Effective Lower Body Exercise: Step Up’s Variation, Benefits, Common Workout Mistakes, and Safety Precautions 2023

  Jul 10, 2024
Reviewed by Vivek Upadhyay

Step-up workout

Stability and strength are two important pillars for building a strong body. Multiple variations of exercises are discovered every day, and the old basic exercises are turned obsolete. 

For example, after the introduction of strength training, including dumbbells and weights, an important part of stretching is always skipped by the trainers or gym rats. Well, one can always consider hyperbolic stretching, which includes stretching programs and huge benefits.

What is Step Ups Exercise? Does It Fit For Everyone?

Step-up is a minimal exercise for an effective lower body. Trainers usually consider a full workout incomplete without it. It is a combination of lunges with normal stairs climbing exercise, where with a lead leg, you lift yourself onto the bench (workout steps) and come back to the same position back with a non-lead leg. 

Frequently, leg exercises are considered exhausting, but step-up is one of the easiest effective lower body exercises. Once you use weight with the step-up exercise, it starts training your other muscles, too, for example, the quadriceps, glutes, hips, and calves.

The bonus point of this exercise, it is fit for almost everyone. Even physical therapists advise patients with leg surgeries to perform squats, step-ups, and leg extension exercises. 

Beginning with the non-weighted step-up exercise, you can try extending the weights little by little. You can begin the exercise even at home, but you should be careful while extending the level of the exercise. For example, using much-weighted dumbbells or increasing the height of the chair can lead to back pains.

Here are the easy steps to follow for a step-up workout.

  • First, bring the chair, bench, box, or stepper, which can easily lift you while you put your entire weight on it.
  • Bring your left leg to 90 degrees on the exercise steps, and then bring your right leg too on the stepper while bringing all weight on the right leg (leading leg) itself.
  • Once both the legs are together, now bring the leading leg back first and then the other leg back too
  • Continue the same exercise individually 10 times on both the leading and non-leading leg.

Step-up exercises are easy but highly-effective exercises. You can also try phosphagen creatine as an energy-efficient sufficient supplement before going for step-ups. Next, let’s know the exercise tools that are essentially required to begin step-ups. If you’re tired of tiresome workouts and looking for a fresh approach, give Atrafen Keto Gummies a try. These gummies are not only a delightful treat for your sweet cravings but also an effective aid in shedding excess weight.

Exercising Tool For Step Ups (At Home or Gym)

Step up tools

How many times have you skipped stairs to choose elevators and lifts for minimum movements? Harvard Medical School itself advises adults to take at least 7,500 steps in a day, effectively where “every step counts.” If you are bored with normal walking, begin with the step-up exercise, which requires fewer tools, equipment, and weight at home or the gym. The small list required to begin the step-up exercise has been provided below.



It is always advised to start with zero weight at the beginning of the step-up exercise. Normal lunges and step-ups with effective form and posture ensure strength and effectiveness in the lower-body region. Later, in order to increase the level of the exercise and under the advice of the trainer, you can begin to hold weights (according to your capacity).

Workout Steps, Exercise Steps, or Ply Box


Begin with a smaller box of minimum height, and later you can begin to increase the height accordingly. It is also important to ensure the quality of the stepper/box, or it would lead to unprecedented strains or cramps. 

What Are The Various Benefits of Doing Step Ups Exercise?

Step-up muscles worked

There are several benefits around step-up exercises that encourage masses to include dumbbell step-ups or lateral step-ups in their regular exercise routine. If you were missing out on this exercise, there are several benefits you might want to check out, given below.

