By Mike Scialabba
Somewhere along the way of program design and strength training routines, I feel like many strength coaches have lost sight of probably one of the best uni-lateral lower body movements an athlete can perform.
Why would this be?
Most likely because you can write an exercise into a program for someone, but you can't do it for them. Unfortunately like many lifts, the step up is performed incorrectly the majority of the time, and in knowing this, a coach will be more likely to offer movements that may be harder to mess up, allowing the trainee to gain the target benefit of the movement.
Why this movement kick's ass
The step up, when performed correctly delivers an intense amount of activation into the hamstring and glutes, while taking some of the pressure off the knee.
How it get's ruined
This is what's so unfortunate. All you have to do to ruin this movement is aggressively push off with the back foot at the start of the lift, which happens almost immediately with most athletes. This dramatically reduces the activation of the hamstrings and glutes and allows the quads to dominate the movement.
How to fix it
Don't push off! Set a box up to allow the top of the quad to sit parallel to the floor when the foot is on it. Using a barbell or dumbbells (barbell being more effective), extend the hip of the driving leg back, pull the shoulder blades back and slightly lean forward. Take a large breath and press hard out of the upward heel. Full extend the hips through and return to a dead stop back on the floor. Repeat the same way every rep.
Add the step up in as a major movement to the lower body routine, or as an auxiliary movement and increase your arsenal of lower body strength movements.
This exclusive article (and others) can be found in the latest Wannabebig Serious About Muscle Newsletter - September 15th, 2010
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