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10-Minute Tuneups: Step it up!

Find 10 minutes for fitness with this step workout routine

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A fast step workout

For this workout, you can use either an aerobics step or simply a set of stairs in your house. Step work is important because you exercise lots of leg muscles-burning tons of calories along the way and adding muscle tone and definition to your thighs and glutes. As well, these moves are designed to really get your heart rate going.

To maximize this workout, do as many of each of these exercises as you can, as fast as you can. You can modify the workout to your own fitness level by going with the less-demanding Easier Options-which are lower impact-until you have built up your aerobic stamina (but try to do at least one 180-Degree Squat Thrust!). If you are doing the Easier Option moves, build intensity by doing more repetitions of them each time until you can do the tougher move for the complete time allotted.

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1. Warm-up: 1 minute

While pumping your arms, step up and down on the aerobics step, or walk briskly up and down a set of stairs.

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step workout

2. Up-and-over knee raises: 1 minute

Works: Cardio, calves, hamstrings, glutes and abdominals

Stand beside an aerobics step with your feet together. (A) Lift your left leg high and use it to (B) quickly hop up onto, then over the step. (C) Land with your left foot on the opposite side, and lift your right knee in the air as high as you can. Reverse sequence back to starting position. Keep your chest lifted and body tall as you go over the step with momentum for a total of one minute. (If using stairs, stand facing bottom stair and step up onto the stair with your left foot, immediately lifting right knee up in the air. Do 30 seconds on left foot, then 30 seconds on right foot.)

Easier option: Walk, rather than hop, up and over the step.

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3. Quick steps: 2 minutes

Works: Cardio, legs, glutes and abdominals

(A) Leading with the right leg, (B) run up and down off the aerobics step (or bottom step of your stairs) as quickly as you can for a total of one minute. Keep your upper body upright and engage your abdominals. Repeat sequence for another minute, starting with left leg. To add intensity, lift your armsoverhead or pump them vigorously at your sides.

Easier option: Step (rather than run) up and down off the step.

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4. Step hops: 2 minutes

Works: Cardio, calves, hamstrings, glutes and abdominals

Stand tall in front of the aerobics step (or the bottom stair), (A) bend at the knees and with power (B) hop both feet onto the step, then hop with power back down to the floor. Make sure to stay light on your feet on both the upward and downward movements, and keep your shoulders back and your chest lifted throughout. Repeat for a total of two minutes.

Easier option: Hop up with both feet, then step back to the floor.

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5. Step arabesques: 2 minutes

Works: Cardio, legs, glutes, abdominals, arms and shoulders

Stand in front of the aerobics step (or the bottom stair). (A) Step up with your left foot, then (B) lift your right leg straight behind you and squeeze your right glute. At the same time, lift arms out to your sides at shoulder height. Stay strong in your core, and maintain an erect posture. Repeat for 30 seconds. Switch legs, leading with right foot for 30 seconds. Repeat sequence for another minute.

Easier option: Switch legs every 15 seconds instead of every 30.

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step workout

6. 180-degree squat thrusts: 1 minute

Works: Cardio, legs, glutes and abdominals

(A) Step onto the aerobics step (or the bottom stair) with your left foot, then, with right foot still on the floor, step it out wide so feet are more than shoulder-width apart. Both feet should be pointed forward and parallel. Squat down so thighs are parallel with the floor, then immediately (B) leap up, rotate body 180 degrees and (C) land so your right foot is now on step and left foot is on floor; step that foot out wide, too. Repeat for a total of one minute.

Easier option: Step (rather than leap) through this sequence.

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cool down

7. Cool-down: 1 minute

For 30 seconds, walk slowly up and over the aerobics step (or up and down a set of stairs). For the remaining 30 seconds, gently stretch the major muscle groups you’ve just worked: calves, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, legs, arms and shoulders.

Watch the 10-minute tuneups step workout video
10-minute tuneups: Power workout video
The ultimate 10-minute workout