adjustable options available.
Adjustable options focus on allowing you to have multiple heights in a single platform. With these, you slide feet, or risers, under the platform. Stacking the feet, or using feet of different sizes, changes how high the platform sits.
With some of these sets, you can also use the risers on their own, without the platform. They act as an alternative to a fitness step or plyometric box.
There are also steps that can be raised and adjusted to double as fitness benches. With these, you can do a step workout at a lower height. Then, after the proper adjustments, you can turn it into a bench for weight lifting or other activities.
The benefit of these is that they allow you to adjust the intensity of your workout as you see fit. If you want an easier workout, put it on the lowest setting. If you really want to push yourself, put it on the highest setting.
They’re also more functional. You have a lot more options for what type of workout you can do. And when you’re buying equipment, it’s always nice to get one item that can be used for multiple activities.
The main downside to these is that they’re naturally less secure than options that don’t adjust.
The issue is that you may have a foot that is loose, or that isn’t locked in all the way. If that happens the platform may be wobbly or uneven, which is obviously dangerous. You’re much more likely to trip and hurt yourself on a surface that’s even slightly inclined or unsteady.
Luckily, most manufacturers take this into account. The feet are usually wide and snap in place securely, to make sure that they remain steady.
On your end, you’ll need to check your platform each time before working out. Make sure that the feet are locked firmly in place. You’ll also need to make sure that everything sits level, and that you don’t have a raised, or misplaced foot.
You also need to keep muscle memory in mind when adjusting the heights. If you’re used to doing a routine at a certain height, you may have trouble when switching. You’ll be more likely to trip or misstep.
With that in mind, just use a little extra caution when switching. Just make sure that you take it a little slower at first, to adjust to the new height
Most steps are going to be made of some sort of plastic. It’s the cheapest option, and it just makes sense. You want something sturdy, that can take a bit of beating. At the same time, you don’t want it to be too hard on the feet and joints.
But there are other materials available.
You can also get options that are made primarily of wood, or foam. These are often sold as fitness steps, or plyometric boxes.
The main issue with these is that they tend to be designed for other types of workouts. You don’t usually see a cardio step workout option in these materials.
For a traditional cardio step, plastic is the way to go.
Most steps come in a rectangular shape, with slightly rounded corners. They tend to be wider than they are longer, but some options are closer to being more of a square shape.
However, that’s not the only set of options available.
Some steps come as a set of small squares, that are all different heights. These are similar to aerobic steps, and tend to get lumped into the same category. They are, however, used for very different exercises.
For cardio step workouts, you’ll want to stick to a rectangular shape.
Other options have very rounded edges. They look a bit more like a super elongated oval, than a rectangle.
There’s no real benefit to this shape, so it’s more of an aesthetic thing. I would focus more on other features first, when making a purchase.
The other main difference you’ll see in shape is at the edges of the platform. Some options come with beveled edges. This means that the edges flair out, becoming slightly wider at the bottom.
The more common alternative, is to see edges that are perfectly flat from top to bottom.
Again, there’s no real benefit to either choice. It’s mostly aesthetic.
That said, I personally stay away from beveled edges. I find that I have less opportunity to slip or step wrong on flat edges. Being somewhat clumsy, this is an important point for me.
On a more frivolous note, there’s also a wide range of colors available. This won’t really impact your workout, but it can impact how much you enjoy your purchase.
There are plenty of plain options. Most are going to be grey or black, which is fine.
But there are also bright, bold options.
You can get statement options, like these:
Or you can go with more classic choices, like these:
Colors are most often worked in as an accent, but they’re still nice to see.
As with any item, there are varying levels of quality available.
The first indicator of quality tends to be on the surface of the platform. Quality options will have anti slip foam, or some similar materials on the surface. This is obviously safer, since it makes you less likely to lose your footing.
Lower quality options don’t have these sorts of additions. Instead, they usually have some sort of texture or pattern that’s made directly on the surface of the plastic. This is still helpful, but it does have less grip than the foam.
If you’re concerned about durability, you can check the weight limit of the product. This isn’t always listed, but it’s a good indication of quality. Lower quality, thinner construction will be able to support less weight than higher quality construction can.
Of course, when quality varies, price tends to vary as well. Prices for steps tend to range anywhere from around thirty dollars, to one hundred dollars.
Quality does play a part in this. Options that are more durable, and have higher quality construction, will cost more.
But quality is not always the issue. You can absolutely get a cheap step that works as well as a high-end one. Alternatively, there are steps that cost more, but are not as good.
In some cases, the step is just priced inaccurately. Other times, it’s about the additional features that the step comes with.
Adjustable steps are a good example of this. Since you’re also buying the additional risers, these tend to cost more. This is especially true when you can use the risers individually, and for options that can be transformed into benches.
These are all convenient features, but they are more expensive.
Overall, it comes down to your budget. You can absolutely get a durable, cheap exercise step. It may not have the same features, but it will still be functional. And if you have a larger budget, consider getting an option that has a lot of features to offer.
Best Aerobic Stepper
While it’s good to know all your available options, that doesn’t necessarily make it easier to pick. If you’re still a little lost, don’t worry.
You can start by narrowing it down to the features that are most important to you. Price is often a big one. You may also be more interested in a functional, adjustable option rather than a traditional one. Or maybe there’s one color that you must absolutely coordinate with.
Whatever it is, start with that feature, and narrow it down from there.
And if you’re still feeling pretty indifferent, that’s fine. Reference the list below to help you find some great choices.
Here are our top five picks for the best aerobic stepper options:
A Colorful Choice
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This pink aerobic step is a fun option if you want something with a bit more flair. This option comes in different colors as well. You can even purchase additional, matching risers!
A Functional Choice
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This exercise steps and risers set is great if you want to do more than just cardio.
The risers on this option can actually be stacked together and used as a separate fitness step. This smaller platform is great for use with plyometric or calisthenic focused workouts.
A Popular Choice
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Reebok Step is super popular. Adjustable, the risers are designed to give you stability. They also sit pretty high when added on.
This Reebok aerobic step is a popular option. It’s adjustable, and the risers are specifically designed to give you stability.
The risers are also super convenient if you need a portable aerobic step. There’s only one set, since it’s their positioning that changes the height. That means you have less to carry when transporting your step.
An Affordable Choice
For an adjustable step, it’s hard to beat this price.
This option is affordable, and good quality. It comes with two different height options, and the deck is a good size for more exercises.
If you’re new to steppers, or just want to try them out, it’s the perfect choice.
A Longer Choice
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This long aerobic step is ideal for anyone who likes versatile exercises.
At this length, you can easily use it as a weight bench. It’s also idea for use with certain calisthenic moves, such as ab exercises, push-ups, and tricep dips. Overall, if you’re into more than just cardio, this is a good choice.
Getting More out of Your Fitness Journey
The start of any fitness journey is the most difficult part. You have to sort out what you want to do, and how you’ll manage to do it. Equipment like steps helps to make that initial hurdle a little easier to overcome.
Versatile, easy, and affordable, steps are the ideal item to add to, or even start, you home gym.
Check out are picks for best aerobic stepper, and see how it can change your fitness.