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27 Best Step Exercises: VIDEOS | OriGym

There is a lot more you can do with just a step than you may initially think that can provide you with a tough workout for both cardio, fitness and tone. The great thing about these step exercises or plyo box exercises as they’re also referred, is that you can do them at home, at your gym or your local park.

What are Step aerobic exercises?

Step aerobic exercises are movements performed utilising a step box where you utilise the step to step up, down or manoeuvre around the step.

What are step exercises good for?

Step box exercises a great for achieving cardiovascular fitness, muscle tone and muscular endurance.  You can adapt the height of the step to suit your capabilities and fitness goals:

  1. Looking to build muscle Very High Platform - 8 - 12 REPs
  2. Looking for tone – High Height Platform - 12-20 REPs
  3. Muscular Endurance – Medium Height Platform - 12-20 REPs
  4. Stability / Cardiovascular – Low Height Platform – 20+REPs or Timed for a set period, normally over 1 minute depending on the exercise.

Let’s jump into our best box exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home. We have broken these down for you into 2 categories:

  • Beginner
  • Advanced

 

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Beginner Step Exercises

These following step workout exercises give you a good foundation before moving onto more complex movements found later in this article. 

High Knee March

The high knee march is a good warm-up or beginner aerobic step exercise to get your blood flowing and warm-up the muscles harnessed for more strenuous and complex movements within your aerobic workout routine, which we will show you later in this article. 

How to do the high knee march: 

  • You do not need the step for this exercise, but it’s good to keep it in front of you for transition into other movements.
  • Stand in a natural position, with your feet and head facing forward and arms down by your side.
  • Lift your right leg, using your left arm to help with momentum as high as you go whilst keeping your torso upright.
  • As you return to the starting position, repeat this movement on the opposite side. This is one repetition.

Low Step-Ups

Low step ups are a great step exercise for seniors, individuals with low fitness levels or as a good warm up for more advanced step box exercises. Increase the tempo to increase the stress on your heart, lungs and cardiovascular system. 

How to do low step ups: 

  • Place the box in front of you with arms in a natural position by your side.
  • Step onto the box with your right first and then step on to the box with your left leg
  • Step back off the box with your right foot first and then followed by your left.
  • Repeat, leading with your alternate foot first and repeat for desired repetitions. 

Box Squat Jump

This step toning exercise is a great compound movement to develop your qauds, hamstrings and glutes all in one motion. 

How to do the Box Squat Jump:

  • Sit on the box with toes pointing forward and legs wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Keep your arms out in front and hands together for balance
  • Breathe out and drive from your feet through your quads, allowing you to explode upwards projecting your hands backwards for extra elevation.
  • Land with your knees bent and take a big breath in as you lower back to the starting position.
  • Not allowing your muscles to rest, repeat the movement as your bottom touches the box. 

Lift and Reach

Another good plyo box exercise is the Lift and reach. This whole-body movement will engage your core, work your posterior deltoids (front of the shoulder), hamstrings and glutes as well as raising your resting heart rate. 

How to do the Lift and Reach:

  • Start with the box in front of you with your arms down by your side
  • Put your right foot on the left centre side of the step box with toes facing at a 45-degree angle.
  • Extend your left leg back and high, whilst moving your arms from your waist up and out in a smooth arc until they’re shoulder level.
  • Repeat the movement on the opposite side.

High Knee and Push

The high knee and push is one of the best step exercises you can do. It works multiple muscles groups at once through a functional motion including your core, chest, triceps and qauds which is great for tone, cardio and endurance.

How to do the Hugh Knee and Push: 

  • Start with the box in front of you with your arms down by your side
  • Put your right foot on the left centre side of the step box with toes facing at a 45-degree angle.
  • Using your planted foot for stability, drive your opposite leg up with your knee bent whilst pulling your arms up until they meet.
  • Release in a controlled movement and repeat on the opposite side.

Centre Hop and Squat

The centre hop and squat are a high intensity aerobic step exercise that should be incorporated in your next step workout. It works all the major muscle groups in the legs, lower back and core, whilst putting your fitness levels to the test.

