Barbell Step Ups – Quadriceps Exercise Guide with Photos


Muscles Targeted: The barbell step up primarily targets the muscles of the quadriceps (front of thighs) along with the gluteus maximus (butt muscles). The secondary muscles include the hamstrings (back of thighs) and calves (lower part of leg). The quadriceps “quads” are the four large muscles on the front of the thighs and they are very important for your overall leg development. The glutes are also extremely important and this exercise is one of the best movements for really hitting that area!



Exercise Instructions: Start this exercise like a traditional barbell squat and stand next to a flat bench with a barbell behind your neck securely resting on your shoulders. Step up onto the bench with one foot and then bring up the other foot so that you end up standing on the bench with both feet. To return to the floor, carefully step backward off of the bench with the same foot you started with. You can repeat the movement with either the same foot as you started with and perform several repetitions or you can alternate with your opposite foot and continue in this way to complete the set.

Why This Exercise is Important: This exercise is amazing for targeting not only your quadriceps but especially your glutes which are the large muscles of the butt. It’s one of the best movements you can include in your butt workout routine to really focus attention on hitting the glutes and you will know for sure a few days after your workout when your glutes are super sore!

Things To Avoid: Just like the normal squat, it’s always important to use proper technique when performing barbell step ups. Avoid rounding your shoulders, arching your back and having your knees go past your toes when doing this movement. Since you’re stepping up onto a platform (bench), it’s extremely important to use a slow and controlled motion to avoid injury. Do not rush the exercise and always focus your attention on proper technique. Try to do this exercise in front of a mirror so you can see how your technique is during the entire range of motion.

Reps and Sets: The overall repetitions should be on the higher end, around 12-20 reps per set. Total sets can be in the range of 3-8 depending on how many exercises you have planned into your routine. Remember to avoid going too heavy with these barbell step ups since it’s more about technique than weight.

Other Exercises To Use: Other great glute exercises to use with a butt workout routine include walking dumbbell lunges. For your quads, include barbell squats and leg press. Don’t forget to include hamstring and calf exercises also to make sure your overall leg development is on point.

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