Squats and lunges have often been the first leg exercise of choice in the fitness community. Practically every workout video includes them and so does every body pump class. These are actually technically demanding, and there is also a danger of overloading the joints with real beginners.
But how easy is a step-up? And here’s the best bit; you girls are more likely to ‘tone your butt’ (not an expression I should be using) with the step-up. On lunges they keep telling us to have a 90 degree bend at both knees but this can stretch the hip flexor (an already tight area) excessively and cause a compensation at the back knee especially if there is a lack of balance. With squats, someone may be quad dominant so nothing is working in the hip-area. Also, if we only go down to parallel and pulse (like in bodypump) the knee really does not like this. Steps however are more of a single-leg exercise and single-leg training has been proven to address knee-pain. Do you not believe me? Check this article:
So this article goes through single-leg squats but the step-up is easier to execute. There are so many variations and I talk you through a few of them in this video
And here is a simple 30 repetition workout demonstrated by the lovely Natasha
So step-ups are a win-win. Glute activation, functionality, intensity and variety. And as I mention in the video it is still important to squat and lunge, especially from a mobility point-of-view but if the form isn’t there neither are the mechanics, then why bother. Work on perfecting the technique and achieve your fitness goals in the meantime with steps. Oh and that does not include ‘Bodystep’. A step-up needs to have a full extension at knee and hips. The half extension in step-aerobics are also potentially problematic. Maybe someone should come up with a step-aerobic workout where the knee and hip extend every time.