Double Step Conditioning is a total-body workout that uses two steps set up at different heights for a fresh approach to old moves and an opportunity to infuse new energy into conditioning classes. The workout includes moderate-to-hard cardio bursts to keep people moving and heart rates elevated without pushing into anaerobic zones. Participants will appreciate the seamless flow, sweat and variations.
Double Step Details
Goal/Emphasis: total-body conditioning
Total Time: 45 minutes
Equipment Needed: two step platforms, 10–16 risers, medicine balls (6–10 pounds), one Body Bar® (9–18 pounds) per person. Place one to two risers (each side) beneath the low step and four to six risers (each side) under the high step.
To determine high-step height, have participants stand behind the step and place one foot flat on the platform. Knee should not exceed 90 degrees when vertically over the foot. Set up steps end to end (narrow). If a participant is extremely tall, leave 3–5 inches between the steps.
Music: approximately 135 beats per minute for warm-up; 125–130 bpm for main workout
Additional Notes: Use anticipatory cuing to keep participants moving from one exercise to the next.
Warm-Up (5-8 minutes)
Your goals are to move all major joints through full range of motion, increase
energy and excitement, and dispel any fear participants may have about the high step. Tell them the high step allows for variety and is perfectly safe. Repeat the following sequence two or three times:
- Alternating front knee lifts: Stand tall and pull knee into chest. Press standing hip slightly forward, emphasizing hip extension (8 reps each).
- Alternating hamstring curls: Reach arms forward at chest level, and pull back with bent elbows, emphasizing scapular retraction while bringing heel to buttocks (8 reps each).
- Alternating wide knee lifts: With legs in slight sumo squat, reach same-side arm overhead and then down laterally toward knee (8 reps each).
- Alternating bent-knee hip circles: Bend knees, and circle hips while doing same movement with arms as if “stirring the pot” (8 reps each).
- Alternating straight-leg raises: Kick leg up to opposite hand (reaching for toes), making full shoulder circles (as if swimming overhead) (8 reps each).
- Transition: Wide-leg march (16–32 counts).
- Single-count squats: Squat while reaching arms forward (8–16 reps).
- Three-count down squats: Squat and hold, emphasizing full range of motion (8 reps).
- Standing cat-cow: From slight squat, hands on thighs, do spinal extension and flexion for 2 counts each (4–8 reps).
Work Phase (35 minutes)
Perform each exercise for 90 seconds. For unilateral or single-sided exercises, cue to switch sides at the 45-second mark. Each block—two strength exercises and one cardio exercise, plus transitions—takes approximately 5 minutes to complete.
Block 1: Medicine Ball (MB)
High/low step. Hold MB, straddle low step, squat (elbows touch knees) and sit on high step. Stand up and lift MB overhead.
Floor. From plank position, hands on MB, lift and abduct one leg; switch.
High/low. Do alternating toe touches with MB rotations: 45 seconds on low step for quickness and 45 seconds using high step for challenge.
Block 2: Body Bar (BB)
BB/low/high. Start with one foot on low step, one foot on floor facing high step. Hold BB across upper back and squat, touching toe on high step.
BB/high. While sitting on high step, do V-sit and press BB straight up over chest; shift right (R), then left (L).
Low. Do step/alternating knee lifts.
Block 3 (BB)
High. With BB held across upper back, do step-ups: R foot on step, L foot taps up then releases back to floor each time.
High/low. With hands on high step, jump legs side to side over low step.
Low. Do step-straddle knee lifts or straddle jumps.
Block 4 (MB)
Low. Hold MB at chest, curtsy squat off low step (isolate R, then L), then press MB overhead.
High. Straddle low step and perform triceps dip off high step. When pressing up, do “jumping jack” move with legs on low step, then return to straddle position and repeat.
Low. Step-kick Charleston-style (all R, then all L).
Block 5 (BB)
Low. Place R foot on low step, L foot on floor, with BB held under front leg, and do lunges. Stop when BB touches back of leg. Repeat on other side.
High. From plank position, R hand on high step, perform row with L arm, BB parallel to body. Repeat, L.
Low. Stand on top of low step, facing high step and do alternating floor taps (to progress, add arm movements).
Block 6 (MB)
Low. With R foot on ground and L foot on step, lunge while passing MB under leg.
High. With feet on high step and hands on floor, perform decline push-up while walking hands into pike position.
Low. Do basic step (walk or “run” up, step down).
Block 7 (BB Replacing Cardio With Core To Begin Cool-Down)
Low. Do side lunge to knee lift (R, then L).
High. Hinge forward while holding BB, and then do bent-over row. Hold BB wide and row up to chest, then release; emphasize scapular retraction.
High/low. Do plank while holding BB (across high step); legs on top of low step. Alternate taps off step.
Cool-Down (3-5 Minutes)
Hold each of the following stretches for 20–30 seconds:
- Hip flexor/quadriceps stretch: Place shoelaces of R foot on high step (behind you). Bend R knee and press hip forward until you feel stretch. Repeat, L.
- Hamstring stretch: Place R heel on high step (in front of you) and extend leg. Bend L knee and sit back as if squatting. Repeat, L.
- Spine stretch: Place R foot flat on high step (in front of you), and place L hand to outside of R thigh as you twist R. Repeat, L.
- Upper-body stretch sequence: Stand with arms open wide; pull arms back until stretch is felt in front of shoulders and chest. Round spine forward and bring arms together in front as if “hugging a tree.”