T Nation

Problems Doing Step Ups

Hey guys,

I’m having some difficulty with perfoming step-ups. I read a lot of descriptions from good coaches (on this site) and pretty much every one says not to push off with foot that is on the floor. I can’t seem to be able to do it.

Every time I perform a step-up my body automatically pushes with both feet. I tried pointing the toes of my floor foot up to minimize this, but I still get the automatic reaction and I can barely handle any weight (like 5 lbs dumbells!).

When I perform the step ups my way I have no issues and can handel much more weight.

Do I need to reprogram myself to perform the exercise as described? Is there a weak muscle in there somewhere that is causing this?

Thank you.

Don’t overthink it too much. The “Step-Up” is as simple as the name of the exercise. While the idea is to put all of the tension on one leg at a time, it is not entirely possible, it’s just the idea. You can try using a higher step which forces you to put more weight on the stepping leg. But if you are getting good results just keep doing what you are doing.

Try standing sideways to the step (box), called side tep ups. Helps to work a little bit more of the adductionors and helps to prevent pushing off the bottom leg. Also, just stand of the heel of the bottom foot - can’t push of with the toes or ankle.
Squeeze the glute and the hammie of the leg on the box before you step up.
I use 75 % of your inseem for the max. height of the box. Good step ups are not a wimp exercise.


Yeah, just do them with 1/4 of your brain power focused on not pushing off. As long as you try to minimize it, you’ll be fine.

That goes for a boatload of other exercises. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Two things will help:

  1. Take the foot on the floor and go up on your toes (like a calf raise) so it’s only being used for support. Now try to step up using only your leg on the box.

  2. Use a lower box if you can’t step up without using the foot on the ground.

Thanks guys.