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. Stand with a box or bench in front of you.


  1. Exhale as you step up onto the box with your right foot, keeping your torso upright.
  2. Follow with your left foot, bringing your feet together on the box.
  3. Inhale as you step down from the box with your right foot.
  4. Follow with your left foot, bringing your feet together on the floor.
  5. Repeat until you meet the desired number of repetitions. Make sure to alternate the leg you step up and down with.

Comments and tips

  • For the safety of your knees and ankles, keep your feet and knees pointing in the same direction.
  • Perform the step-up in a slow and controlled manner.
  • As a unilateral exercise, the step-up is great for improving unilateral functional leg strength.
  • Different muscles will be targeted depending on the height of the box or your distance from the box. To target your quadriceps, stand close to the box. To target your gluteus maximus, stand farther away from the box or use a taller box.
  • Changing the height of the box can, of course, also make the step-up either easier or harder. If you are a beginner, use a shorter box. As you become more experienced with the step-up, make it more challenging by using a taller box or wrapping a chain around your neck.
  • See also the dumbbell step-up and the barbell step-up.

Step-up video


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