How to do the centre hop and squat: 

  • Place the step with the small end facing you and stand either side of the box, feet facing forward.
  • Jump with both feet with the aim to land in the middle of the box with feet touching or close to touching.
  • Spring your feet back off the box and go into a squat down over the box in a controlled fashion.
  • Drop one hand down and touch the box, before repeating the movement and alternating the hand you put down on each repetition.

Side Steps and High Kicks

Side steps and high kicks are a great step exercise at home or in the gym that will activate your quads, core and act as a fantastic part of a cardio workout. 

How to do side steps and high kicks:

  • Start with the box in front of you with your arms down by your side
  • Put your right foot on the left centre side of the step box with toes facing at a 45-degree angle.
  • As you drive your opposite leg with a bent knee as high as you can go with toes pointing forward bring your arms up and round until they meet.
  • Repeat the movement on the opposite side.


Hop and Jack

The hop and Jack exercise with a step targets both your cardiovascular fitness and helps you tone your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps and works well as part of overall leg and aerobic workout:

How to do the hop and jack: 

  • Start with the plyo box in front of you and feet wider than shoulder width apart.
  • With a small jump bring your feet in together until they touch, before jumping back out. Repeat this twice before jumping with both feet forward onto the box shoulder width apart.
  • As you land, squat down with your arms in front of you and hands together and try and go as low as you can safely go before springing back off the step back to the starting position.


Side to Side Knees

Side to side knees requires extra core engagement and practice to keep you from toppling over. It is an explosive plyometric box exercise targeting your quads and abdominal muscles.

How to do side to side knees:

  • Start with the box in front of you and arms in a natural position
  • Put your right foot on the left centre side of the step box with toes facing at a 45-degree angle.
  • Keeping your right foot stable, bring your left knee up in a fast motion whilst touching your hands together.
  • Lower your driving leg back down without touching the floor before driving it back up again without losing the tension in your core and standing leg. Repeat one more time, before switching sides.


Row and Lift

The best step box exercises that you can incorporate for your back, glutes, hamstrings and core all whilst building up a sweat is the row and lift. It is like the high knee and push in reverse and ensures your hitting every muscle group during your aerobics workout.

 How to do the row and lift: 

  • Place the plyometric box in front of you and stand behind it with feet shoulder width apart.
  • Put your right foot on the left centre side of the step box with toes facing at a 45-degree angle.
  • Raise your arms out in front of you without bending your elbows whilst raising your back leg back behind you as high as you can go.
  • Pull both your arms back in an explosive fashion until your arms at least right angles to your body whilst lowering your leg back to the floor.
  • Repeat this movement on the opposite side.

Step-Up With Knee Drive

The step knee drive is shockingly a combination of the knee drive and the step up. This step toning exercise develops your core, balance, hamstrings and quads, which you can increase the difficulty by increasing the height of the box. 

How to do step-up knee drives: 

  • Stand with the step in front of you with hands together.
  • Place your right foot on to the box and then drive from your leg through your foot to lift you opposite leg up.
  • With a 90-degree bent knee drive your left leg up towards the ceiling as high as you can go whilst sustaining your balance and hold for a split second before slowly lowering your leg back to the floor.
  • Repeat the movement for desired number of reps.

Advanced Step Exercises

If you're a more advanced trainer or worked have a good level of fitness and core strength, then moving onto the more advanced exercises with a step is a good idea. These exercises can be adapted by simply lowering the height of the box or reducing the intensity that you perform them.

Step-Ups

Step ups are one of the go to box exercises that you need to master in order to progress onto other step exercises such as lateral step ups, knee drives or crossover steps ups. They work your quads, calves, core and help with building muscle, tone and strength.

How to do step-ups: 

  • Place the box a foot or so in front of you with arms down by your side or with hands together in front of your body.
  • Using your right leg, step onto the box and push through your front heel to lift your left leg up.
  • Fully extend you right leg until your left leg is level with the box before slowly releasing back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for desired repetitions, before switching legs.

