22 Feb

The Aerobic Step–Everything You Need to Know in 2019

The Aerobic Exercise Step (The Forgotten Fitness Tool Every Woman Should Own)

Looking for something that’ll light a fire under your exercise program?

Look no further…

Here’s all the information you need to buy and use the hottest fitness product on the market today–the aerobic step.

Have you ever thought about buying an aerobic step but then put it off because you had a bunch of questions (and weren’t quite sure where to find the answers)?

You’re not alone.

But you’ve come to the right place.

I’ve been doing step workouts for over 10 years.  And I’ve got your answers.

Stay with me for a few seconds and learn:

  • the difference between a circuit step and a gym-sized aerobic step
  • the different features that are important in your aerobic step
  • how many calories you might burn doing exercises with your step
  • and some of my favorite recommendations for step routines.

This infographic shows you 5 of the 12 FAQ’s about aerobic steps that I’ll cover in this post

And this is a complete list of everything you’re going to find out by the end of this post…

What is an aerobic step?

A short platform designed specifically as an exercise tool. Keep reading to learn more…

What size (dimension) should my aerobic step be? (And why it’s important for your safety)

43 x 16 is the safest size and the model that’ll get you the most bang for your buck in your workouts. Learn more about how the size effects your safety below…

What’s a circuit step?

Circuit steps are smaller and lighter models of the classic aerobic step. Find out why I don’t recommend them…

How hard are step workouts and step exercises?

As hard (or easy) as you want them to be. You can use an aerobic (exercise) step in hundreds of different ways in your workouts so it’s easy to modify any routine to fit your needs. Keep reading to get more details…

How do step routines work your body?

There are step routines in almost every style of workout so you can use an aerobic step to do cardio and work every major muscle group. Learn more below…

Will you burn more calories using an aerobic step? What are the benefits of step aerobics? Are they effective?

The short answer is yes! But you’ll want to check out my case study results below to find out more…

How long are workouts that use an aerobic step?

As long or short as you need. There are step workouts in every exercise style and length. If you need help finding step workouts keep reading…

Can I use an aerobic step to work my abs and core? (Will an exercise step help me get six-pack abs?)

Yes! Here’s the cool thing about using an aerobic step—every time you place your foot up on something you engage your core.  What?! How? Find out how it works in the full post below…

Can I use weights (dumbbells) with my aerobic step?

Yep. You can use a gym sized step as a weight bench but there are so many more ways you can combine dumbbell work with your aerobic step. I’ve included some graphics and examples below…

How many days a week (how often) should I do step workouts?

The answer will vary depending on your fitness abilities, your fitness goals and how you’re using your step. I’ll share some guidelines that’ll help.

Where can I buy the best aerobic step?


Where can I find some good step workouts?

Luckily there are a lot of places you can find step workouts. I share some of my favorites below…

When you’re done with this article you’ll feel confident that you know everything there is to know about buying and using an aerobic step.

**And I think you’ll discover that an aerobic step is the perfect way to spice up your workout routine.**

If you use one of my links to purchase something it helps support my business.  Thank you! (No hard feelings if you don’t.)  You can get more information about that here.

a girl in a high plank position with her feet on an aerobic step

What is an aerobic (exercise) step?

What is an exercise step?

Exercise step, fitness step, exercise platform, aerobic step, exercise bench…these are all common terms for the same fitness product.

An aerobic step is a short platform designed specifically as a fitness tool.

The original step design was created for step aerobics and a lot of people still think of traditional step routines (that use dance-style moves) when they see exercise step equipment—but things have changed.

Today aerobic step equipment is incorporated into almost every fitness style.

You’ll see an exercise step used for high-intensity interval (HiiT) training, plyometric exercises, low-impact circuits, weight training (sculpting and toning with dumbbells) and traditional step aerobics.

Another words >> An aerobic step is one of the very best pieces of exercise equipment for TOTAL BODY FITNESS.

