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

lateral step ups exercise muscles worked

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Lateral step ups are one of the best exercises for your lower body. In this article, you will learn how to do lateral steps and what muscles lateral step ups work.

In general, the step-up exercise is one of the best leg exercises for a wide-range of people, and unlike the squat, deadlift, or Bulgarian split squat, they are are very easy to learn. Step-ups are not much more difficult to learn than walking up stairs, and people of all fitness levels can utilize this exercise.

If you want a more advanced challenge, try lateral step ups!

Lateral step ups are slightly more challenging, and they are especially useful for people playing sports that involve a lot of “lateral” movements.

Keep reading below to learn more about lateral step ups!

Lateral Step Up Exercise Benefits & Lateral Step Ups Muscles Worked

Similar to the traditional step up exercise, lateral step ups have many of the same benefits. However, this exercise targets a few muscle groups differently. A few of the most important benefits of lateral step ups include:

  • Improving Knee, Ankle, and Hip Joint Stability
  • 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

How to Do Lateral Step Ups

As I said before, this is a very simple exercise overall.  Check out this video of me performing this step up variation below, and you will quickly understand how to perform the exercise!

How to Include Lateral Step Ups in Your Workout Program

Although you can completely replace your traditional step ups with lateral step ups, I normally include both in my workout on the same training day.

Using this exercise along with other step up variations has significantly improved the health of my knees and ankles, and I feel much more stable on the basketball court when I am using them.

You can use a variety of different rep ranges for this exercise. If you want to use this exercise at the beginning of your workout, use higher reps such as 4 sets of 20 reps.

I normally choose this option, because I feel like it is a great exercise to use before heavy squats or deadlifts. After performing lateral step ups, my knees and hips are always completely warmed up and activated for heavier exercise.

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 3 sets of 5 reps with heavy weight.

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

Regardless of which rep range you choose; I suggest using them in your workout program once or twice a week. You don’t need to over use this exercise!

Concluding Thoughts – Lateral Step Ups

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, this is a great exercise!


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