Step-Ups: Give Your Leg Day an Upgrade

by Metabolic Meals

by Metabolic Meals

Updated Nov 2, 2021

Reading Time:

Step-ups are an amazing exercise by themselves or as a prerequisite to master before moving on to Squats. Most strength and conditioning coaches will tell you that to prevent injuries and maximize athletic potential-we must reduce strength imbalances between the right and left sides. Here are 3 Steps-Ups that will absolutely upgrade your Leg Day.

Russian Step-up

The Russian Step Up is an intermediate/advanced variation that works the entire lower body with some extra emphasis on the Hip Rotators of the lead leg. The hip rotators are often referred to as the “rotator cuff of the hip” because of the support they offer the hip joint. This is a great exercise choice to improve balance and coordination under load.

Technique Tips

  • Press through the heel or mid-foot making sure that the lead leg does all of the initial work.
  • Raise the back knee forward and up until the thigh is parallel to the ground.
  • Lower the height of the step if your upper torso leans excessively forward.

Triple Jumper Step-up

This step up gets its name from the joint angle created from the height of the box.

Because the upper thigh is at an angle beyond 90 degrees, this exercise builds strength through a larger range of motion.

This has traditionally been used by athletes who participate in jumping sports because it helps them absorb more force and lessens the likelihood of injury. The TJS can be used effectively by anyone who wants to train quads, hamstrings and glutes with one exercise while getting some extra mobility work in.

Technique Tips

  • Use a box height that allows the maximum range of motion while making sure that your front leg does all of the work. Somewhere between 18-30inches should work for most people.
  • Keep the front foot flat and drive through the mid-foot of the lead leg.
  • Try to maintain an upright torso and avoid an excessive forward lean.

Heel Elevated Side Step-up

This Step-up version is one of the best exercises to improve knee cap tracking.

Chronic swelling of the tendon that connects the knee cap to the lower-leg bone affects many people and is often linked to a weak vastus medialis oblique(VMO) muscle. By elevating the heel and working off of a lower box, you can effectively isolate & strengthen the VMO. It’s not uncommon for people to drastically reduce knee pain that they’ve had for years after getting better  at this exercise.

Technique Tips

  • Use a low box height (4-12 inches) and elevate the heel (5-30 degrees).
  • Perform the step up from the side and drive through the balls of your foot on the elevated leg
  • Maintain an upright torso and avoid an excessive forward lean

Final Takeaways

As you improve your strength on these Step-Up exercises you can begin incorporating dumbbells and barbells for extra resistance. Increasing the box height can also add extra difficulty. The progressions really are endless and by keeping Step-Ups as a staple on leg days, you’re most likely adding years of strength, mobility and protection to your joints.

Need some help fueling your muscles? We’ve got you covered there too with chef-prepared, ready-to-eat meals delivered fresh to your door. 

Pin It on Pinterest