How To Do the Step-Up Train for Stronger Glutes

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When it involves practical energy coaching, a number of the finest workout routines are those that carry over straight into your real-life actions. (Assume: squats, which enable you rise up from sitting on the bathroom, and push-ups, which enable you press your self up and off the bed.)

Step-ups are one other good instance. Each time you stroll up a flight of stairs, hike up a hill, step up into an SUV, and even rise up from kneeling, you’re doing a model of a step-up.

Step-ups are such a superb indicator of bodily health that researchers use step-ups to gauge leg muscle energy and leg operate, particularly in older adults, like on this 2011 examine in BMC Musculoskeletal Issues.

To coach your physique to raised deal with this motion, all that you must do is incorporate step-ups as a energy train in your health routine.

“We do a ton of step-ups at my studio for all completely different causes,” says Denise Chakoian, CPT, licensed private coach and founding father of Core Studios in Windfall, Rhode Island. The transfer advantages everybody from elite athletes to these trying to keep cellular and unbiased late in life.

That stated, step-ups might be intimidating when you attempt to go too excessive too quick, otherwise you’re working in your steadiness. Right here’s the right way to do step-ups accurately, the advantages they provide (trace: your glutes are going to like them), and the right way to degree up as you get stronger— as a result of there are some step-up variations that actually burn.

Learn how to do a step-up the best approach

Step-ups are a extremely numerous transfer, Chakoian says, with close to infinite methods to carry out them. This straightforward, intermediate model might be thought-about the core model of the step-up—however we’ve outlined extra variations under.

Personal trainer demonstrating step-up exercise
Photograph: Denise Chakoian, CPT

  1. Stand going through a sturdy plyo field, bench, or step that’s at about knee top.
  2. Carry your proper foot and place it on high of the field straight in entrance of your proper hip, ensuring it’s a couple of inches away from the sting and your toes are pointing straight ahead.
  3. Retaining your torso upright, press your weight into your proper foot and push by means of your quads and glutes to straighten your proper leg and stand on it on high of the field.
  4. On the identical time, drive your left knee as much as hip top, so your left thigh is parallel to the bottom.
  5. Reverse the transfer, reducing your left foot to the ground with management. Step your proper foot right down to the ground subsequent to your left.
  6. Do 12 to fifteen reps, then repeat on the opposite aspect.

The best step-up top will likely be extremely variable relying on what gear you will have accessible, your personal top, mobility, and health degree.

Chakoian says she usually units up shoppers with a platform that permits their knee to be bent at 90 levels and straight in step with the ankle within the beginning place. Nonetheless, novices might discover it finest to start out decrease, and superior exercisers might need to problem their mobility and energy by doing step-ups even increased.

Muscle mass labored by step-ups

Step-ups are a functional-strength leg-day celebrity. “Step-ups primarily work your glutes and quads,” explains bodily therapist and energy coach Schuyler Archambault, DPT, CSCS. “Your glutes work to increase your hip, and your quads work to increase your knee.”

The secondary muscle tissue step-ups work are your hamstrings (which assist to increase your hips), hip abductors and adductors (which preserve knee stability), and your calves (which assist with ankle stability), Archambault says. Step-ups additionally name in your decrease abs and pelvic flooring with the intention to stabilize your pelvis, Chakoian provides.

The step top you’re working with additionally modifications how the transfer prompts your muscle tissue. “With the next step top, you have to to lean your physique ahead extra. This can trigger a rise in hamstring activation to assist the glutes lengthen the hip,” Archambault explains.

The advantages of step-ups

Step-ups include a number of advantages that stretch to different sports activities actions—like operating or enjoying pickleball—in addition to remaining an environment friendly mover in day-to-day life.

1. Stronger glutes

Step-ups could also be particularly nice for rising your glutes. A 2020 analysis assessment revealed within the Journal of Sports activities Science & Drugs2 discovered that step-ups have been the most effective lower-body transfer for focusing on the gluteus maximus (the most important butt muscle) in comparison with different widespread lower-body workout routines together with hip thrusts, squats, deadlifts, and lunges.

Not solely did basic step-ups present the very best gluteus maximus activation, however three different step-up variations measured got here in second, third, and fourth, above each different sort of transfer.

2. Higher stability and coordination

Among the most spectacular advantages of step-ups come from the truth that they’re unilateral workout routines: They work one aspect of your physique at a time. Consequently, they’re nice for enhancing steadiness, stability, and coordination, Archambault says.

Particularly, step-ups drill pelvis and core stabilization because of their single-sided nature, she says. This stability is necessary as a result of it helps maintain your hips from dropping to at least one aspect when operating or strolling, for instance.

Higher steadiness may enable you keep away from falls or accidents. “I work a number of single-leg strikes, just about with each shopper. It would not matter how nicely they’re,” Chakoian says. “The profit is you learn to actually interact the core, and when you ought to occur to fall, you’ll be stronger than when you didn’t do any single-leg coaching.”

