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Step-Up to work your quadriceps, hip flexors and strengthen your hamstrings and buttocks in the process

Posted Feb 27 2010 7:45am
Step-ups focus on your quadriceps and hip flexors, but also strengthen your hamstrings and buttocks. Step-ups are a good way to improve the shape and definition of your legs. Performing this exercise can help make activities that involve a lot of climbing less difficult.

When performing step-ups, make sure the step or bench is large enough to accommodate your entire foot, so you can pull yourself up onto the step or bench with your entire foot instead of just the ball of your foot.

Use caution when performing this exercise if you have knee problems. You can lessen the pressure on your knees and make this exercise easier by using a lower step or bench.

You can also reduce the strain on your elbows and shoulder joints and get better balance by holding the dumbbells on your shoulders, your elbows should be bent and off to the sides. Your palms should be facing the ground. Since this position will make the exercise more difficult, be sure to use lighter weights.

1. Hold dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing in.

2. Stand in front of a step or bench with your feet roughly shoulder width apart. Tighten your abdominal muscles to help protect your back.
  • The step or bench should be high enough so that your upper leg is parallel to the ground when you step up.

3. Step up by placing your right leg on top of the step or bench. Lean forward slightly and pull yourself up through the heel of your right foot.

4. When both feet are flat on the step or bench, step down with your left leg and then your right leg.

5. After completing a set stepping up with your right leg, repeat the exercise and step up with your left leg.

Ask Robin...

How can I work my hamstrings and buttocks more?

A. You can perform step-ups that work your hamstrings and buttocks more by positioning yourself farther away from the step or bench. Since you will have to stretch your leg and lean forward more in order to bring yourself up onto the step or bench, you should take extra care not to lose your balance. Make sure the step or bench is secured next to a wall or a sturdy object so it does not slide away from you.

Q. Can I perform step-ups that further target my buttocks?

A. Yes. You can perform step-ups that further target your buttocks by stepping up onto the step or bench with your right foot and then kicking back your left leg to extend it behind you. Your left leg should then come down onto the floor. After completing a set kicking back you left leg, repeat the exercise kicking back with your right leg. This variation also helps build balance and strength in your legs.

Don't you Dare...


  • Step up onto the ball of your foot. Make sure your entire foot steps up onto the step or bench and you pull yourself up through your heel.
  • Hunch or arch your back. Make sure your head, neck and back form a straight line during the entire exercise.

Muscles Pumped...


2. Hip flexors

Other Muscles...

4. buttocks (gluteus maximus)

Have fun!

Yours in Health, Robin

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