The step up is a great exercise that works every muscle in the leg. It’s an excellent way to develop leg strength for running and jumping because the independent leg action closely resembles the movement patterns of those activities. Step ups can be done with a barbell, dumbbells or simply using your body weight.
Muscles involved: quadriceps (thigh), hamstrings, hip flexors, upper and lower calf muscles
Action: Stand facing the side of a bench. Place the foot of your first leg on the bench. Stand on the bench by extending the hip and knee of your first leg while your second leg rests behind your first leg without touching the bench (as illustrated in the photo). Lower your second leg back down to the floor. And return to the original standing position by placing your first leg on the floor. Repeat this sequence with your opposite leg, and then alternate between legs for the desired number of repetitions.
Comments: Be sure to look straight ahead and keep your torso upright. When you step close to the bench you emphasize your quadriceps; when you step farther away from the bench you emphasize your gluteus maximus (buttocks).