The versatility of a fitness step is why it’s my favorite fitness tool (and the one I recommend women purchase if they’re looking for ONE piece of exercise equipment to invest in).

✔Next, I’ll tell you what size aerobic step you’ll need, the difference in a circuit step and a gym-sized step and the different features of a step (and why they’re important).

You can read the answers or hear all about them in this video that compares a gym-sized step (like the ones made by One Strong Southern Girl) to a circuit sized step and breaks down all the features for you to see:

✔Keep reading to find out what kinds of exercises you can do with your aerobic step, whether step routines work your abs and my recommendations for workouts you can try with your aerobic step.

Click here to go see the prices of the aerobic steps by One Strong Southern Girl.

What size (dimensions) should my aerobic step be?  Why?

What size (dimensions) should my fitness step be?

If you do a quick search on Google you’ll quickly discover there’s a big range of prices and styles of aerobic steps.

For the love of monkeys do NOT pick out the exercise platform you’re going to buy based on the price.

Girls, size matters when it comes to your fitness step.

Don’t minimize the importance of this decision.

The equipment you own directly affects your exercise routine.  If your equipment is safe, versatile and beautiful then you’re more likely to do the thing you bought it for.

I recommend you buy a professional sized step that’s approximately 43 inches x 16 inches.  This model normally comes with 4 risers so that you can do exercises at a 4, 6 or 8 inch height.

“But Mickie, that’s kind of big.  I’d rather have something more compact,” you say.

Yes, it’s bigger than some of the other models—but it’s also safer.

Consider this:  Your step is a target for your feet (for the majority of the exercises you use it for).

black and white target with an arrow

And most of the time you’ll be moving when you place your feet on that target. 

I’ve been doing step exercises for over 10 years and have owned smaller steps.

It’s very easy to misplace your foot on a small target when your eyes are on the TV or your legs are at that point in the workout when they’ve become the weight of 2 giant cinderblocks.

3 aerobic steps in a row comparing the circuit size to a gym sized step
Circuit sized steps (the black steps) vs. gym-sized aerobic steps (the red one). Circuit steps are a small target for your feet and body.

So, the most important reason you need an exercise platform that’s 43 inches x 16 inches (like the red one in the picture above) is for SAFETY.

The second reason you need an aerobic step that’s 43 x 16 is because of FUNCTION.

Occasionally, you’re going to want to use your step to do exercises on your back.

A small step isn’t big enough for these exercises.  You won’t have full support of your head and back with a smaller step.

You need a big exercise bench for supine exercises

The third reason you need an aerobic step that’s 43 inches x 16 inches is because of DESIGN.

The gym-sized steps are crafted on a large base with rubber attachments underneath that protect your floor and keep the step in place during use.

The risers used with the 43” steps are designed to go together and fit under the step. 

The risers also have rubber attachments for safety.

The tops of many of the larger steps (not all of them) are soft.  This rubber covering is comfy on your hands and back and a non-slip surface for your feet.

What’s a circuit step? The circuit step vs. a gym-style aerobic step…

What is a circuit step?

The ‘circuit size’ steps are not full size.

comparison of a circuit step and a professional sized aerobic step

A circuit step is approximately 25 inches x 16 inches and comes with 1 set of risers to go up to a height of 4 inches, but there’s no standard size for a circuit step.  You’ll see a range of sizes that are all small versions of a gym-sized step.  

Pro TipRemember to check out the short video at the top of this post where I show you the difference between a gym sized step (that’s 43 x 16) and a circuit step.

How hard are step workouts and step exercises?

How hard are step workouts and step exercises?

There are step routines and step exercises for every fitness level.

Like all exercise programs and equipment you need to be aware of your own skill level before you try new or different exercises.

If you’re a beginner, start with no risers under your step whenever you do a workout.  Add risers as you get comfortable with the routine and your step equipment.

Remember that there are SO MANY MORE exercise options than just traditional step aerobics.  Take the time to research the variety of exercise style you can incorporate with your step.

