Step Aerobics: The Ultimate Guide. All you Need to Know [Must Read]

Developed in the 1980s, step aerobics remains one of the top methods for weight loss and calorie burn.

Not only does it top the list of the most effective workouts, but it is a fun and groovy way to tone the lower body and melt away fat. It is a great opportunity for both men and women of all ages and fitness levels to maximize their health and improve overall wellness.

A new study finds that when balancing time commitments against health benefits, aerobics training is optimal for reducing fat and body mass.

A basic one-hour step class is designed to increase your heart rate, strengthen your core and tone your arms and lower body. With some simple adjustments, intensity levels can be increased, providing a powerful boost to your workout.

What is Aerobic Exercise?

The word aerobic literally means “with oxygen” or “in the presence of oxygen.” Aerobic exercise is any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously for a long period of time and is rhythmic in nature.

Therefore, an aerobically fit individual can work longer, more vigorously and achieve a quicker recovery at the end of the aerobic session.

Health Benefits of Aerobics Exercise

Engaging in regular moderate to intense exercise has many health benefits, ranging from weight loss, strength building to cardio conditioning. Adding step classes to your routine can up the ante in terms of these health benefits.

#1. Weight loss

Step aerobics burns calories at a rate of up to 1000 calories burned per hour for a step workout, making it one of the most efficient exercise classes on the market. Burning an additional 3500 calories each week, or 500 per day, can help you lose approximately 4-5 lbs a month. And that is a huge gain – your secret to weight loss recipe.

#2. Increased heart rate

Because of the movements and height of the step, this type of workout helps increase the heart rate, which moves blood and oxygen into the muscles and organs of the body and strengthens the heart.

Do you know your estimated target heart rate?

#3. Improved muscle tone and strength

The up and down patterns of steps engage the muscles of the legs and the glutes, causing them to contract and release with each movement. This engagement not only makes the muscles stronger, but it causes them to tone up. The bonus is the more muscle tone you have, the more calories you burn.

#4. Lowers blood pressure

Regular cardiovascular exercise makes your heart strong, which in turn makes it pump blood more efficiently with less force, reducing the pressure on your arteries, reducing your blood pressure.

Research has shown that regular physical exercise reduces blood pressure and is broadly recommended by current American and European hypertension guidelines.

#5. Reduced risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease

There are several benefits of aerobics exercise. However, your cardiovascular health remains the number one beneficiary of regular aerobics or cardio exercises.

In fact, for people with, or at risk for, heart disease, physical activity especially aerobic exercise is recommended by the American Heart Association.

Regular intense exercise reduces the risk of stroke by nearly 30% while reducing the five risk factors of cardiovascular disease, including obesity, high blood pressure and poor blood panel results.

#6. Improved mental health

Step classes are fun and highly social, which has been shown to help with mood improvement.
It can also reduce anxiety and depression, which are often triggers to a sedentary lifestyle, which can increase health risk factors.

Aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have been proved by research to reduce anxiety and depression.

#7. Improved skills and functionality

Because the step requires coordination and agility, it can improve overall functionality. This can lead to more capability in doing things you love, a longer lifespan and improved feelings of overall wellness.

Step Aerobic Moves

Step aerobics requires a little coordination, so it is always best to practice the basic moves before registering for your first step-a-thon.

Basic step aerobics moves

1. Basic Up, Down – stepping up onto and down from the step in a pattern format facing the front of the step. If the left foot leads, it is a Basic Left. If the right foot leads, Basic Right.

  • Left foot up
  • Right foot up
  • Left foot down
  • Right foot down

2. Turn Step – stepping onto the step platform in the same pattern as the Basic Up,
Down, but adding a small direction change, creating a “U” pattern. The pattern can be created to form either a wide “U” or a narrow “U”.

  • Left foot up, turning body to the left at an angle
  • Right foot up, still at an angle
  • Left foot down, facing the left
  • Right foot down, facing the left
  • Reverse the pattern to flow in the other direction

3. L-Step – stepping onto the step in the same pattern as the Basic Up, Down, but doing so moving towards the edge of the step and then stepping off to the side of the step instead of back down in the front of the step, drawing an “L” shape.

