Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush
  • Experience LevelIntermediate
  • Secondary Muscles
    Calves, Glutes, Hamstrings
Target Muscle Group


Quads Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Dumbbell Step Up Instructions

  1. Set up for the dumbbell step up by choosing a pair of dumbbells and holding them down at your sides.
  2. Stand up straight in front of a flat bench or other raised platform.
  3. Keep your eyes facing forward and a slight bend in your knees. This is the starting position.
  4. Lift your left knee and step onto the platform with your left foot.
  5. Once your foot is firmly planted on the platform, use your left heel to lift your body up and place your right foot on the platform as well.
  6. Pause briefly and then step back with your right leg and carefully return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat this motion for desired reps and then repeat while leading with your right foot.

Exercise Tips:

  1. Keep your head up and back straight throughout the exercise. Never allow your back to round.
  2. Add intensity and difficulty by raising the platform. The higher the platform, the more intense the exercise.
  3. Start by using little to no weight. This exercise requires a good deal of balance and caution should be used.
Posted on: Thu, 02/22/2024 - 18:39

Can this be replaced by the dumbbell goblet squat? Would lunge be a better replacement?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 02/25/2024 - 07:16

I believe if you were to make a switch, the lunge will be the better choice.

Posted on: Thu, 10/27/2022 - 14:28

Could I just replace this with dumbbell squats instead, even though the dumbbell squats are on the previous workout day?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 10/28/2022 - 18:49

The dumbbell squats don't offer the same benefits as the step ups, but you can replace it if you like. As long as you're training, that's what matters most.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 11/10/2022 - 07:00

The dumbbell squat hits more quads and a little less on the glutes and hamstrings, but it will also help you improve core stability.

Lunges would be another good substitute since it's a similar motion.

Posted on: Sun, 11/06/2022 - 09:22

What are the different benefits and can i replace the stepup with any other exercises?

Posted on: Sun, 07/10/2022 - 00:21

love the dumbbell workout but can't even begin to finish one rep on the average height of a flat bench (at least not without using my other leg to "jump"start the rep)
I used a stair in a staircase, feels like I don't have the strength or balance to do this exercise without going for a smaller height

anyone else? is using a stair a good place to start?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 07/20/2022 - 08:51

Have you tried doing them on the floor?

Posted on: Fri, 06/03/2022 - 21:28

Can this also be done starting from a kneeling position and standing up while holding dumbbells one leg at a time?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 06/08/2022 - 09:47

Hi, Dante. You could. That would actually be a more advanced version that beginners could try to work up to. If you can do it, go for it!

Posted on: Fri, 01/07/2022 - 19:51

Is both leg(left and right) motion counted as 1 rep or 1 rep for each?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 01/11/2022 - 19:15

One rep each.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 05/16/2022 - 09:17


Posted on: Fri, 04/22/2022 - 09:11

So only to clarify, it’s 3x10 right leg and 3x10 left leg yes?

Posted on: Fri, 02/05/2021 - 14:08

I usually do alternating leg press instead

Posted on: Sun, 01/03/2021 - 01:20

Is there Any alternative to this excerice?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 01/04/2021 - 09:30

Hey Joseph - try dumbbell goblet squats

Luke M
Posted on: Tue, 11/24/2020 - 15:23

Dumbbell jumping squats are better I feel. These don’t burn at all I did 25lbs for 50 no burn.

Posted on: Thu, 11/19/2020 - 18:05

How can you possibly do this at a gym? Everyone will absolutely hate you.

Luke M
Posted on: Mon, 11/02/2020 - 15:05

No burn in the quads with 25lbs 3 sets 10 reps. Burns shoulders more than quads.

Posted on: Wed, 03/11/2020 - 21:32

I'm not doing this at the public gym bruh lol. Easy way for everyone to hate me.

tom b
Posted on: Wed, 09/28/2016 - 13:04

this video is almost correct except

you put your left leg in, your right leg in, in out, in out , shake it all about

more like that :)

michael gilman
Posted on: Sun, 02/15/2015 - 08:18

Video shows step up and down with same foot leading but instructions say up with left and down with right. Which is it do you lead going up and down with the same foot or is it up on one down on the other? Bad editing???

