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Step Thrills and Body Bar® Drills

So, your participants are hungry for muscle definition. Meet their needs by integrating cardio and strength in one great workout combining step training with weighted bar drills. This class is wonderful because you can easily personalize it to accommodate your students’ skill level and to vary the focus.

Choose Your Cardio-Strength Ratio

Select the ratio that fits your focus. For example, do a 1-1 cardio-strength ratio for an equal focus on both types of training. Or try a 7-2 cardio-strength ratio, with more focus on cardio.

Devise User-Friendly Combinations

Don’t overwhelm students with fancy footwork. Design step choreography that can be taught, learned and executed in 3-7 minutes. This way you will have time for several sets of cardio and strength work. Here are two examples of how to structure a class:

Class Example 1:
Warm-Up: 5-7 minutes
Cardio-Strength (5 sets of 7-2 ratio): 45 minutes
Core/Abs: 5 minutes
Stretching: 3-5 minutes
Total Time: approximately 60 minutes

Class Example 2:
Warm-Up: 5-7 minutes
Cardio-Strength (8 sets of 3-2 ratio): 40 minutes
Core/Abs: 5 minutes
Stretching: 3-5 minutes
Total Time: approximately 55 minutes

Burn More Calories With Total-Body Moves

During the strength segments with the weighted bar, focus separately on upper- and lower-body exercises and then integrate them into compound moves.

  • Begin with movements for large muscle groups (glutes/quads), and then integrate smaller muscle groups (biceps, deltoids) to complete a total-body exercise.
  • Perform exercises that involve balance and engage small stabilizers. Participants will get more intensity out of each exercise.
  • Stay within muscular-strength or muscular-endurance guidelines. To improve strength, complete 8-12 reps. To improve muscular endurance, do 12-25 reps.

Take Minimal Breaks Between Sets

Increase the intensity of the circuit training experience by keeping rest intervals to a minimum. When you finish a step segment, immediately begin the strength exercise. When that’s complete, start another step segment right away.

Adhere to Step Aerobic Guidelines

In accordance with Step Reebok guidelines, observe a maximum music speed of 126 beats per minute (bpm) with intermediate steppers, or 128 bpm with highly conditioned participants (124 bpm for beginners). Make sure step height is appropriate for each person’s height and skill level and for the choreography’s complexity. Ensure that students place the entire foot on the bench when stepping.

Coach the Class

Let the class know what to expect. For example, you might say, “Today we are doing a high-intensity step circuit class. We will use the weighted bar for strength and do cardio-based movements on the step. This 60-minute workout includes step cardio segments and strength segments. The step segments will be choreographed and a bit longer than the strength segment. The strength segments will involve total-body exercises and a little balance. This can be a challenge, so take a break if you need to, but remember that less rest makes the workout more challenging.”

Watch for Signs of Fatigue

How do you know if students are getting tired? Look for progressively poor posture and shortened range of motion. Fatigued participants begin to make smaller movements or use momentum to complete movements. If you see that people are fatigued, modify moves to make them less challenging.

Appel will present a session on this topic at the 2009 IDEA World Fitness Convention™, August 12-16, in Anaheim, California. To learn more about this fitness event, please visit the IDEA website.


Concerned about your place in the new fitness industry? We have 40 years of experience supporting pros just like you! Let’s create a new wellness paradigm together—IDEAfit+ is the extra edge you need. Once you team up with IDEA, be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits of membership.

Abbie Appel

"Abbie Appel is the owner of Abbiefit Consulting and the program director for Fitspace. As an award-winning fitness educator, Abbie develops and delivers programs for Power Systems®, Schwinn® Cycling, TRX® Training and many other organizations. She developed the SCW Pilates and SCW Barre certifications and has produced and starred in over 30 fitness videos. Abbie contributes to fitness publications such as Self, Shape, Prevention and IDEA Fitness Journal, and is certified by ACE, AFAA and NASM."

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