  • Left foot up at the left edge of the step
  • Right foot up at the left edge of the step
  • Left foot down, off of the left side of the step
  • Right foot down, off of the left side of the step

e. Reverse the pattern to return to the front of the step… Repeat on the right side starting with the right foot.

4. T-Step – facing the end of the step instead of the front, this move is similar to the Basic Up, Down with the step down on either side of the step and then back up creating a “T” shape.

  • Left foot up while facing the end of the step
  • Right foot up while facing the end of the step
  • Left foot down, off of the side of the step
  • Right foot down, off of the other side of the step (straddle the step)
  • Reverse the pattern back up onto the step and then back to starting position.

Step Aerobics Moves PDF

Of course, step aerobics revolutionized the fitness industry when it was introduced in the late 1980s and it is still relevant today.

Apparently, you may be a beginner, an intermediate, or an advanced user, this step training guideline would be perfect for you. Here you are with a step aerobics moves pdf to for assistance. Especially fitness professionals who teach step aerobics classes.

Intermediate and Advanced Movements

Once the basic movements are mastered, adding hand movements into your routine or adjusting the step height can quickly change the intensity of the workout. For more advanced steppers, there are step patterns that can be used to enhance the experience even more.

1. Up and Over

From a basic L-Step, you would step across the step, moving to the other side instead of returning the front of the step. This movement can also be performed.

2. A-Step

Similar to the Basic Up, Down, but facing the end of the step-like a T-Step and drawing an upside “V” as you step up and down towards the other end of the step.

3. Knees

Single knee or repeater knee on the step is accomplished during the Basic Up, Down, however, instead of the foot coming up onto the step, the knee is lifted towards the chest and then returns to the ground.

4. Kicks

Single kicks or repeater kids on the step can be done in place of single or repeater knees.

5. Plyometrics

By jumping onto or off of the step instead of stepping up, you can increase the intensity and impact of the workout.

Step Aerobics for Beginners

Because using the step can require a basic level of coordination, there are many people who shy away from it. Finding a beginner’s class and remembering these basic beginner tips can help anyone stepping up for the first time.

1. Always maintain an upright position, keeping shoulders back and chest high to protect your back and help prevent tripping.

2. Keep your hands on your hips throughout the class, and through your first few workouts, focusing on mastering the foot movements.

3. Step lightly on the platform. Do not stomp or pound your foot into the step. Stepping as light as a feather ensures your core is engaged.

4. Do not use risers for your first few classes, no matter how tempting.

5. Maintain one foot on the floor at all times, also known as low-impact aerobics.

6. Step aerobics for seniors is similar to beginners but may require a few additional modifications such as removing the step platform altogether or providing a chair in front of the step, allowing for foot and hand movements without the risk of falling.

7. Note that modifications can be made to allow for adaptation. Taking the movements to a flat surface or keeping them at their most fundamental level are two very simple ways of ensuring beginner’s success for all levels.

Intermediate Step Aerobics

After the mastery of the basic step movements, you will quickly advance to an intermediate level where you will be pushed to the edge, but maintain the security of knowing the basic moves.

In fact, most step classes are geared towards the intermediate stepper but don’t fear. Intermediate step aerobics routines are similar to those of beginners and can be adjusted at any point during the workout.

1. Learn to coordinate arm movements with basic foot movements will increase the intensity and create more options.

2. You may begin to see moves like repeaters or going up and over the step. Don’t worry, you can always return to the basics.

3. Adding a riser to elevate your step can also take things up a notch. If it’s too much, you can always take it down again.

Advanced Step Aerobics

One of the greatest results of step is its ability to challenge even the most advanced of athletes in all areas of endurance. Advanced step aerobics provides maximum opportunities to get shredded.

