Best Exercise Step Platform of 2021
If you are looking for a versatile piece of home gym equipment, the Yes4All Multifunctional Aerobic Deck is an excellent choice. This bench is strong enough to be used for many strength-building movements and versatile enough to make up for its higher-than-average price tag. The lower legs lock into place at 8" and 14" but can be safely set up as a decline bench. The platform moves from a flat position to a 25, 50, or 75-degree incline, with each one offering safe and stable support. The exceptional amount of ways this bench can be positioned makes it an incredibly dynamic choice for home gym use. You can easily transition from one configuration to the next without taking time away from your workout. This bench even offers a 5.65-liter storage cache beneath the central platform, though when this storage space is full, the adjustable feet are inaccessible. The coin-grip surface texture of the Yes4All provides great traction for sweaty hands or wet shoes, and the feet offer excellent floor traction as well. This step weighs in at 32 pounds, which means it won't budge while you're doing your exercises. Yes4All rates this multifunctional aerobic deck for up to 300 pounds, and we believe this to be true. During testing, we had a 200-pound man use this as a bench for heavy lifting and a step for jumping, and it held up to the challenge without fail.
The drawbacks of the Yes4All are relatively sparse in the grand scheme of things. We found it to be quite cumbersome to move, though still doable. When lifted, the feet tend to buckle, which can add to the overall clunkiness of movement. This isn't a problem if you choose to leave the bench in one spot, but we would not recommend this step as one to purchase if you require to move it around often. The only other nitpicky detail we found with this bench is that it is only 14" tall at its highest. We love to add box jumps to our circuits, and 14" isn't high enough for a real hop-testing challenge. Ultimately, however, anyone who wants an all-in-one bench for lifts and circuits will be very happy with this award winner.
The HomGarden Adjustable Workout Aerobic Stepper is similar to a few other exercise step platforms in our collection. It is versatile enough for full-body circuit use and adjusts to three different settings. To adjust this style of step, simply flip the bench upside down, line up the legs and holes, and give a gentle stomp to lock into place. The textured surface offers an above-average grip for sweaty hands so that you can perform everything from push-ups to grueling mountain climbers with ease. At just under 9 pounds, this platform's light weight also makes it an excellent choice for use in a setting in which it will be moved frequently. Plus, the feet can be stored in the step's undercarriage, which aids in keeping your workout setup looking streamlined and neat.
The HomGarden's height maxes out at just 8" off the ground. Additionally, each foot's rubber nubs are not very well constructed and allow the step to slip out slightly from underfoot, causing our testers to feel less secure than other models. We tested other steps that were far less slip-resistant, but we offer a word of caution when using this bench on a freshly waxed group fitness floor. The feet are adequate at protecting your home hardwoods from damage, though, which is a solid plus. If you are looking for a strong, durable, and uber-weight bearing step to accompany your gym setup, we think you'll be pleased with this budget-friendly buy.
The Reebok Original Aerobic Step is stable enough to be used for many different compound and intense movements. This step is designed to be abused by the heaviest-footed workout enthusiasts with three different height settings and a secure base. The step can be set at 6, 8, or 10 inches in height and remains equally stable throughout the range. Once you get the hang of adjusting the feet, the Reebok step becomes an excellent choice for a home or public gym setting. Reebok claims that this step is rated for up to 242 pounds. Throughout our testing, we had a 200-pound man jump and step onto this bench while holding a 45-pound kettlebell. The base never bowed or showed any signs of aggressive impact. The plastic and rubber come together to create a stable and useful platform with good traction.
As much as we love the Reebok Original Aerobic Step, it is worth noting that the joints for storing the feet are very tight. Our main tester was physically unable to pull the feet off without assistance. However, once we figured out the pattern and loosened the joints up by connecting and disconnecting them a few times, the process became easier. Still, we find that adjusting this exercise step isn't as intuitive as other models — though that is our only point of criticism. If you're looking to add a bench that can be used for step-up activities as well as support for heavy lifts, we think you'll be quite satisfied with this option. The Reebok is stackable and easy to move (about 24 pounds), making it an excellent choice for group fitness and gym environments.
