Home Exercise Series: Step Up

The step-up is a great all-around exercise for the lower body. It is perfect for all fitness and strength levels as it can be modified to create a great workout for anyone.  

It has a low risk of injury and, with a few adjustments can be made into a cardio, strength, and balance workout. 

An ideal exercise for runners, walkers, falls prevention and those that have been told they have "weak glutes" or "weak quads"

Step Up Exercise
The step up targets the quadriceps, gluteals, hamstrings and core muscles. The great thing about the step up is it strengthens each leg individually, which can help to build muscles equally on both sides.

Being a single leg exercise the step up will also challenge your balance and stability as well as your strength.

Having strong quads and glutes will help to protect the knee and hip joints, reducing excessive load on these joints and minimising pain.



One of the best things about this exercise is how versatile it is and how It can be progressed or made easier with a few adjustments.

Easy strength exercises from homeThe Step up progressions:

  • Increasing step height

  • Holding weights - If you want to increase muscle size and strength, weights can be held by your side or even weights above your head for an increased core muscle activation

  • Increasing speed  - If done at speed with high repetitions then we can turn the step up into a cardio exercise

  • Lateral step ups 


How to complete a Step Up:

  1. Step up with the right foot, pressing through the heel to straighten your right leg.

  2. Bring your left foot to meet your right foot on top of the step

  3. Step your left foot back down to the floor and follow with your right

  4. Repeat this for a specific number of repetitions and sets 

  • If going for strength then complete 3 x 8-10 reps while holding weight 

  • If going for cardio complete 3 x 30-45 sec 


Things to look out for:

  • Make sure to push up with your leading leg on the step and not from the trailing leg on the ground. 

  • Keep your body weight over your foot as you push up

  • Aim to keep your ankle knee and hip all in line and avoid the knee collapsing inward


Beginners can start with a rail or hand support to help with the balance and coordination. 

Safety first! Do not continue if you have any pain or feel like you may fall

Our Physio Michael Gilbert has written an article in The Guardian newspaper about the Step Up exercise.


Any questions or if having any pain doing these exercises please contact one of our Active Answers Physiotherapists 


Previously Known as Appleby Physiotherapy 



1-3 Burnt Street
NSW 2092
(02) 9907 9667

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