You can do plyometrics, circuit training, high or low-impact exercises, toning and sculpting with dumbbells, high-intensity interval training and compound training (using multiple muscle groups at once).

How do step routines work your body? (What are the benefits of step aerobics/exercises?)

How do step exercises work? What are the benefits of step aerobics?

An exercise (aerobic) step will work your body however you want it to.  The possibilities are endless.

You can use a step for cardio, toning or (my preference) workouts that do both.

Take a look at these videos that demonstrate how you can use a fitness step for high-impact, low-impact, compound exercises, sculpting and plyometric routines:

Will you burn more calories using an aerobic step?  Are step exercises effective (a good workout)?

Will you burn more calories using a fitness step?

The short answer is yes!

Think about it.  Using a step when you exercise means that (most of) your moves will be bigger.  That means your body will be working harder (your heartrate will be higher) and you’ll burn more calories.

Don’t believe it?

I tested this idea on myself by doing the same group of exercises without a step, using a step with one riser on each side and using 2 risers on each side.

I did the exercises for equal amounts of time and recorded my heart rate and the calories I burned.

My results?

I burned 26% more calories doing the same exercise on a step with 2 risers per side than I did doing the exercises on the floor.

You can check out the full case study:

How I Burn 26% More Calories in a Workout—A Case Study

How long are workouts that use an aerobic step?

How long are workouts that use an aerobics step?

Step workouts are just like any other fitness routine…they can be any length you want.

For example, you can set the length of your workout by doing circuit intervals* with your step.

*WORKOUT IDEAI like to do one-minute exercise intervals using my step (followed by 45 second rests.)  I do 10 exercises (5 toning/sculpting exercises with dumbbells and 5 intense cardio moves) and then repeat them all through one more circuit for a total body calorie-crushing routine.

Or find a step routine on You Tube.  Here’s a great beginner routine:

Or you can purchase a few aerobic step videos.

Cathe Friedrich has a TON of options and she creates new workouts all the time.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

Plyo HiiT Two

PHA Training

*There are more suggestions for step workout videos a little bit further down in this post…

So, you get to decide how long (or short) your step workout will be.

Can I use an aerobic step to work my abs and core?  (Will an exercise bench help me get six-pack abs?)

Will an exercise step work my core and abs? A fitness step is the best exercise equipment for total body fitness.


Here’s the cool thing about using an aerobic step—every time you place your foot up on something you engage your core.  What?! How?

The thing is…when you step up your muscles naturally adjust to maintain balance.

The first muscle group we think about engaging for step workouts are our legs.

But your core muscles (abdominal and back muscles) are actually working just as hard to keep you from falling while you redistribute your weight.

And when you do step-ups with dumbbells or exercises like this:

compound exercises using a step are great for toning your abs and core muscles
A compound exercise using an aerobic step that’s great for your core.

You can really sculpt and define your core muscles.

Can I use weights (dumbbells) with my aerobic step?

Can I use weights with my fitness step?


There are SO MANY exercises you can do using a step.

👉PRO TIP>>If you’ve never worked out on an exercise platform before then start with light weights and no risers in place the first few times you do any moves holding dumbbells.

You can do isolation exercises like static lunges (doing a single-leg lunge in place with your back foot on the step and dumbbells held in each hand) or step-ups.

you can do static lunges with an exercise step and dumbbells
A static lunge using an exercise step
you can do step-ups on to your exercise platform holding dumbbells
Step-ups with dumbbells and a fitness step

And you can do compound exercises with dumbbells like a chest fly with a double leg extension (lying on your step) or a dumbbell curl or overhead press while you do step-ups.

👉PRO TIP—Proper form is VERY important when you do compound exercises.  If you’re doing a compound move for the first time try it with no weights and with your feet on the floor.  Move to your step and add dumbbells when you’re ready.

How many days a week (how often) should I do workouts using my aerobic step?

How many days a week (how often) should I do workouts using my exercise platform?