The Escape Fitness USA Riser Step Platform is a platform meant to be jumped on. Throughout our research, this step stands out amongst the rest as a real winner for plyometric exercises. Plyometrics can be described as the rapid contractions of muscles as a modality for building strength. Simply put, plyometrics is the act of jumping and rebounding to develop muscular strength and endurance. The Escape Fitness riser is octagonal, which allows for dynamic, 360-degree motion during a workout. In addition to a multitude of accessories for this step, this highly unique shape makes it very versatile. Each step is sold individually, so if you choose to buy them, you can securely stack them to your heart's content. The wide and balanced support base allows the Escape risers to safely stack to a height well beyond most of its competitors. If you opt to purchase the long, oval-rectangular platform, you open up your options to include a more traditionally shaped step or an incline bench. The upper and lower portions of this step are coated in a thermoplastic rubber that is super grippy. Additionally, the smooth texture of the surface allows for easy cleaning. It is quite apparent that these risers are well made.
Unfortunately, the Escape Fitness isn't always the most practical choice. To have more than a not-even-5" platform, you'll need to purchase extra risers separately. Many of the platforms in our roundup offer the option to purchase additional risers, but those options come with at least two risers included in your initial purchase. To gain some notable height with the Escape Fitness risers can get to be pretty pricey. Overall, we think this particular platform and its corresponding accouterments would best be utilized in a functional fitness-type setting. The base is not quite wide enough for a true step aerobics workout, and it isn't a budget option. But if you are looking to outfit your home gym with some state-of-the-art equipment, you'll likely be pleased with what you get for the money with this setup.
If you have ever attended a step aerobics class or participated in group fitness at your local gym, you are likely to have used the The Step Original Aerobic Platform. This platform is ubiquitous in the world of fitness, and while we don't think it is the best on the market, there are many things we do love about it. Not only is it affordable, it offers a lot of versatility with its stack height. You can choose to purchase it with two or four risers (we tested it with two) and then can buy additional risers as you wish. There is also a health club size version that offers larger platform dimensions — we tested the circuit size. Unlike many platforms in our roundup, this one doesn't max out after being built up to a mediocre 10" — you can stack away to your heart's content. We do not recommend stacking it too high, but with the easy-to-move-risers, you'll be able to work on really improving those hops. The risers can be neatly stacked out of the way in your home gym if you need to create more space, and the lightweight design makes it very easy to move.
The Step Original is known for being exceptionally slippery on wooden gym floors and Berber carpet. This slip risk increases by quite a lot when the step is used without risers. Our head tester is adamant that she will not let anyone use a step in group classes without at least one riser on each side beneath the platform. On top of that, the loose-fitting stack structure of the risers creates an added amount of liability if the user doesn't double-check how they are stacked. However, if they are properly aligned, The Step is truly a wonderful addition to any gym setup. We recommend this platform to anyone looking to try out an exercise step platform without a huge financial commitment. Because of that, this is also a great choice for bulk-purchasing for a public gym setting — probably why so many gyms use this recognizable classic!
For something a little different, we recommend The Step High Step Aerobic Platform. This 16" square exercise step platform is versatile enough to justify its slightly higher price tag. It comes with four risers that can stack up to create a 12" platform, allowing each workout to be fully customizable. The risers come together with the "loose-locking" mechanics of older-style steps. The square shape allows the grooves to sit together more firmly than rectangular-shaped versions, and this style is easy to adjust on the fly and lightweight. The risers are very sturdy, and each comes with four non-skid feet to help the platform stay put and protect floors. The rough upper surface is easy to clean and texturized enough for use during super-steamy workouts, and the platform is constructed of recyclable and highly durable high-density polyethylene.
While we could certainly get our sweat on with the The Step High Step, its small platform is less versatile than we prefer. The platform is not quite large enough to support a wide stance or big feet. You have to get creative if you want to use a platform of this size for a full-body style circuit. However, the ability to go from 4" to 12" so effortlessly is a bonus. The High Step won't cross over into a bench like many others in our roundup, but the compact size makes this a good choice for space-conscious exercise enthusiasts.
