7 Impressive Benefits Of Step-ups

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Most people know that working out offers many positive effects. Find out what specific benefits the step-up exercise offers.

Before going into the positives it is worth noting that you want to double-check that your platform for step-ups is strong enough. Especially if you play to add weights.

1. Step-ups can help you grow and strengthen muscles

Step-ups are typically a resistance training exercise. They make it easy to work a variety of muscles in a large range of motion under tension.

In combination with the right resistance, repetitions, sets, rest, and nutrition, this can then lead to benefits like muscle growth and strength progress.

Some of the main muscles worked with step-ups are your:

  • Quadriceps (front thighs)
  • Glutes (butt)
  • Hamstrings (back thighs)
  • Calves
  • Hip abductors (outer thighs)
  • Hip adductors (inner thighs)

As you can see, step-ups definitely deserve a spot on the list of compound leg exercises due to all the muscles they work.

Interestingly enough, you can change the focus of the exercise by changing your step-up technique. For example, standing close to the platform tends to focus more on your quadriceps.

How many step-ups you should do depends on your training goals. However, to do something like build muscle, you would do 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 15 step-ups per leg with a challenging resistance.

2. Step-ups offer a lot of resistance without weights

For people who are used to squats and deadlifts, one of the first things that stand out in step-ups is that you only use one leg at a time.

One consequence of this is that you can work your leg muscles harder without adding any extra fitness equipment yet.

Since working your muscles hard enough is so important to see results from resistance training exercises, this can be a big benefit of step-ups.

Especially for people who want to work out at home or in the park without investing in weights or bands.

That being said, it is also still worth mentioning that more advanced lifters or people who want to train muscle strength would still benefit from doing weighted step-ups anyway.

3. Step-ups can be good for weight loss

If you want to lose weight, you need to get to a point where your body needs more energy than is coming in. Step-ups can help with this in two main ways.

First of all, doing step-ups requires more calories than most typical daily activities.

The exact number of calories burned with step-ups depends on many details.

However, one very rough estimation is that the average person burns around 89 to 152+ calories per 15 minutes of doing weighted step-ups during the workout.

Additionally, doing step-ups in a good exercise routine can help you build a nice amount of muscle mass. Especially considering that your glutes and hamstrings are relatively big muscle groups.

This extra muscle mass you build helps you burn more calories during everything you do.

The combination of these two things makes it so you can definitely say step-ups can help weight loss. At the same time, keep in mind that your other lifestyle habits will influence your results a lot too.

On top of that, adding muscle mass may keep the number on the scale the same while you are actually making fat loss progress.

4. Step-ups help you avoid muscle asymmetries

In two-legged exercises like squats, deadlifts, and leg presses it is possible to use one leg more than the other.

Since you are basically applying a different workout, this can lead to growing and strengthening one side more than the other.

Muscle imbalances like this can lead to increases in injury risk, walking in an unusual way, and having body proportions that do not look ideal.

Luckily, step-ups help you avoid these things by working one leg at a time. This basically forces you to use each leg equally hard as long as you keep your repetitions and range of motion the same on each side.

Another way to look at this is that step-ups can also help you discover and reduce muscle imbalances.

5. Step-ups can improve balance and coordination

It can feel like some people just have good balance and coordination and other don’t.

However, these are actually skills that can be improved by challenging yourself in these areas to safe extents.

Since step-ups are somewhat challenging in this area, they can help you with this.

In turn, this can help you avoid accidents during daily activities like walking around and climbing the stairs.

You do want to keep in mind that this balance aspect can be a downside if it interferes with your resistance training.

If that is the case, you may want to consider step-up alternatives that are easier in this area.

6. Step-ups can improve your bone density

Not everyone is aware of it but your bone density can change similar to many other areas of your body.

More specifically, doing exercises like step-ups that pressure the bones in your legs more can strengthen these (1, 2, 3).

In turn, having stronger bones reduces your risk of breaking them. Even if you are not at the age where this is a concern, this can be important.

This is because as you get older, it becomes harder to improve bone density. By focusing on this right now, you can save yourself a lot of issues in the future.

It is worth mentioning that other resistance training exercises can help with this too. Step-ups are mostly good for improving bone density in your leg bones.

You don’t necessarily pressure your other bones more than usual unless you do step-ups with weights.

7. You can likely do the step-up exercise at home

The step-up equipment you need to do the exercise is not that strict. You likely have a sturdy chair or another form of elevated surface like a park bench near you.

This is helpful because it allows you to avoid spending time on a trip to a sports field or a local gym.

In many other types of workouts, this is an unavoidable part of the exercise routine.

If you only look at one workout, this benefit of step-ups does not make that much of a difference.

However, if you consider that you will likely have to make this trip multiple times a week, you will be glad to be able to do the step-up exercise at home.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.