Well, how many days a week do you exercise?

You can use a step for every style of exercise so there’s no reason you can’t use a step for every single workout.

The most effective workout schedules mix up workout styles so that you get a blend of intense cardio, weight-training and interval training during the week.  And all of your muscles and joints will need a holiday at some point.  So, plan out your weekly workouts with those things in mind.

*As reference, I exercise 5-6 days/week and incorporate my step into my workout 3-4 of those days.

Where can I buy an aerobic (exercise) step?

Where can I buy an exercise step? Where can I buy an aerobic step?
You can buy a beautiful aerobic step from my online store

You can find them in pink and blue and with 4 or 6 risers. You can use the link above to navigate over to the store or buy from right here in this post using the ‘buy now’ buttons below…

✔You can buy a beautiful aerobic step from Amazon

No matter where you decide to buy your aerobic step from, make sure you buy a step that’s approximately 43 inches by 16 inches and comes with at least 4 risers.

You’ll be happier with a larger, safer and more versatile piece of exercise equipment.

Can you give me some step workouts to try?

Can you recommend some beginner, intermediate and advanced step workouts?

Yes!  Check out the list below for a couple of beginner, intermediate and advanced step workout options.

I have a library of aerobic step workouts you can try (they’re perfect if you’re a beginner or need some timesaver routines).

Just click here and scroll down the page until you see this image and click on the Aerobic Step Workouts offer:

My next recommendation is that you check out a membership to Beachbody on Demand so you can try out Shaun T’s Transform 20 workouts (he uses an aerobic step in every routine of the 6 week program).

The routines are completely awesome (but advanced).

You can sign up for a free trial to Beachbody on Demand and try out all the Transform 20 routines during that period using the link below:

💥 Sign up for a free trial of Beachbody on Demand today.

The rest of my recommendations for aerobic step routines are all Cathe Friedrich workouts.


Because Cathe Friedrich has been cranking out incredible step (and other) workouts forEVER.  She’s a total badass and continues to produce amazing routines. 

Also, all of Cathe Friedrich’s videos come with additional ‘premix’ workouts so you end up with more than one routine with every purchase. (Score!)

👉PRO TIP—Remember that you can always make any step workout harder (or easier) by removing (or adding) the number of risers under each side, doing less (or more) reps or adding (or decreasing) weights, where applicable.


Basic Step

Basic Step is a traditional step aerobics routine for cardio conditioning.

ICE Low Impact Sweat

Low Impact Sweat is a HiiT total body workout. If you’ve never done step before then do this routine with no risers the first time.


ICE Boot Camp Circuit

Ice Boot Camp Circuit uses 60-second intervals to create an intense total body cardio + sculpting workout.

*If you’re not sure whether you’re a beginner or intermediate exerciser then try this workout with only 1 riser and use very light (or no) weights the first few times you do it.

Athletic Step

Athletic Step is a step cardio workout.

The choreography in Athletic Step is more advanced (but these aren’t dance moves) than Basic Step but you’ll have it down by the 3rd time you do it.


Athletic Training

I LOVE this workout because it’s SO HARD.

Athletic Training is a total body routine—there’s an intense step section doing low-impact circuits followed by several sections of compound exercises with light dumbbells.

To the Max

To the Max is similar to Athletic Training.

There are several sections of exercises in this routine.  You’ll blast through advanced cardio intervals and when you think you can’t possibly do more—you will.

If you’re looking to burn a TON of calories then try this routine.  You’ll feel like a superstar when you’re done.

*Cathe uses 3 risers on each side in parts of this routine but you can do the exercises with any number of risers.

But if you’re looking for an aerobic step with 3 risers per side here you go…

Ready to spice up your next workout with a safe and effective exercise tool?

Great idea!!

🧡Buy an aerobic step today!

Do you have another question about aerobic step equipment??

Use the comment section or email me!

Thank you for reading!

You’re awesome!


Sharing is caring!