The super durable Yes4All Adjustable High Step Aerobic Platform offers a long-lasting square step for home or public gym use. As with others of this shape and size, you may need to get creative if this is the only platform available to you. Still, we love how it goes from 4" to 12" with very minimal effort. The loose-locking risers come together to weigh about 13 pounds and are claimed to support up to 300 pounds. This platform's technology is very basic, but the plastic definitely holds up to daily use. Each riser has four non-skid feet beneath it, which helps protect the floor surface beneath it while in use.
Our biggest criticism of the Yes4All Adjustable High Step is that the platform surface texture doesn't prevent slipping very well. Sweaty hands and wet shoes slide off of this platform easier than we prefer. Additionally, if the surface beneath the step is mildly uneven, the risers don't lock together safely. These components are less than ideal and raise some safety concerns, especially for use in an unpredictable home gym setting. For the price, we feel that there are better options. Ultimately though, if you're after an exercise step platform that will last a long time, the Yes4All option will suffice. We think this particular step will be best employed in a controlled gym setting with a very even, non-slip floor. And don't forget to bring a towel to lay over the top, so your hands don't slip mid-push up!
The Tone Fitness Aerobic Step Platform is a back-to-basics budget-buy with a lightweight design (just 6 pounds) that can be adjusted to 4" or 6". The feet clip in with a basic locking mechanism. To adjust, simply flip the step over, line up the grooves, and give it a quick "thwack" to add some height. This step's textured surface is non-slip enough to accommodate sweaty hands but gentle enough to not dig into palms during long periods. It has two pads on each foot to protect the floor beneath it and help it stay in place. The Tone Fitness platform does not come with a weight rating, but it held up well during our 200-pound human jumping test.
Because of its inability to grow to be over 6" in height, the Tone Fitness isn't exactly our first choice. The plastic seems to be a bit flimsier than others in our review, which gives us pause regarding weight-bearing capabilities. This short-stack is excellent for beginners looking to dip their toes into the waters of step aerobics and circuit training, but we believe that most people will outgrow it fairly quickly. Still, if you're unsure about the depth of your commitment to exercising with a step, this wallet-friendly platform will surely suit your needs.
The JAXPETY Fitness Aerobic Step is very similar to others in our roundup. It can be set at either 4" or 6" in height and weighs in at less than 6 pounds. As with others of this style, to easily adjust the height structure, you should flip this step upside down and gently stomp the feet into place. This step is exceptionally easy to tote from room to room in your house or a gym. Additionally, it is rated for up to 440 pounds and offers a bit more stability than other basic steps we tested. The hard plastic is thinner than we expected but overall held up well through our durability tests. The upper surface texture is gentle and grippy enough to be safe.
Our main problem with the JAXPETY is its lack of floor grip. During our photographing process, a tester stepped onto this platform and was shocked to feel the whole thing slip out from under her super-grippy rainboots. This incident raised many red flags regarding the safety of this platform. In addition to this, the short height is not particularly versatile. As with the Tone Fitness, this option is a good choice for budget-conscious beginners looking to explore workouts with a platform. Due to our near slip-and-fall, however, we would recommend being cautious and sticking to lower impact workouts.
The BalanceFrom Adjustable Workout Aerobic Stepper is a tiny adjustable step that works best for things outside the exercise realm. The footpads are very minimal, and the surface texture is only mildly grippy. BalanceFrom does not offer a weight rating, but the step held up just fine through our testings circuits, and it's easy to adjust.
Unfortunately, our words of praise for this step are few and far between. The BalanceFrom found its place beneath a testers' bathroom sink, where she found it best suited for helping her visiting niece and nephew reach the faucet to wash their hands. This narrow platform barely accommodates a standard-sized female running shoe, so we don't find it very appropriate for fitness use. Maxing out at just 6" high means it's just not very versatile. Moreover, the rigid plastic is relatively cheaply constructed. We watched the belly of this step bow under pressure during our jumping tests. Ultimately, we'll pass on purchasing this step and think you should too, unless you need a utility step stool for the bathroom or pantry.