  • Unilateral Muscle Growth: The major focus of this exercise is unilateral muscles, i.e., around a single leg. With time, when you increase the weight and perform this stability-strengthening exercise, every muscle and part of the lower body gets trained individually, leading to enhancing your healthy lifestyle.
  • Calorie Burning Exercise: If you perform the exercise with proper steps and focus, step-up exercise and weighted step-up are both effective muscle strengthening and calorie burning. It is one of the effective ways of losing weight like 7-day water fasting. Performing them with a routine with a balanced weight can help in loosening the weight. 
  • Muscle Development: Yes, you heard it right; the lower body muscles get trained individually, and with this calve, glutes, quadriceps, and thighs start building together. The right posture results in the development of the muscles once a right diet of balanced calories is managed after weighted dumbbells exercise.
  • Accessible and Progressive Exercise: In addition to the various advantages, weighted step-ups are easily accessible exercises. All you need is a bench (exercise steps)/ box and dumbbells. By extending the height of the box and the weight of the dumbbells, the step-up exercise can be easily progressed.
  • No Lower Back Strains: Lower-body exercises are mostly considered painful for the lower back, especially the Spine. Doing exercise through exercise steps, even with weighted dumbbells, results in the least low back strains. Most people are worried about their leg days due to the same reason, whereas step-up leads to zero damage to the body tissues or parts.
  • Improve Postures: With dumbbell step-ups, you get trained to bring your muscles into the right posture with exercise steps. Meanwhile, it is also advised to keep the posture straight throughout the step-up workout. Therefore, regular step-ups have resulted in removing posture issues like bending or curling of the back.  

After knowing the various benefits of step-up exercises, it is essential to know the various levels at which this workout is performed. 

Step-Ups Exercise: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Level

With time and experience, people can easily increase the level of their step-up workout. It is essential to enhance the exercise level as it results in better muscle development. 


Beginners step-up exercise

While you start your step-up workout, your trainer will always advise you to begin step-up with a lower height and the least weight. Make sure you are standing with a straight posture while performing the exercise. 

Keep your leading leg on the exercise steps at a 90-degree angle, then bring your other leg ahead on the stepper with complete weight on the leading leg. Both legs will be placed on the exercise steps. Later put your leading leg down and then the other leg too. 


Intermediate step-up exercise

With the intermediate level, you need to advance your exercise with a challenge. So, when you put your leading right leg on the exercise step (at 90 degrees), bring your other leg foot to the hip height and bend it to 90 degrees too. 

Do not put the left leg on the box; rather, keep it at a 90-degree angle, bent. Now bend your right leg knee and bring the left foot toes to touch the ground without keeping all the weight on it. Continue the same steps 10 steps with the leading right leg and then with another one.


Advanced step-up workout

The advanced version includes dumbbell step-ups. You have to carry weights on both hands or your shoulders. Now simply follow the step-up exercise as guided up at the beginner’s level. Do not carry the weight that seems unbearable, as it might not perform the needful strengthening but lead to muscle or bone tension.

Variations of Step-Ups Exercise: Guide, Benefits, and Calories Burnt 

Are you bored with your normal step-up exercise and want to spice it up with some variations? Here are listed some of the best challenging step-up exercises.

Lateral Step-Ups

Lateral step-ups

While performing the lateral step-ups, you have to place the foot on the workout steps laterally instead of simply forward walking onto it. This will ensure effective glute exercise with more core strengthening. All you need to do is coordinate, balance, and limit the loads. 

This exercise is more impactful on the glutes, quads, hamstring, and calves. According to facts, 35 calories are burnt in a minute while performing lateral step-ups.

Crossover Step-Ups

Crossover step up

These ensure the toning of your inner and outer thighs. Using a box and dumbbell, keep the box on the right side. Now place your left leg on the box. While extending it a little, bring your right leg up and place it down on the floor by touching the toes on the other side. Repeat the same by switching the legs.

The step-up crossover targets majorly the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and thighs. It is believed that they can burn up to 400 calories in an hour, if performed extensively. 

Sprinter Step-Ups

Sprinter step-ups

This step-up variation includes a little sprinter move. While you fix your right leg at a 90 angle on the stepper, bring the left leg up to your thighs while bending your knees. Ensure that the left leg stays in the same position for 1 second. Repeat the same exercise by changing the leading leg.

