Step Ups

Step Ups are one of the best, but under-used exercises for the entire lower body. You can learn about lots more exercises in our list of exercises. Remember, an exercise is only as good as the workout program it is part of. Make sure you check out Best Exercises Programs.

Benefits of Step Ups

Strengthens the entire lower body, but places extra emphasis on the gluteals (butt muscles) and quads (front thigh). Because they use large muscles as well as balance, they burn a lot of calories and elevate metabolism. Step ups are also very functional, so they will strengthen your legs to help with many activities of daily living.

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Body Parts Usedtextbook image of leg muscles

Main focus is on the gluteals and quadricep muscles. Click on image to see it larger.


  • Use just your body weight or hold weights for more resistance.
  • Stand in front of a step that is a comfortable height-where your thighs are no greater than parallel to the floor.
  • Shift your weight forward to create tension on your thighs.
  • Step up on the step until all the way up, but not to the point of locking out your knees.
  • Make sure your knees don’t move in front of your knees.
  • Repeat with the same leg for the desired amount of repetitions or until fatigued.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg.

Alternative/Similar Exercises

Note: One exercise alone is not sufficient for any goal. All exercises should be part of a comprehensive exercise program or try our Daily Workout. Also, see my list of exercises for more.

Mike Caton