Why You Should Trust Us
Ally Arcuri once dreamt of becoming a step aerobics instructor in Thailand and thus lept at the opportunity to test and review exercise step platforms. She still hasn't been to Thailand, but her group fitness teaching goals were quickly accomplished. Ally earned her B.S. in Kinesiology from Cal State Fullerton and has been teaching fitness classes since 2010. She currently works as a personal trainer and will resume group fitness instruction once the dark cloud of COVID-19 passes us by.
Our reviewers took this collection of exercise step platforms through a rigorous battery of tests to determine which could best serve you in your home or small gym setting. Ally kept a careful eye out for anything that looked biomechanically unsafe while allowing her significantly heavier family members to jump, slip, and slide across the surfaces of each platform. Rest assured, our testing process wasn't all fun and games — Ally and the crew used each step for circuit training workouts and simple step aerobic sequences. We worked hard to simulate the experiences one might encounter while sweating it out with an exercise step platform.
Analysis and Test Results
In order to offer accurate comparisons and assessments between this lineup of exercise step platforms, we evaluated and scored them across six different metrics: versatility, slip-resistance, floor grip, adjustability, weight capacity, and durability. Each of these are outlined below in greater detail, as are standout performers in each category.
When analyzing exercise steps through the lens of home workout equipment, we took special care to assess each one's versatility. If you're anything like us, you're potentially a bit short on space and don't want to clutter up your home gym set up with various objects that only serve one purpose each. Even if you are looking to outfit a group fitness room, versatility is key! To test this, we performed similar circuit-style workouts with each platform and took notes as we did so. After our circuit training test, we moved through a variety of movements with each platform. We tested box jumps, Bulgarian lunges, bench presses, mountain climbers, incline push-ups, and predictably, step aerobics. To round out scores for this category, we also considered the shape and size, stability, amount of height offered, and the ease with which each platform can be adjusted. In some ways, versatility encompasses bits of every other metric.
Unsurprisingly, the king of versatility is the top-scoring Yes4All Multifunctional Aerobic Deck. While this platform can be adjusted to only two different heights (8" and 14"), the fact that it can be set higher than a foot off the ground is excellent. We also found a lot to love in the four different panel adjustments. This step can be used as a step for aerobics, a bench for box jumps, Bulgarian squats, and beyond. Additionally, the panel can be swiftly moved from 0- to 75-degrees, which will fulfill your needs during the speediest workouts. We also really liked the Reebok Original Aerobic Step with its three heights and a big enough size to accommodate supine positions.
Slip-resistance is an important metric because it directly influences how safe a step is for fast-paced use. For our purposes, slip-resistance means how grippy the platform's surface is for potentially sweaty hands or slightly wet shoes. We took note of this as we employed each step for a single, high-intensity workout before the real fun began, where we saturated our hands and then tried to perform a rapid sequence of mountain climbers, push-ups, and box jump burpees. We soaked the platform of the step and then repeated this sequence. After that, we tried to force our shoes to skid across each platform's surface. This may have been risky, but all of our testers emerged uninjured with huge smiles plastered across their faces. Some surfaces allowed our running shoes to slide; others caused us to stop short due to their exceptional gripping properties.
We were pleasantly surprised by how many steps offered great slip-resistance. Our highest performers were the Yes4All Multifunctional Aerobic Deck and Escape Fitness USA Riser Step Platform, though they both have highly different surface textures. The Yes4All Deck offers a bubbly coin-grip surface made of rubber that makes it next to impossible to slide off. The thermoplastic rubber surface of the Escape Fitness Platform feels more like a dense yoga. It truly feels as though this surface is made for super sweaty, high intensity, cardio and plyometric workouts — the material is slightly shock-absorbent too!
Floor grip is just as important as slip-resistance due to its correlation with safety concerns. This is why we split these two up into separate metrics. We tested floor grip by toting our steps around to different surfaces. Thankfully, we had easy access to hardwood, laminate flooring, carpet, gravel, and an outside deck surface. We tested this in a similar fashion to our other metrics. We initially performed a circuit-style workout with each step and took notes about whether it stayed in place on standard laminate flooring. Then we moved each step to a different surface and forcibly tried to slide it and jumped on each platform like it was a skateboard and tried to slide.
