Did you know that Dr Kenneth Cooper originally created aerobics to keep astronauts healthy? Neither did we, but we thank him every day for it. We have come a long way, and in the 60 plus years since its conception, there is a multitude of aerobic exercises and accessories to choose from— it’s not just for astronauts anymore!
One of those accessories, as you may already know from the title, is the Aerobic Step. Some may say it’s dated, but those people do not realise the excellent workout you can get on the humble step. We’ve rounded up some exercises that will strengthen, tone, AND burn fat. Giving a complete all-round workout and showing our support to the simple aerobic step, making sure no one will ever look down (figuratively) at the step again.
1. Incline Push Up
Incline push-ups target the middle to lower chest region, taking some of the pressure off the shoulders and triceps. They are great for anyone who finds a full push-up too difficult. To do this with your step, you will need to place your hands on the edge of the bench or platform, slightly wider than shoulder-width. Position your feet back from the step with arms and body straight. Arms should be perpendicular to the body. Keeping your body straight, lower your chest to the edge of the step by bending your arms. Push your body up until your arms are extended, hold, and come back down slowly. Repeat until all reps are completed.
Even though it's a simple movement, the incline push-up targets the main muscles of the chest and the major and minor pectorals. Not only that, but it engaged the deltoids, triceps, and your lower body, such as back, hips, and legs. Talk about a full-body workout!
2. Decline Push Up
The Decline Push Up works the upper chest and front shoulders (delts) more than the regular or incline variation. You will need to place your body in a push up position with your feet on the step, fully stretched out and hands on the ground on either side of your chest. Locking your elbows and keeping your body straight, lower your chest to the floor, hold, and push back to your starting position. Repeat for number of necessary reps.
The pectoralis is the focus of this exercise. It is another version of the original push-up, but it changes the difficulty by bringing in the step. It is a great exercise to increase your functional fitness. What is functional fitness, you ask? Functional fitness is a type of training that prepares your body for real-life movements and activities.
Bear in mind this is an advanced exercise, so only do it if you feel confident you can. If you can't do it, don’t be disheartened! Try a simpler version and work your way up. Progress is progress, no matter how big or small it may seem!
3. Elevated Kettlebell Sumo Squat
This exercise allows you to get great depth in your squat, effectively targeting your gluteus maximus and quads (take note anyone wanting that squat booty!). To do this, you will need two steps and a kettlebell. Place each foot on each step in a wide stance, pointing your toes outward. Hold the kettlebell in front of you between your legs and squat down until the kettlebell touches the floor, come up, squat down again, and repeat until you have completed the necessary reps.
This is an excellent way of building and strengthening your lower body muscles. It also serves to increase stability and improve your overall balance. Squatting is another functional fitness exercise that targets the muscles you use daily for walking, jumping, running, and climbing stairs. This exercise engages your core as you squat down, giving an extra challenge that the conventional squat doesn't.
4. Toe Tap
This cardio routine is a great one for warming up or a HIIT workout. Stand behind the step and lightly place one toe on it, with your knee bent. You will only need to rest your toe here, putting no weight on it. Quickly lift your foot, and alternate the feet tapping the step. Complete these movements rapidly to get your heart rate going.
This exercise engages your lower body muscles — quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hips, and calves. By changing toes so quickly to tap off the step, this exercise is a combination of cardio and aerobics. The cardio will increase your heart and get you working up a quick sweat, which burns calories.
Another significant benefit of this exercise is that it engages your core. By strengthening your core, you increase your fitness and athletic performance, giving you more endurance for your next workout. What more could you want?
5. Low Step-Ups
For this exercise, start by putting the box in front of you with your arms by your side. Step onto the box with your right foot and then bring your left foot up to meet it. Step back off the box with your right foot and bring your left foot down to meet it. Repeat.
You may tell from the simplicity of this one that this is suited to people with low fitness levels or who are older and less mobile. If you really want to feel the benefits of this exercise, then increase the tempo. It will get your heart pumping! It's a great way to increase power in your legs, building muscle and increasing stamina.
6. High Knee and Push
Have your step in front of you and your arms down by your side. Bring your right foot to the left centre at a 45-degree angle. Plant your foot for stability and drive your opposite leg up, bringing your knee up in front of you, pulling your arms up so that they meet the knee.
Bring your left foot back down in a controlled movement. Stepping off the step with your right foot, repeat on the other side.
This exercise is excellent for targeting multiple muscle groups at the same time through one movement. It helps increase your endurance, as, after a few reps, you will begin to feel the workout all over. It helps your core, chest, triceps, and quads, all at the same time! Make sure to play some upbeat music with this exercise. It will add fluidity to the overall movement.