The Step-Up. Hits the quads, hamstrings and bottom.

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The step-up is a very simple exercise, which gives a nice workout to the legs muscles and the bottom. Generally, this exercise is done with the upper part of the thigh parallel to the floor, so quite high.  However, if it is hard to maintain good form – or the wrong sort of ache is felt the next day – it is fine to start on a lower step.  Here are the main points:

  • Make sure the heel and forefoot are completely on the step.  Ideally, toes as well if the step is wide enough.
  • As in the video, stand really tall.  The leg on the step will be straight or slightly turned out.
  • Drive up through the heel, ball and big toe of the working leg.  Chest stays high – watch out for the desire to dip the chest.
  • The trailing leg: keep the knee straight to avoid bouncing on the knee and giving assistance to the working leg.
  • Ideally, at the top of the movement, leave the trailing leg in the air behind you, straight and strong.  However, at first it is fine to put it on the step.
  • It is slightly preferable to work on a firm surface rather than a bench.  But not every gym has a suitable step to step up onto, so a bench may have to do.
  • How can you tell if you are cheating?;  Well,  as you do the exercise, you will naturally assume you need to increase the weight.  Done really well, this exercise is challenging with body weight alone, as the next comment will reveal.  However, we all like to look good in the gym, so heavier dumbbells will be held.  With an increase of weight, the exercise should get noticeably harder.  If it doesn’t, it means you are just pushing off the trailing foot more and more.
  • The trailing leg: you will be pushing off the toes.  To really make this exercise work for you, lift the toes of the trailing foot to disengage the push off.  I guarantee you will make this noise: ‘Oof!’ – or your chest will suddenly dip as you go up.
  • If possible, do this exercise in front of a mirror, watching carefully for working leg knee wobble and keep the working leg hip in line with the knee.  If the knee wobbles or the hip slips out to the side, reduce the step height or ditch the dumbbells.  If it wobbles no matter how low the step, then re visit the Petersen step up and the split squat.  Get that VMO going and the hips working properly.

The first comment below the video made me laugh.  It suggests the man get some Nikes instead of his Vibrams.   Depending upon who you talk to, we are about 2 million years old.  Then Nike comes along and insist we need fancy trainers to help our ancient feet.  Years of evolution needing help by Nike/Asics/New Balance and so on.  Bonkers.  Their profits need boosting, not our wonderful feet.

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