Step-ups with Alternating Knees

This exercise provided courtesy of Devin Wicks, Director of Fitness Operations at the University of California, Berkeley and specialty strength coach for some of the university's elite sports teams.

Step-ups are already a brutal leg exercise, given a high enough step and enough weight across your shoulders. This variation adds a knee lift, which, in addition to greater leg strength, demands full body balance.

Muscles Worked
Legs - all.

Starting Position
Stand upright facing a box, or an aerobics step on multiple risers, or a flat bench. Take an Olympic bar or appropriate fixed barbell across your shoulders, behind your neck, letting the bar rest on the dip between your deltoids and trapezius, and lightly balancing it with your hands.


  1. From the starting position, use your right foot to step up onto the box, simultaneously lifting your left knee, such that your knee is above your hip when you are all the way on top of the box.
  2. Lower your knee and step down, then switch sides, stepping up with your left foot as you lift your right knee. Your knee must come higher than your hip in this motion. Do not twist -- keep your chest lifted and your shoulders square. Continue to alternate throughout the set.
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About Devin Wicks: Devin Wicks (ACSM-HFI, USAW Club Coach) is the Director of Fitness Operations for UC Berkeley where he develops health and fitness programs for the campus community. He also works as a conditioning specialist for Cal Athletics where he has developed targeted training programs for several Olympic Gold Medal athletes. Devin has presented and toured nationally, providing cutting-edge education for fitness industry professionals and enthusiasts alike.