1. Plyometric moves can be incorporated into basic routines, challenging power, speed
and endurance. This means jumping onto and off of the box, jumping around the box, hopping up during kicks and knee raises and other movements that take both feet off of the floor at a single point in time. Jumping improves power and advanced athletes strive for power.

2. A step workout with weights increases muscle endurance, tone and even maximum calories burned after the workout has ended, or the EPOC. This can be done with hand weights such as dumbbells, or by the addition of kettlebells or resistance bands.
Weights can be used while stepping or the bench can be used to perform strength training movements such as chest press or push-ups.

3. With the addition of several risers, you can increase the step height of the platform, creating a heart rate blasting experience that is truly not for the weak. Extra care should be given, as the higher the step, the greater the risk of tripping and falling.

Different Styles of Step Aerobics

There are many styles of step aerobics available, along with options for locations and mediums to participate. Step aerobics choreography can be simple or advanced and accomplished in a classic gym setting or in the comfort of your own home.

1. Step aerobics at home is an option for those who do not enjoy the gym environment, or who prefer their workouts in the comfort of their own space. Video, satellite and phone apps provide a wealth of opportunities that allow for home success. All you need is a step or something that can be used as a step.

2. Double-Step is when two-step platforms are used for each participant, creating a highly challenging workout for both the intermediate and advanced stepper. Coordination is a must, however, the movements can be done both high or low-impact.

3. Hip Hop Step Aerobics is sweeping the nation, targeting all levels from beginner to advanced, although advanced steppers will certainly find a respectable workout!
Choreographed to super upbeat music, this high-intensity, high-impact extreme workout will leave you feeling as if you stepped off of a stage performance. A fun and energetic way to groove off maximum calories.

Aerobic Stepper: The Good and Bad

All exercises come with pros and cons, and step aerobics is no different. Although step is a great workout, providing both efficient and effective results, it is not for everyone.

Step aerobic pros:

1. Fun, social and allows you to have fun moving to the music.

2. Calorie burn of 1000 calories per hour.

3. Muscle strength and endurance development, increasing functionality and metabolism.

4. Core conditioning, improving posture and abdominal strength.

5. Improved tone in the legs, arms and butt.

6. Many health benefits, including lowered blood pressure and lowered rates of depression.

7. Improved power, agility, speed, coordination, endurance, accuracy and other skills affiliated with functionality and athletic performance.

8. Excellent training modality for cyclists, runners, that cross-training

Step aerobic cons:

1. It requires a basic level of coordination.

2. The heart rate rises rapidly, so attention to heart rate is essential.

3. Those with knee, hip, ankle and back issues require monitoring and modifications as deemed necessary.

4. Increased risk for injury due to trip hazards.

5. Not appropriate for those in the late trimester of pregnancy due to weight shifts.

6. Not ideal for individuals with balance issues.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


300 calories every 30 minutes on average. If each move is performed at maximum height and intensity, an individual can burn up to a thousand calories during a one-hour class. Calorie burn is dependent upon step height, intensity, age, weight and gender.


Yes. Aerobic activity that increases the number of calories burned or increases the metabolism can assist in weight loss. Adding step aerobics 3 times a week to your weekly routine holds the potential of 1-2 pounds lost each week by itself.


The heart muscle; the quads, hamstrings, inner thigh and calves, all of which make up the legs; the glutes, including the Maximus, medius and minimus, all of which make up the entire butt; the core muscles, including the abdominal and the back muscles; the arms, shoulders and upper back.


No. Any movement performed with inappropriate form can result in injury, including repetitive high-impact movements. If you have ongoing joint issues or knee pain, it is always best to speak to your healthcare provider prior to engaging in any activity.


No more than 3 times per week, although twice a week is a safe bet. Doing step aerobics 4-5 times a week can increase your risk of repetitive motion injury and other problems.


Yes. Any exercise that uses oxygen to access energy is considered aerobic. That includes walking, jogging, swimming and step aerobics. Step aerobics will get your heart rate elevated much faster than water aerobics and also provide a more efficient calorie burn.

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