Step Ups: Butt and Thigh Exercise
Strengthen the Glutes and Quads

Step ups are a great exercise for the butt and thighs, and they are great for strengthening the glutes and quads.

Both men and women can benefit from this exercise. It works nearly every major leg muscle and can help to tone all the muscles legs while strengthening the entire lower body.

If you hike this is a great leg exercise. If you run this is a great exercise. If you play a sport that involves jumping this is a great exercise.

I guess you can tell that I like this exercise. The reason I think it's a great exercises is because it's so functional. A functional exercise simple simulates the motions that you body has to do during everyday or sports activities.

Most leg machines are not functional (they don't simulate everyday movements), and most machines do not work on balance and core stability.

It's a simple leg exercise and the pictures are below.

Step Ups: Strengthen and Tone the Entire Lower Body

You can hold onto dumbbells when you do this exercise to make it more difficult or you can do this exercise without any weights.

Starting Position: Simply hold onto dumbbells and keep your hands at your sides while you're facing a bench or step.

Form: Begin by placing your right foot on the step or bench. Push yourself up and step all the way on top of the bench. Then, step back with your right leg so that your left foot lowers you to the floor.

Repeat for 5-15 times starting with the right foot. Then, rest and repeat 5-15 times starting with the left foot.

step ups
step ups
step ups

Personal Trainer Tips: You can actually do this exercise multiple ways. The instructions above have you leading with one leg and coming down with the same leg. You can also lead and come down on the same leg.

Example, the above form is up with the right, up with the left, down with the right, down with the left.

You can also do up with the right, up with the left, down with the left, down with the right. This version works the lead leg a little harder.

Step Ups and Knee Pain

Every exercise has benefits and risks, and it is true that the exercises that work your muscles the hardest also place the highest amount of pressure on your joints.

A higher step means more pressure on the muscles (especially the butt and glutes) and more pressure on the knees.

Try a lower step or bench if your knees feel a little sore.

Another issue with the knees is alignment. When your knees cave in there is much more pressure on the knees, so do your best to keep your ankles, knees, and hips in good alignment throughout.

Also, listen to your body. Some people may need to avoid this exercise all together.

And as always, consult a licensed health professional if you have injuries or joint pain.


Step ups are a great exercise for men and women. It's also great for so many different types of athletes.

It strengthens the quads, glutes, and calves, while working on core stability and balance.

It's a great overall leg exercise that can compliment your leg workouts, so try them in your next workout.

Yours in Health,
Dr. Charles PT/PT

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