Lateral Step Ups: Functional Strength

Lateral step ups are an awesome functional strength move. As a skier I find them especially useful training the vastus lateralis, which is front and center when you’re skate skiing.  Whether in sport or life, our world isn’t linear.  Movement in the frontal plane is a vital balance to sagittal plane movement.

For lateral step ups, the prime movers are the gluteus maximus, vastus lateralis, and hamstrings.  They also work the adductors, which are important knee stabilizers.  You’re not gonna get that with a leg press or leg extension.  Who doesn’t want knee stability?

This move is also great for activating the gluteus medium and improving the balance of older adults, in a study written by Mercer et al.

Here, I’m demonstrating lateral step ups with a single 18 kilogram kettle bell. With asymmetrical weighting, you’re also hitting core strength.

You can do these for maximum strength, going for three to six reps with big weight.  Or you can back of the weight and do them for time.  I like mixing up maximum strength sets and sets for time.  For this move, I prefer kettle bells or dumbbells.  You can also wear a weight vest to add additional resistance.