Sprinter step-ups majorly focus on the quadriceps, whereas they also strengthen hip and knee joints. You can burn up to 45 calories in 15 minutes while performing sprinter step-up workouts.

Mistakes to Avoid While Doing Step-Up Exercise: Form, Postures, and Weight Guide

basic step-up precautions

Here is a list of mistakes that you should avoid, as it is better to be safe than to be sorry while performing workout exercises.

  • Ensure that you have the right stepper height, where you can easily place your leading foot at a 90-degree angle. Too much bending forward or backward might result in an injury.
  • If you are suffering from a knee injury, keep the height of the exercise steps lowest and avoid weighted step-ups
  • With weighted step-ups, some pros and cons come too. You may go for increasing the weighted dumbbells, but if the weight is not balanced with your personal potential, you may get back pain or lower body cramps. It might also lead to severe pain in muscles or bone breakdown.
  • While tired, we usually try to finish off the exercise, and this ends up leading to a wrong posture. Try to focus while performing your ending sets, and take huge care of eccentric contraction, which will help in the development of muscle strength, core, and postures.
  • In the step-up exercise, it is essential to keep the leading leg in major control. With heavier weights, if your leading leg gets tired, do not back off the other leg with force to complete the exercise. Not only does it disrupt muscular tension, but it will also affect breathing.  

After knowing the various mistakes, it would be helpful to know some safety precautions in the article ahead. Precautions that can help us from any unwanted injury.

Safety Precautions Before Heading For Step-Up Exercise

Here are some technical safety precautions to take before heading toward step-up exercise.

  • Exercise Steppers: Take a reliable, quality stepper for the step-up workout, or else it might lead to severe injury once you start to increase dumbbell step-up weights. 
  • Athletic Shoes: Your shoes should be athletic, i.e., a strong sole helping you as a companion in your muscle-strengthening goal instead of more strains on the sole of the feet.
  • Right Weight: Ensure that the weights are in accordance with your weight and capabilities. 

Bonus Health Tip

While performing the step-up exercise, you must take the right amount of breaks in between. There are high chances of being exhausted earlier before your 10 sets are going to be completed. So, while doing 50 step-ups in total (with one-leading leg), take a one-minute break after doing 35 step-ups and later complete your set with 15 left step-ups. Begin the same routine with the other leg, too, with proper breathing and focus on getting early improvements.

Closing Thoughts

Lower body exercises are strenuous to perform and majorly avoided due to spinal and lower back aches. However, step-up exercise is a lower-budget effective exercise that can be performed easily at home with the least required tools. Dumbbell step-ups have various advantages, but It is important to increase weight only under the guidance of a trainer. 

Also Read:


Ans: Step-up exercise has been considered an effective lower body exercise that strengthens calves, hips, glutes, quadriceps, and much more without any back and knee pain. Therefore, it is considered a better option than squatting.

Ans: 10–15 minutes of step-up exercise in a day is essential to ensure the lower body effective exercise. You can change the weight by each set or continue to the same weight set too.

Ans: Step-up exercise not only strengthens the lower body muscles, but also helps with fat. It is equally effective on the upper body and cardiovascular system also. Being a calorie-burning exercise, it is counted on for reducing lower belly fat also.

Ans: Yes, step-ups are worth it in addition to the normal cardio and strength training exercises. In fact, it is a combination of both and helps in calorie burning too.

Ans: Yes, step-ups are known for building strong muscles in the lower body region. They also ensure stability, strength, and balance. They are considered more advantageous than the normal squat, as step-ups are performed unilaterally to ensure minimum errors while performing. 

Ans: While doing step-ups, you are advised to hold the weight on the opposite hand to the leg, which is performing the workout or stepping up. For example, if you are stepping your right leg up, carry weight on the right-hand side.


Steve Calechman, 10,000 steps a day — or fewer?, Harvard Medical School, July 11, 2019