Weighted Step Up Knee Drives

One of the more advanced step exercises as it adds additional mass to your bodyweight. This can be performed with either with either plates or dumbbells, just start on a small weight and progress up to heavier weights with practice. This step workout exercise hits your quads and challenges your core to keep you steady whilst working stabiliser muscles such as trapezius and forearms.

To improve your grip strength when performing step board exercises such as these, see our best forearm exercises for grip here.

How to do weighted step-up knee drives:

  • Stand with the step in front of you with either plates or dumbbells in each hand that you feel comfortable with.
  • Place your right leg firmly onto the box and drive upwards through your feet
  • Bring your opposite leg up in a bent knee position as high as you can go before releasing back to the starting position.
  • Once you have completed your repetitions, repeat on the opposite side.


Crossovers on Step

Crossovers using a step, looks like a simple enough aerobic step exercise, and it is, but you will notice how much your legs start burning after a very short time period and how that can affect your co-ordination. This exercise is a real fat burner and when performed for a minute or two, your quads, hip flexors and calfs will start to feel the effect.

How to do Crossovers on steps:

  • Place the box long ways on the floor and stand parallel to the right-hand side of the step with arms in a relaxed position.
  • Leading with your right foot, place this onto the box and then allow your body to twist to allow your left leg over to manoeuvre to other side of the step.
  • Push off with your right leg to the other side of the step and the repeat the step exercise back in the other direction leading with your left leg.


Slalom Jumps / Lateral Box Jumps

From one aerobic step exercise to another, the slalom jump! Similar to the above crossovers, this will challenge not just your fitness levels, but also your co-ordination and stabiliser muscles in your core.

How to do Slalom Jumps:

  • Place the box long ways on the floor and stand parallel to the right-hand side of the step with arms in a relaxed position and feet together.
  • In a lateral motion, jump on the box, ensuring your body is still facing forward.
  • As you land, continuing in a lateral movement spring yourself over to the left-hand side of the box. Repeat this movement in the opposite direction for the desired number of repetitions. 

Straight Arm Plank Ups

One of the great dynamic step exercises for seniors and individuals looking to develop their core without the use of specific equipment to build a solid foundation for other movements.

Straight arm plank ups, are suitable for all abilities, they simply get harder the more you do or the longer you hold them. This step toning exercise will harness your triceps, chest and place huge emphasis on your core.

How to do the straight arm plank up: 

  • Place the box long ways on the floor.
  • Get into a press position with hands either side of the box and your chest over the middle of the box.
  • Now place one hand onto the box and push down firmly to then lever your other arm onto the box.
  • Now remove one hand at a time back to the floor before repeating the movement, ensuring to alternate which hands is placed into the box in each repetition.

Burpee Step-Ups

Burpee steps ups are and advancement of low step ups, designed to get your aerobic system working to its maximum.  These step workout exercises will help improve fitness, muscular endurance, stamina and help with fat loss.

How to do burpee step ups

  • Set-up and perform a low step up in the same way as the low step up.
  • The place your hands on the box as if you were doing a press up.
  • Using your arms as stabilisers, throw your legs back until almost fully extended.
  • Pushing from your legs through your feet try to explode forward until your legs are as close to the box as possible.
  • Using your hands and legs push yourself back up to the starting position and repeat for desired repetitions.


Alternative Toe Touches

Alternate toe touches are one of the most demanding plyo box exercises that you can do. Great exercise for toning your quads whilst applying huge pressure to your cardiovascular system, which is ideal for improving your fitness levels and achieving fat loss.

How to do alternative to touches: 

  • Stand with the box a few feet in front of you with arms down by your side.
  • Starting with your right leg, lift it and touch the edge of the box for a split second with the sole of your feet, whilst using the opposite arm to assist you.
  • As soon as your foot returns back to the starting position, instantly repeat this movement with your left leg and continue in this fashion for the desired number of repetitions. 

Bulgarian Split Squats

One of the best step toning exercises for your legs on this list is the Bulgarian split squats. They largely work your quads and glutes with hamstrings, soleus and core acting as stabilisers and can be executed literally anywhere such as using the sofa at home or park bench for example.

