Lateral Step Ups Exercise – What Muscles Do Lateral Step Ups Work?

Lateral Step Ups Exercise Benefits

Lateral step ups are a simple variation of a common exercise that you can easily add to your workout routine to help you get a stronger and healthier body.

Lateral step ups are a simple exercise that isn’t much different than traditional step ups.

This article will help you learn how to do lateral steps, what muscles lateral step ups work, and why you add lateral step ups to your workout routine!

For a visual representation of the lateral step ups exercise, please watch my video below:

Lateral Step Up Exercise Benefits

Although lateral step ups and conventional step ups are related, there are some benefits of lateral step ups that you won’t get from the traditional step up exercise.

Here are the most important lateral step up benefits:

  • Improving Knee, Ankle, and Hip Joint Stability
  • Prevent Jumpers Knee
  • Improving Lower Body Mobility
  • Developing Hamstring and Quadriceps Muscle Balance
  • Targets the Glute Muscles More than Regular Step Ups
  • Aerobic and Anaerobic Conditioning
  • Stimulates Muscle Mass Development as Well as Fat Burning
  • Improves Central Nervous System Function and Coordination Through “Lateral” Movement
  • Improves Sprinting Speed and Running Mechanics
  • Helps Increase Your Vertical Jump

Lateral Step Ups Muscles Worked

The step-up exercise is one of the best leg exercises for many people because, unlike the squat, deadlift, or Bulgarian split squat, it is a very easy exercise to learn how to do properly. Step-ups require a lot of balance control, but overall they are not much more difficult than walking upstairs.

Step ups are great, but for a more challenging exercise, you can try lateral step-ups!

Lateral step ups are slightly more challenging because instead of simply stepping up forward, you will be stepping up laterally, which requires more balance and control.

Here is a list of the muscles that lateral step ups work:

  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Transverse Abdominis
  • Obliques

Lateral step ups primarily work the quadriceps at gluteus muscles, but the other muscles listed also do a lot of work in the lateral step up exercise, which is why this exercise is so valuable!

How to Do Lateral Step Ups

  • To do the lateral step up, you will start by standing parallel to the bench or box on which you are about to step up.
  • Next, you will place the foot nearest the bench or box on it.
  • Following this, you will use the power of the leg on the bench or box to push your body into the air. If you can, do not use the momentum from the leg placed on the ground to perform the step up.
  • At the top of the exercise, try to pause for a split second to control your balance.
  • Lastly, lower your foot back to the ground.
  • You now know how to do lateral step ups!

In general, it is easy to do the lateral step up exercise. If my written explanation of how to do lateral step ups wasn’t good enough for you, check out this video of me performing the lateral step up exercise:

How to Include Lateral Step Ups in Your Workout Program?

Lateral step ups are a great assistance exercise that you can do on both lower body and full-body workout days.

Although you can completely replace conventional step ups with lateral step ups, I normally include both in my workout routines since they are different exercises.

I use lateral step ups so often in my workout routine because consistently doing this step up variation has significantly improved the health of my knees and ankles. If you have knee or ankle issues, this is a great exercise to help you improve your balance.

Best Set and Rep Ranges for Lateral Step Ups

You can use several different sets and rep ranges for lateral step ups.

One option is to do your lateral step-ups at the beginning of your workout to activate your lower body and core muscles, using higher sets and reps such as four sets of 20 reps.

I normally choose this option, and I feel like it is an especially great exercise before lower-body intensive workout days, such as when I do 20 rep squats.

After doing my lateral step-ups, my knees and hips are always completely warmed up and activated for heavier exercises.

However, if you want to use this exercise towards the end of your workout, feel free to add more weight and lower reps. For example, you could do three sets of 5 reps (on each leg) with heavy dumbbells or kettlebells.

Although you can use a barbell to add weight to this exercise, I prefer dumbbells or kettlebells because it puts less pressure on your spine and it helps develop grip strength.

When I do heavy lateral step ups, I usually pair this exercise with a lighter lower body exercise, such as the goblet squat or jump squats, instead of heavy back squats. If I decide to do heavy lateral step ups, I don’t often do it on the same day as other heavy compound exercises.

Concluding Thoughts – Benefits of the Lateral Step Up Exercise

Lateral step ups are an effective exercise that can help build strong, stable, and functional legs. Whether you are a professional athlete or a weekend fitness lover, lateral step ups are a great exercise!

If you have any questions about the lateral step up exercise, please contact me!

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