Aesthetics & Athletics: Weighted Step-Ups | Erin Stern

Posted on February 29, 2016 at 12:00 AM

Today we’re focusing on an exercise that helps improve strength and power in the posterior chain, and can also help build the quads. You can perform the weighted step-up essentially anywhere and modify it according to your skill level and goals. In my collegiate track days, we performed step-ups at least once a week. The rep range was usually on the lower side (4-6 per leg) while focusing on heavy, explosive lifts. Once I started training for figure, I increased the reps to around 8 per leg and focused on loading the quad with each step up.

Since this exercise is performed one leg at a time, it’s excellent for evening out any asymmetries in your physique. It also helps improve overall balance. As I mentioned, the step height can be adjusted according to skill level and goals.  Using a higher step will recruit more glute muscles. Beginners should try the exercise slowly, just using body weight. Compared to other bilateral exercises, less weight is needed, making step-ups a good option for training around injuries while still making progress. The motion encourages the knee to stay behind the toe, which can help minimize stress on the knees.

To get started, choose a sturdy bench, step or chair. If you’re using weights, grab dumbbells or unrack a bar. Starting with your non-dominant leg, step up onto the bench. With your free leg, drive your knee to parallel. Step down gently and repeat with the other leg. If you’re holding dumbbells, try not to swing them. Derive the power from your legs rather than using momentum.

As a general rule, any exercise that requires focus and balance is better when done towards the beginning of the workout. I like to perform these as part of an extended warm up for leg day. You can also do more reps and take less recovery between sets and get your heart rate up!

I’ve found in my training that I’m able to do more reps with PEAK ATP. This equates to higher training volume over time, which means better results!

Thank you for reading – check out the video for the exercise demonstration! Train hard, y’all!!

-Erin Stern

Thank you very much ! Next time in the gym I'll surely try these!
Oksana! | 1/30/24 at 1:25 AM
Hi Erin , thank you for showing me how to do step ups. :)
Elizabeth Lara | 1/30/24 at 1:25 AM
Gracias, son buenas ideas. I liked it.
juanita | 1/30/24 at 1:25 AM
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