  • Position the box a few feet behind you and extend your right leg back and onto the box with the top of your foot on the box.
  • Keeping your torso upright and head facing forward lower your left leg until your leg is horizontal and in line with your toes.
  • Drive up from your front heel until back to the starting position and then repeat using the opposite leg.
  • To place more emphasis on your hip flexors, move further away or to place more emphasis on your quads move slightly closer to the step.

Crossover Step-Ups

Crossover step-ups are a more advanced step board exercise that takes co-ordination, balance, strength and a strong core. They target the adductors, quadriceps, calves and help activate your stabiliser muscles. 

How to do crossover step ups? 

  • Stand to the right-hand side of the box with your right foot on the step and your left foot on the floor slightly behind your right leg.
  • Drive up through your right foot to lift your left leg up until it is level with the box before slowly releasing back to the starting positon.
  • Repeat for desired number of repetitions and then switch sides and legs.

Decline Fast Feet Shuffle

An intermediate aerobic step exercise is the decline fast feet shuffle, one of those exercises that is harder than it looks. It is a high intensity exercise, that will burn calories, fat and help with tone in the back of your arms (triceps) as well as your legs. 

How to do the decline fast feet shuffle:

  • Get into a press-up position with the step a metre or so behind you.
  • Keeping your upper body and arms in a fixed position drive one foot back to touch the box edge of the box, then move your left leg back to also be on the box so your supported just by your arms.
  • As your left foot this the box, release your right foot back to the starting positon followed by your left foot.
  • Repeat this movement for desired repetitions but try to mix up which foot you lead with.

Eccentric Step-Down

The eccentric step-down is a very different step exercise to what is on this list as it works in reverse to the step-up working your muscles through an eccentric movement, which is great for targeting your slow twitch muscle fibres in your quads and developing balance and tone. 

How to do eccentric step-downs:

  • Using your right foot, step up onto the box in front of you, until your leg is fully extended either with your arms by your side or with hands together in front of you.
  • Keeping both feet facing forward, very slowly lower your left leg back to the floor, controlling your balance and speed of decline through your right quadriceps.
  • Repeat for desired number of repetitions and then switch sides and legs.

Lateral Step-Ups 

Lateral step exercises work in a similar manner to the Bulgarian split squat, working your quadriceps and core. This movement is ideal if you’re looking to put on muscle or tone and can be adapted by changing the height of the box to make the movement easier or harder. 

How to do lateral step-ups:

  • Start with your right leg firmly planted on the box with your left foot on the floor.
  • Pushing through your right foot, lift your left leg up until your right leg is fully extended.
  • Slowly release back to the stating position and then repeat for desired repetitions before changing legs.

Step-Up Jumps

These step exercises will really burn your quads and push your lactic threshold to the maximum. Increase the speed of the inter-change between feet or add weights in each hand to increase the difficulty of this movement.

How to do step-up jumps:

  • Start with the box in front of you and arms down by your side.
  • In explosive fashion, place on foot onto the box in front of you ensuring the whole of your foot is on the box. Use your opposite arm to help propel you onto the box.
  • As your foot leaves the box, your opposite foot will push off the floor and onto the box using the opposite arm to propel.
  • This is one repetition. Repeat the movement for the desired number of reps.


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Conclusion

There you have it, the top step exercises you can do from home. If you're new to step board exercises or fitness in general, start with the beginner ones and then progress onto the intermediate and advanced movements after a few weeks of practice.

If you have a passion for fitness, why not turn your passion to helping others by becoming a qualified PT, fitness instructor or nutrition specialist. Simply drop us an enquiry below to find out more on your new career or download our latest prospectus.

 

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Written by Luke Hughes

CEO

Luke is the CEO for OriGym, with a masters degree and 1st class honours degree in sport and exercise science and is a qualified personal trainer. Luke loves playing football and running, but his main passion is for cycling, where he can often be found cycling round the Lake District on a Sunday afternoon!