3. Higher sports activities efficiency

Improved stability, coordination, and single-leg energy are key for individuals who do sports activities of any variety, whether or not tennis or rollerblading.

Particularly, step-ups assist with any actions that ask you to maneuver ahead, again, and laterally (aspect to aspect), Chakoian says. Step-ups additionally assist practice your fast-twitch muscle tissue for power-based actions like sprinting, she says.

4. Addresses muscle imbalances

Sometimes, when you’re doing bilateral (or two-legged) coaching on a regular basis—strikes like squats, deadlifts, or hip thrusts the place your two legs are contributing equally—you’re going to create a muscle imbalance since you’re possible favoring your dominant aspect, Chakoian says.

“We simply do not understand, however all of us do it.” The 2 sides of your physique will possible by no means be completely equal, however when you work in your single-leg energy, you may be sure to’re adequately constructing muscle on either side.

5. Improved cardio

Step-ups are additionally an cardio exercise when carried out at increased quantity (i.e., extra reps) and are nice for getting your coronary heart price up, Archambault says.

This could come in useful for conditioning exercises, HIIT, or if you’re making an attempt to knock out energy and cardio in a single go.

Each time you stroll up a flight of stairs, hike up a hill, step up into an SUV, and even rise up from kneeling, you’re doing a model of a step-up.

Step-up variations so as to add to your routine

There are such a lot of methods to do step-ups, and the excellent news is that all of them include the above cardio, energy, and stability advantages. Strive these step-up variations from Chakoian and Archambault, listed so as of accelerating problem.

1. Up-up-down-down step-up

If in case you have a decrease step, are a newbie, or need to achieve extra cardio from step-ups, do this model from Chakoian. She loves doing this transfer as a dynamic warm-up for extra superior athletes who might sort out weighted step-ups later in a exercise.

  1. Stand going through a sturdy field, bench, or step that’s at about knee top or decrease.
  2. Carry your proper foot and place it on high of the field straight in entrance of your proper hip, ensuring it’s a couple of inches away from the sting and your toes are pointing straight ahead.
  3. Retaining your torso upright, press your weight into your proper foot and push by means of your quads and glutes to straighten your proper leg and stand on it on high of the field.
  4. Step your left foot onto the field subsequent to your proper.
  5. Step your left foot right down to the ground, then step your proper foot right down to the ground.
  6. Repeat, beginning with the left foot. Alternate the beginning foot for every rep. Repeat for 1 minute.

2. Weighted step-up

If you wish to actually work on energy with this transfer, maintain onto a dumbbell in every hand and carry out step-ups slowly, with an emphasis on difficult your leg energy somewhat than getting breathless.

“Take into consideration protecting your higher physique tall along with your shoulders again, particularly in case you are holding weight,” Archambault says.

  1. Stand going through a sturdy field, bench, or step that’s at about knee top, holding a light- to medium-weight dumbbell in every hand by your sides.
  2. Carry your proper foot and place it on high of the field straight in entrance of your proper hip, ensuring it’s a couple of inches away from the sting and your toes are pointing straight ahead.
  3. Retaining your torso upright, press your weight into your proper foot and push by means of your quads and glutes to straighten your proper leg and stand on it on high of the field.
  4. Step your left foot as much as faucet the field.
  5. Step your left foot right down to the ground. Preserve your proper foot on the field.
  6. Do 10 to 12 reps, then repeat on the opposite aspect.

3. Lateral step-up

Lateral step-ups are nice for rising the quantity of lateral hip activation (such because the gluteus medius and minimus), Archambault says.

  1. Stand to the left of a sturdy field, bench, or step that’s at about knee top, along with your toes parallel to the aspect of the field.
  2. Carry your proper foot and place it subsequent to you on high of the field, ensuring your foot is a couple of inches away from the sting and parallel to the aspect of the field. Your knee needs to be over your ankle.
  3. Retaining your torso upright, press your weight into your proper foot and push by means of your quads and glutes to straighten your proper leg and stand on it on high of the field.
  4. Drive the left knee as much as hip top.
  5. Reverse the transfer, reducing your left foot to the ground with management. Step your proper foot right down to the ground subsequent to your left.
  6. Do 10 to 12 reps on the best aspect earlier than delivering the wrong way to repeat on the left.

4. Step-down

Eccentric coaching (energy coaching that focuses on the downward portion of a motion) generally is a actually nice method to problem your self with simply your physique weight or really feel a distinct impact from a transfer you’re already acquainted with.

“Step-downs are nice for engaged on knee and hip management,” Archambault says. For superior athletes, Chakoian likes to decrease on a three-count after which add a fast, one-count knee drive to press again as much as the beginning place.

