Exercise 101: Step-Up Using Free Weights
Name of Exercise —Step-up
Type of Exercise—Multi-joint
Muscles used —Quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks
- Hold dumbbells in each hand or place a weighted bar on your upper back. (Note: You can also do these with no weights.)
- Keep your chest up and out while keeping your shoulders back. Stand in front of the bench or step with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Step up with one leg placing the entire foot onto the step or bench.
- Keep your back straight and avoid leaning forward.
- Push yourself up using the leg that is on the step. Do not push-off with the leg that is on the floor.
- Extend your hip and knee and push your body upward placing the trailing foot onto the step.
- Step off the bench with the trailing leg.
- Try to place the trailing foot at least 12 inches behind the base of the step.
- Bring the lead foot off and place it next to the trailing foot.
- Stand in the starting position and step up with the opposite foot.
- Keep alternating legs throughout the exercise.
Remember to keep your whole foot on the bench or step rather than just the front or the heel. The natural tendency in this exercise is to lean forward as you begin the upward movement, but don’t do it! Keep your back straight.
Repetitions, Sets, and Weight
The number of repetitions (reps) and sets you should do depends on your strength goals. In general, muscle strength works to increase basic function of the muscle and is the typical workout choice. Muscle endurance is important to people who participate in endurance activities, such as running or biking. Muscle power is beneficial for athletes who need to use sudden quick movements (eg, sprinting, football). Beginners should start with a basic routine and gradually move toward a strength, endurance, or power routine.
Beginner : 1 set of 8 to 10 reps
Muscle Strength : 1 to 3 sets of 5 to 8 reps
Muscle Endurance : 1 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps
Muscle Power : 1 to 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps
Use a weight that is heavy enough to perform the desired number of reps and sets for your skill level using good form. Once you are able to perform more reps and sets than is outlined in your category, try to increase the weight you lift by 5% to 10%. Your strength goals may change as you progress.
Baechle TR, Earle RW. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning . 2nd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 2000.
Free weights. American College of Sports Medicine Website. Available at: http://www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Brochures2;Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm;ContentID=8144. Accessed May 7, 2010.
Last reviewed May 2010 by
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