Our floor grip test proved to be mildly dangerous, so we do not recommend that you try it at home. We walked away with some incredibly valuable knowledge and, miraculously, no bruises. We found that floor grip and safety directly relate to the weight of each platform. The Yes4All Multifunctional Aerobic Deck took first place in yet another category. No matter how hard we landed, this exercise step stayed put during high-intensity movements. The footpads help protect flooring, and the storage space, when loaded with weights, adds to the structure's overall stability. The Reebok Original Aerobic Step came in as a close second. The gripped feet stay stable even on slippery hardwoods. Though this step is significantly lighter than others, we didn't have very much luck when we tried to kick-slide it across the floor. Both of these options are highly safe and stable choices, no matter what surface is available to you.
Adjustability is a major component of what makes a high-functioning exercise step. This type of fitness equipment tends to be cumbersome and clunky, so we appreciate finding streamlined options. It is one thing to spend time adjusting a step for use amid a slow-moving lifting routine. It is a whole other thing to be in the depths of a high-intensity circuit and need to lower or raise your platform. To test adjustability, we simply adjusted each step through its ranges of motion over and over again. We did it with sweaty hands, with dry hands, with pounding heart rates, and while holding onto jump ropes. In addition to the ease of adjustability, we doled out a few points here and there for each step's comprehensive range of adjustments. For example, steps that only had two relatively low settings scored lower than steps that offered more options.
The The Step High Step Aerobic Platform, Yes4All Multifunctional Aerobic Deck, and Yes4All Adjustable High Step Aerobic Platform were our highest scorers. We chose the Yes4All High Step and The Step High Step due to the ease in which they transition from 4" to 12" in height. These steps adjust by simply adding or removing risers and then putting the main platform back atop the stack. Both options adjust without any locking mechanism; they simply have grooves that each piece settles into. It sounds a bit unstable, but these truly ended up being the cream of the crop, as far as adjustability goes. The Yes4All Multifunctional Deck doesn't adjust quite as easily, but the range of shapes and sizes of this bench is quite remarkable. The platform itself can be adjusted from 8" to 14" inches, though the transition isn't seamless if you opt to utilize the storage area; the platform needs to be flipped over completely to be adjusted. However, the four different ramp configurations can be maneuvered with very minimal effort, even mid-workout.
Weight capacity is yet another metric that directly relates to safety. We ranked each exercise step platform's weight capacity by first taking note of the manufacturer's claimed weight rating. Following this, we allowed our 200+ pound family members to hold as much weight as they desired while jumping atop each step. We sank to our knees and watched the bowing of each step with a careful eye.
Thankfully, none of the steps snapped beneath our aggressively imposed demands, though some did bow in the center. The Reebok Original Aerobic Step is rated for up to 550 pounds, the highest in our lineup. We didn't push it up to that point, but it illustrated incredibly strong construction during our testing involving folks over 200 pounds using weights.
While we can't take years to test these products, we lay out our testing plans to be as rigorous as possible to simulate what a product may go through during regular usage. To test durability on these exercise platforms, we first noted how each step arrived out of the box and snapped a photo. Then, after many rounds of testing, we went back and observed the feet, structural elements, and the platform base of each step compared to that initial photo.
Not to be hyperbolic, but The Step might be lacing their equipment with kevlar. This platform is tried and true, and no matter how much weight we threw at it, both options by this brand help up. We are pleased to report that we tested many highly durable steps but The Step Original Aerobic Platform and The Step High Step Aerobic Platform were our major standouts in this metric.
Safe and effective home exercise equipment can be the gift that keeps on giving, and working out at home doesn't mean you need to compromise on quality or options. We did the heavy lifting, so to speak, going through various popular exercise step platforms so you can make a quick purchasing decision and concentrate on the heavy lifting you want to be doing. Ultimately, all the steps we tested can be utilized for a variety of different exercise uses, but we hope we've offered insightful guidance to help you hone in on the right piece of equipment for your space, budget, and individual workout needs.
— Ally Arcuri
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