The best thing I ever did to step up my fitness game was taking a giant step away from stationary cardio machines. Don’t get me wrong, I love to run, and every treadmill has its day, but I cringe when I think about all the hours and years I wasted slogging away with mediocre results. These days, I love trying new pieces of equipment. If the gym is adult recess, then medicine balls and battle ropes are the toys that I play with. I’ve decided to create what I’m calling an “equipment-based workout,” EBQ if you will. Consider this episode II, because I shared an EBQ last year with a workout I designed using glider discs (The Workout You’ll want to Pack for your Holiday Travels.)
Equipment-based workouts are perfect for when the gym is super crowded, or maybe you’re in a dinky hotel fitness center and don’t have much variety to work with. I designed this workout around the classic step, one of my favorite tools to work with, because it’s so versatile. If you’re short on time, feel free to choose just a few of these exercises or perform this routine 1-3x. *I’ve included plenty of modifications, so make it your own. You can add dumbbells to many of these exercises to really give this workout a boost (if you have access.)
Toe Taps: Stand facing the step and quickly tap each toe on top, hopping from foot to foot. Stay light on the balls of your feet, brace your core to help lift your knees high, and pump your arms to drive the momentum.
Mountain Climbers: Come into an incline plank with hands under shoulders on the step. Bring one knee toward your chest, step back and repeat with the other leg. Begin to pick up the pace, quickly running your knees with fast feet.
Heel Dip: Stand with one foot firmly planted on the step and the other leg hanging over the edge. Shift your hips back, lowering into a single leg squat while reaching the outside heel toward the ground (it’s totally fine if the heel doesn’t tap the floor. Press up to stand and squeeze your glutes.
Hip Thrust: Come to the front of the step and lay back with the edge of the step just under your shoulder blades. Plant your feet about hip distance and tuck your tailbone so your hips are hovering above the ground. Keep your knees wide as you lift your hips. Squeeze your glutes, then lower back down to hover.
Tricep Dip: Grip the edge of the bench with your palms behind your hips and fingers facing out. Keep your shoulders engaged into their sockets as you bend your elbows directly behind you. Press up to straighten your arms and squeeze your triceps.
Wide Squat/Leg Abductor: Stand with one foot firmly planted on the step and the other leg hanging over the edge. Step the outside foot down to the floor, lowering the hips into a deep squat. Press into the step to stand all the way up, adding a leg lift with the outside leg.
Box Jumps: Stand with feet wide. Jump onto the step, landing in a squat with soft knees. Stand all the way up and squeeze your glutes. Step off one leg at a time, and repeat. Perform this exercise for 30 seconds, alternating which leg you step back with.
Deadbug: Lay with your back long on the step. Straighten your arms above your chest and bring your knees to hover over your hips, shins parallel to the floor. Engage your belly button toward your spine to protect your lower back and imagine lacing your ribcage together to keep your chest from popping out.
Moving simultaneously, extend the right leg out and lower the right arm alongside your ear. Use your obliques to squeeze everything back to the starting position. Repeat on the left side, performing 10-15 reps on each side.
Pushup Plank Walk: Come into a plank on the side of your step with one palm on the floor and the other palm on the step (you can be on your knees or toes.) Lower your chest to elbow height then push back up. Brace your core as you walk hands and feet down the length of the step to pushup on the other side with the other arm.
*You don’t have to stagger the arms. Feel free to do the pushups with both hands on the bench, or even take out the pushups completely and just walk your plank from side to side. Perform 10-15 reps total.
Back Lunge/Single Leg Deadlift: Stand on the step with your hands on your hips. Step back with one leg, lowering into a lunge. Stand up tall, then shift your weight forward, tilting your chest parallel to the floor. Squeeze your glutes to bring your back leg along for the ride.
Moving your body like a pendulum, lift your chest to step back into the lunge. *You can always take out the single leg deadlift and just lunge down and up. Perform 10-15 reps on each leg.
Barrier Jumps: Stand parallel to the step with a hand gripping each side. Bend your knees deeply to sink low into your hips. Imagine you’re trying to do a handstand as you press into your palms and kick your heels toward your glutes, jumping over the step.
Stay light on the toes, and land with soft knees. Perform this exercise for 30 seconds.
Hope you enjoy this workout!
–Erin Hackbarth, LulaFit Yoga, Pilates & Barre Instructor