Step Ups

Compound exercise, Body weight




Required equipment

Main muscles

  • Thigh: Quadriceps
    (Musculus quadriceps femoris)
  • Thigh: Thigh flexor
    (Musculus biceps femoris)
  • Buttocks: Large gluteus maximus
    (Musculus gluteus maximus)

Training plans

Step Ups is a suitable substitute for similar exercises in Thigh training or as a supplement to various training plans.

Step Ups: Basics and alternatives

Thigh training: Involved main muscle groups Step Ups

Involved main muscle groups:
Step Ups

Step ups are a versatile exercise that can be done in various ways, making them not only popular but also easy to perform outside the gym. As the name implies, you simply step up onto a raised object.

You can do step ups without equipment, with dumbbells, or by wearing a fully packed backpack for added weight. Another option is barbell step-ups. All of these variations help work out almost all your leg muscles, particularly your thighs and butt.

To target the inner thigh muscles more, try the step-ups sideways exercise.

Correct execution

This exercise is easy to learn, making it ideal for beginners. All you need is a stable, elevated object like a flat bench, sofa, stool, or stairs (about two steps high).

There’s no fixed rule for the height, but it shouldn’t be too low or too high. A lower height is less demanding on the muscles, while a higher one might cause injury. Aim for an object roughly knee-high.

Video tutorial

Step Ups - Tutorial

Step-by-step instructions

Stand hip-width apart in front of the flat bench.

Place your training leg on the bench and keep your other foot on the ground.

Shift your weight slightly onto your training leg and extend your other leg back. This will cause your upper body to lean forward slightly.

In this starting position, your abs should be tight, and your back straight.

Begin the upward movement by stepping onto the bench with your training leg. You can either briefly touch the bench with your other foot or keep it extended back. Keep your training leg tense throughout.

Reverse the movement with the same training leg. Your other foot can touch the ground, slightly relieving the load on your training leg, but don’t lose muscle tension.

Once you’ve finished with one leg, switch to the other and repeat.

Common mistakes and injuries

Make sure to only use your training leg when stepping up. Don’t push off with your other leg, as this significantly reduces the training effect.

When descending, ensure your foot is securely and correctly on the ground before releasing tension from your training leg. Even with experience, a small lapse in attention can result in an ankle injury. Extra caution is necessary if you’re carrying additional weight, like a backpack or dumbbells, since it can be painful and lead to prolonged injury-related downtime.