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Sculpt and Strengthen Your Lower Body with Step Ups

Written by Lauren Rae, Wellness Coach and CPT at TRYM Fitness.

Step ups are another one of my favorite lower-body exercise to improve your stability and build overall strength. While mainly focusing on your legs, this exercise can also help you strengthen your core to help stabilize your hips and spine. In turn, this can decrease any back pain you may be experiencing. If you suffer from back issues that prevent you from doing straight leg deadlifts, this exercise is a great alternative for you!

You will need a step or a supportive chair or low table, weights are optional and the height of the step is totally up to you. Begin with something low (around 15 inches) so that you feel safe, and then raise it higher as you become more confident. The higher you step, the more activation you’ll get in your glutes and hamstrings!

I’m going to show you 3 versions of step ups: Beginner, intermediate, and a power exercise to super set with whichever version is best for you. Make sure you train one leg at a time (even when it burns) and complete 10–15 on each leg. Add step ups to your leg routine to strengthen, sculpt, and tone your lower body!

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Beginner: Bodyweight Step Ups (support optional)

  1. If using a weighted bar for support, counterbalance your weight by placing it in the hand of the leg you’re not working out at the time.
  2. Next, place your left foot on the step and shift your weight forward and rise up onto the step. Keeping your right leg up and off of the step.
  3. Slowly lower back down onto the ground with your right foot and repeat!

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Intermediate: Weighted Step Ups with Kickback

  1. Holding dumbbells or using a weighted bar, complete a regular step up of the left leg.
  2. Stabilize at the top with a slight hinge forward in the hips.
  3. Lift your right leg back behind the box for a ‘kickback’ and squeeze your glute at the top.
  4. Lower your right leg and carefully return back to the ground and repeat.

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Power Exercise: Explosive Speed Step Ups

  1. You do not need weight or balance bar for this exercise.
  2. Begin as you would for a regular step up by stepping on to the box with your left foot and shift your weight over the box.
  3. With strength and power, press up into your left leg and quickly switch so the right leg lands on the box and left foot lands on the floor.
  4. Alternate between left and right with as much speed and power as you can.

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