Today we’re celebrating Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. So with the indulgence in turkey, gravy, potatoes and of course some pumpkin pie the mind tends to shift towards thinking about ways to burn all these extra calories. Plus as the seasons change our activities move from links and lakes to the hills for winter fun.
So with this in mind I usually like to incorporate more step-ups in the workout. Step-ups are great in that they work well for all levels, they allow you to get in some quality single leg work and with a few changes in the acute variables of sets, reps and rest you can train for a variety of different purposes.
But before you jump in and start with the step-ups there are 5 technique points that will help you perform this lift more safely and effectively.
1. Maintain a neutral foot. Many of us tend to roll into pronation when we bend at the ankle-knee-hip. Imagine your foot collapsing towards the arch when you take a step. If this happens you will disrupt the chain reaction that occurs with ground based motion and have altered mechanics as you step up. Keep a neutral foot and watch that the knee is in line with the 2nd/3rd toes.
2. Paw the bench. With the foot that is on the bench imagine pulling the bench towards yourself. This loads up the glutes and hamstrings which many of us have difficulty recruiting during our leg training.
3. Take a larger step. This ties in with the previous point of trying to engage the posterior chain. Many of us are quad dominant and look to use our quads first and glutes and hamstrings, second, if at all. With a larger step you open up the angle at the knee and hip which takes load off the quads and transfers it to the glutes and hamstrings.
4. Stay tall. Imagine a string through the top of the head pulling you tall. At the same time imagine pushing the chest tall. Both of these actions help set your posture, allow your core to fire more effectively and assist in proper execution of the lift. As well when you set up in this way the hands naturally hang by the body rather than drift out in front pulling you off balance. A common cheat in this regard is allowing the trunk to fall forward onto the lead leg during the up portion of the lift and then completing the rep by extending at the low back.
5. Control the step down. This is where most people fail on performing ideal form on this lift. We are all very good on the concentric part of the lift i.e. when we shorten the muscle and count a rep but sometimes get a little lazy during the eccentric part of the lift. Imagine stepping down onto thin ice at the completion of each lift. Unless there is control of the descent you will break through the ice.
Look to incorporate step-ups into your workouts for the benefits listed above. Make sure to keep these 5 technique points in mind to do them as safely and effectively as possible.
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