The Step Up is one of the best lower body workouts, minimal equipment needed with many variations, working multiple muscle groups.
The Step Up, or Step Up aerobics, an exercise phenomenon made popular in the 80’s and 90’s, is often associated with the Jane Fonda fitness style aerobics tailored to women. It has since become stereo-typed a “feminine” exercise and because of that, unfortunately, most men and some women stray from the step up. (How often do you see someone performing a Step Up routine in the gym?) It is really unfortunate that step ups seem to have been left behind because they can truly enhance your be-hind.
The Step Up is a unilateral movement, meaning you are training each leg separately. In addition to working the primary movers, glutes and quads, the Step Up also works the adductors, (inner thighs) calf muscles, hamstrings, lower back and abs. You are also working on better core balance and structural symmetry as you work those legs. The Step Up can be used as a great cardio work out or as a strength and muscle building move. It trains single leg explosiveness because it forces you to produce the power and speed to get through the large range of motion.
There are more than 20 variations of the Step Up. You can even use the Step Up as a total body workout. When incorporating upper body movements into your step routine and using some free weights, you can have a complete workout in the comfort of your own home. For instance, the step up and press works the lower body, the shoulders and biceps. This is a multi-muscle, multi joint compound movement. There are many variations of a Step Up routine that will get your heart rate going, your body toned and strengthen your muscles. Add a great playlist and a killer in home workout is complete.
For a cardio work out, choose a lower step, with light dumbbells or no dumbbells (beginners) at all, performing single leg front Step Ups, single leg side step ups and squat to Step Ups with reps of 10-15 in sets of 2-4. Again, your mileage will vary depending on your cardio threshold and your exercise experience. Use lower steps, less reps, less weight for beginners and then slowly advance. Proper and safe form is incredibly important. ** Make sure your entire foot makes contact with the step (not just your toes) pushing up with the heel.
For a muscle building Step Up routine you’ll want a higher step (A chair or weight bench can work here) and heavier weights. (Again, if you are a beginner, just starting with your body weight is appropriate). You can use dumbbells, a barbell or a kettle bell. For a better booty workout add a kick back to your step up, and a side leg lift to your side Step Up. To build muscle and strength add heavier weights, with less reps and higher sets (for example: 5 reps each leg, 5 times with 60 seconds rest in between sets). Again, focus on your form ensuring it is proper to avoid any injury. **
My Top reasons to incorporate the Step Up in your workout routine:
1-The Step Up is one of the best exercise you can do for your booty, when performed correctly.
2-The Step Up improves structural symmetry and balance.
3-The Step Up saves your lower back from the strain of alternate leg exercises such as the dead-lift. Because this is a movement we perform on a daily basis, either climbing a flight of stairs or stepping up into a higher vehicle, it is a natural movement of your body. When you already begin an exercise with an already natural movement, the exercise is more fluid and less awkward.
5-Less strain on the ankles. The ankles do not flex as much during a step up as they do during a squat. If there is poor flexibility in the ankle, the Step Up is a great squat alternate.
6-There are many variations of the Step Up, targeting multiple muscles regions, achieving different results varying from weight loss (cardio) to muscle mass (high and heavy).
**If you are new to exercising, weight training, or even if you are unsure about proper form and weights, I highly recommend you consult with a professional before engaging in any exercise. This can be a personal trainer like myself or consultants at your local gym. I also always advise my clients/readers/followers to consult with their medical doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.