Dumbbell step-up exercise

Dumbbell step-up

Exercise details

  • Target muscles: Quadriceps (Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis, Vastus Intermedius)
  • Synergists: Gluteus Maximus, Adductor Magnus, Soleus, Gastrocnemius
  • Dynamic stabilizers: Hamstrings
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Push

Starting position

  1. Holding a pair of dumbbells by your sides, stand facing a raised platform, such as a bench.


  1. Exhale as you slowly step up onto the bench, leading with your right leg.
  2. Bring your feet together on the bench.
  3. Inhale as you slowly step down off the bench, leading with your right leg.
  4. Bring your feet together on the floor.
  5. Repeat, alternating the leg with which you step up and down off the bench.

Comments and tips

  • Ensure that you neither spring/bounce up onto the bench nor allow yourself to drop back down. Control the movement, using your muscles to slowly lift and lower yourself. If you find yourself having to spring, choose a lighter weight.
  • Keep your knees behind your toes to ensure that you activate your gluteus maximus and your upper quadriceps tissue.
  • Keep your body upright and your feet and knees pointing in the same direction.
  • To emphasize your gluteus maximus, stand farther away from the bench; to emphasize your quadriceps, stand closer to the bench.
  • The taller the bench, the more you will emphasize your gluteus maximus.
  • The dumbbell step-up is a great exercise for developing unilateral functional leg strength. You can also use the dumbbell step-up as an auxiliary exercise to improve your barbell squat.
  • See also the step-up, the barbell step-up, and the stairmill climb.

Dumbbell step-up video


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