  1. Stand going through a sturdy field, bench, or step that’s about knee top.
  2. Carry your proper foot and place it on high of the field straight in entrance of your proper hip, ensuring it’s a couple of inches away from the sting and your toes are pointing ahead.
  3. Straighten your proper leg to face on high of the field. Enable your left foot to hold off the again of the field. That is your beginning place.
  4. Take three counts to decrease your left foot to the ground, slowly bending your proper knee and protecting your torso as upright as potential and making an attempt to not let your knee transfer back and forth.
  5. As soon as your left foot is on the bottom, press again as much as stand on the best leg to return to the beginning place.
  6. Do 10 to 12 reps, then repeat on the opposite aspect.

Frequent step-up errors and the right way to repair them

Step-ups are humbling. Don’t be afraid to drop the weights or decide a shorter step to start out, so you may get your type on level. “I see lots of people struggling to rise up on one leg as a result of it’s difficult, even for somebody that works out quite a bit,” Chakoian says.

A giant mistake she sees is folks leaning too far ahead, sliding their knee ahead over their foot on the working leg. This places a number of stress on the knee, and likewise takes away from the work the glute needs to be doing, she says. Equally, you shouldn’t really feel the necessity to hunch ahead to rise up—that might be an indication that the step is simply too excessive.

If you happen to’re doing a knee drive on the high of the transfer, don’t thrust your hips ahead or tuck your pelvis beneath, she provides. Preserve your core engaged however your backbone and pelvis impartial.

Archambault additionally notes you need to “work on ensuring your knee is transferring straight ahead and never caving in as you step up and down. Ensure that to have your weight distributed evenly by means of the foot; it helps to consider pushing by means of your heel on the best way up so you aren’t in your toes,” she says.

Security suggestions for step-ups

It’s a good suggestion to do begin by doing step-ups onto a shorter floor after which progressing to increased platforms from there, Archambault says. She additionally recommends beginning with out weight and steadily increase if you really feel assured within the motion.

When Chakoian works with shoppers who’re novices or new to step-ups, she spots them and affords her hand for security in case they lose their steadiness. Nonetheless, when you’re by yourself, she recommends transferring the step or field over to a wall or doorway and performing the train with the wall to your aspect. This manner, you need to use the wall for assist whether or not you’re tipping ahead or backward.

If you happen to really feel any ache whereas performing step-ups, cease doing the transfer, and take into account consulting a bodily therapist or coach for assist.

FAQ

1. What can I exploit for step-ups at residence?

An precise step—whether or not it’s the primary one or two steps in a staircase or the step in your entrance porch—is a superb choice, particularly for novices as a result of it’ll be low and really secure. If you happen to’d prefer to step up increased, you could possibly use a bench, chair, desk, and even an ottoman.

A very powerful issue is that no matter you are stepping up on is secure and gained’t tip over if you place your weight onto one aspect. You’ll want to take a look at furnishings inside attain of a spotter or wall, simply in case.

2. How can I do step-ups as a newbie?

If you happen to’re a newbie or have restricted mobility, you can begin with a step that’s between 6 and 12 inches, Chakoian says. (In a health club, attempt utilizing an cardio step, and at residence, a single stair.) Use Chakoian’s above up-up-down-down step-up variation. Strive repeating for 40 seconds, resting for 20, after which repeating 3 or 4 occasions.

If you happen to’re new to step-ups or making an attempt to step increased, it’s additionally a good suggestion to arrange subsequent to a wall or door body which you can maintain onto for assist, Archambault provides.

3. What number of units and reps of step-ups ought to I do?

Chakoian loves doing step-ups for time, particularly when doing the up-up-down-down model as a part of a warm-up. Strive repeating for 40 to 60 seconds, resting for 20 to 30 seconds in between units.

If you happen to’re doing step-ups for energy work or reps, she recommends doing 12-15 reps—the final three reps ought to really feel actually difficult, she says.

You are able to do anyplace from one set (throughout a warm-up) to 2 to three units (for focused energy work) to 4 units (maybe in a cardio-strength circuit exercise).


Effectively+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, current, sturdy research to again up the knowledge we share. You possibly can belief us alongside your wellness journey.


  1. Nyberg LA, Hellénius ML, Kowalski J, Wändell P, Andersson P, Sundberg CJ. Repeatability and validity of a standardised maximal step-up take a look at for leg operate–a diagnostic accuracy examine. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2011 Aug 19;12:191. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-12-191. PMID: 21854575; PMCID: PMC3173406.

  2. Neto WK, Soares EG, Vieira TL, Aguiar R, Chola TA, Sampaio VL, Gama EF. Gluteus Maximus Activation throughout Frequent Power and Hypertrophy Workout routines: A Systematic Evaluation. J Sports activities Sci Med. 2020 Feb 24;19(1):195-203. PMID: 32132843; PMCID: PMC7039033.


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