List of Step Bench Workouts

Get in shape with a step aerobics class.

Get in shape with a step aerobics class.

No, it’s not a flashback to the 1980s; the step bench is still alive and well. Though this elevated exercise tool was at the core of the popular 1980s fitness fad -- step aerobics -- the step bench can actually be incorporated into numerous types of workouts. Using the step in your cardio or strength training routine allows you to mix up your workout and add variation to traditional fitness exercises. Do keep in mind that step aerobics became a craze because of its effectiveness, so there’s no shame in putting on your cross trainers and stepping your way to buns of steel.

The Step Bench

Though the step bench became popular through the use of step aerobics, it is actually a multi-function piece of exercise equipment. The bench is a platform that can be adjusted to different heights for different purposes using fitted block risers. You can use the step bench during a warm-up session, as a standalone cardio workout or as a prop when strength training the various muscle groups in your body, such as your abdominals, hamstrings or chest. Versatile and fairly inexpensive, the step bench can be a beneficial addition to a home gym.

Step Aerobics

A form of cardio exercise popular in the 1980s and 1990s, step aerobics uses the step bench to add elevation to your workout. Whereas most types of cardiovascular activity are forward moving, such as running, or stationary, like the stationary bicycle or elliptical trainer, step aerobics allows you to move up and down, which works your lower body muscles in a unique way. Step classes, which are often found at gyms and fitness clubs, are set to music and range from low impact to a dynamic or fast-paced workout. Dance moves are often choreographed to the upbeat music, making the workout fun as well as efficient.

Core Training

The step bench can help you to train your core. Raising one end of the step bench and performing crunches at an incline, for example, can intensify the traditional move. The bench gives you leverage for the V-up, allowing you to hold onto the edges of the step as you lean slightly back and raise your feet in the air. Plank exercises are given a varied angle when performed on the step. Start in a pushup position with your hands on a step bench set at 12 to 18 inches off the floor. Separate your feet to be shoulder-width apart. Turn your hips to be perpendicular to the bench and raise your top arm toward the ceiling. Hold for one count, then slowly return and repeat on the other side.

Strength Training

Almost every muscle group in your body can be strengthened with the use of a step bench. Lunges, squats and step-ups, with or without resistance, can help to strengthen your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings. Calf raises, with your heels hanging off of the bench, work your calves. Bench presses to train your chest can be performed by lying on your back on a raised bench with your feet flat on the floor. Pushups with either your feet or upper body elevated on the bench can work your back, shoulders and triceps. Being creative in your use of the step bench during your strength-training workout can make your fitness program more enjoyable.

 

About the Author

Based in San Francisco, Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis," "American Fitness" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images