Today we are going to break down various progressions of the step up exercise. Step ups are a great exercise for athletes of any sport looking to increase speed, lower body strength, or both!
Let's take a look at Rock climbing, specifically, and how steps up can benefit these athletes!
Rock climbing requires good relative body strength, stability and range of motion. Not only do rock climbers need core and grip strength, they also need a significant amount of lower body strength for their size. Solid rock climbers know that they can climb farther if they incorporate large muscles groups (like the core, quads, glutes, hamstrings) more, instead of relying solely on grip strength. That being said, the single leg step up is a great strength exercise to increase lower body strength for rock climbers!
1. Single leg step ups primarily work the quadriceps muscles. Other muscles involved in this movement are the glutes, hamstrings, and calves. To work on unilateral leg strength, place one foot on the box, push directly down through that heel (without pushing off the back leg) to completely come up onto the box (eccentric movement). On the way down you want to descend nice and slow with the same foot remaining on the box (concentric movement).
2. Chain: Adding weight without requiring much upper body strength or balance to hold the weight. This is a great option for a beginner or for someone with an upper body injury who can't hold the weight in their hands.
3. Goblet: Using one dumbbell cup the hands under the top of the dumbbell, hold the dumbbell close to the chest, pull the shoulder blades back to keep the chest up. This variation enforces the use of good posture.
4. Barbell: Placing a barbell on the traps requires more core activation and balance throughout the movement.
5. Increase height of box: This increases the range of motion and will be more challenging. Range of motion of the thigh beyond 90 degrees is often needed during rock climbing. Start body weight, then add resistance of choice when needed.