Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredBodyweight
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush (Unilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Adductors, Calves, Glutes, Hamstrings
Target Muscle Group


Quads Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Bodyweight Step Up Overview

The step up is an exercise used to strengthen the muscle of the leg. In particular, step ups focuses on building the quads, but also indirectly targets the hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core.

The bodyweight step up is an excellent beginner move and a good starting point for those looking to build single leg strength.

One should master the step up prior to moving on to more advanced one leg exercises such as lunge variations, split squat variations, and/or the pistol squat.

Bodyweight Step Up Instructions

  1. Set up in front of a riser which is 8-12” off the ground.
  2. Hold your arms at your sides and initiate the exercise by stepping on to the riser with one leg.
  3. Drive through the front foot and extend the knee as you stand up fully.
  4. Slowly lower back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Bodyweight Step Up Tips

  1. If you’re having trouble with only driving off the front leg, then consider pulling up the toes on the back foot. This will shift the weight onto your heel and prevent you from driving off the ball of your foot.
  2. If you want to emphasize more a pump through one leg versus another, complete all of the repetitions on one side before switching to the other.
  3. Do not rock forward to initiate the movement. Lean forward over the front leg, drive off the forefoot, control the eccentric, step off, and repeat.