Posted on: Wed, 07/21/2021 - 05:43

The video is probably showing mirroring image where left looks like the right

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/20/2022 - 16:17

I don't think it makes that much of a difference.

Posted on: Wed, 09/14/2022 - 17:01

Michael's question was about whether you step down first with the same leg that you stepped up with first (as in the video—he goes right up, left up, right down, left down) or with the opposite leg (as the instructions are written). I don't know if it really matters, but I've been using the opposite leg. This makes more sense to me because it puts the same leg under tension for both parts of the movement. (Until I switch for the second half of the set, of course.)

Posted on: Tue, 07/15/2014 - 14:26

Hey, that fits exactly what I've been doing!What I've been doing is blsacaily the GI diet. It rates foods based on how quickly they're absorbed into your system the lower the better. And it doesn't leave me hungry either.15lbs over 6 weeks is stretching it a bit but you should be ok (the recommended weight loss is 2lb a week max). Make sure you eat three decent meals and three snacks a day, and get plenty of fruit and veg. Portion sizes are as follows:Wholemeal pasta: 1.5oz (not normal pasta)Basmati rice (brown if possible): 1.8ozPotatoes they say 2-3 new potatoes. If you've seen what that looks like: forget it. I don't bother.Protein (fish, meat as lean as possible): 4oz. Try to go for turkey or chicken ******. Beans and lentils are also good sources of protein and provide additional fibre.Snacks like nuts: a handful, no moreMost fruit and veg are fine (but not melon of any kind).Fats: use plant-based fats (so things like olive oil, vegetable oil etc.). Be sensible with how much you use.Drink a glass of water (8oz) with every meal and take your time eating the meal. If you find you leave bits on your plate not a problem.You should get 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 times a week. That's something like walking. Maybe get off the bus two stops early, take the stairs at work every time No specific exercise is recommended or forbidden, just do what you think. Cardio is good for reducing fat but weights can also help you lose size due to muscle weighing more than fat.Good luck, hope it goes well.

Posted on: Wed, 03/05/2014 - 13:36

IMO what it is suppose to be actually:

starting position: right leg on the bench, left on the floor
action #1: force yourself up on the bench, main driving force being your right leg and especially through heel
action #2: return to the starting position, meaning return with your left foot back to the floow, right is basicly static on the bench

repeat 12 times, switch the bench leg, repeat 12 times.
another set

Posted on: Wed, 01/08/2014 - 18:48

hurts my hands more than anything. felt nothing in my legs.

Aaron Bettle
Posted on: Wed, 10/23/2013 - 11:17

Started with 30lbs 12 reps, no burn at all. i dont have enough weights for more what do i do haha

Posted on: Wed, 06/10/2020 - 10:20

slower reps to increase tension and fatigue

Daniel Hancock
Posted on: Wed, 07/31/2013 - 14:12

definitely a tiring exercise. i use 13.5kg dumbbells for 3 sets of 12.

Posted on: Fri, 07/05/2013 - 11:06

Should you not be alternating between starting with the left leg and then starting with the right this would be one complete repetition (L up R up, L down R down; R up L up, R down L down). Doing it this way would. you not balance the strengthening both quad?

Posted on: Wed, 02/13/2013 - 13:29

It's very easy to start cheating on this excercise if you use the other leg to push you up.

Posted on: Tue, 01/08/2013 - 17:11

It saus i meed to do 3sets of 12 reps but do i have to do 3sets for every leg (so in Total 6sets) ???

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 15:04

Yes - Repeat each set for each leg.

Posted on: Sat, 12/29/2012 - 12:21

Cant wait to try this out. Thanks for posting the pics I'm at work and the video is blocked. ;)

Posted on: Mon, 10/08/2012 - 22:09

I find it very difficult to do this exercise with any significant amount of weight. What is an alternative to this exercise?

Posted on: Wed, 10/03/2012 - 18:50

Wouldn't it be easier just to keep the left foot on the bench the whole time during the exercise? And then keeping the right foot there when training the right leg?

Posted on: Fri, 07/06/2012 - 09:23

The video is wrong, your first leg up should also be the last leg off. Would lifting straps allow you to hold enough weight to make these worthwhile?

Posted on: Wed, 06/27/2012 - 21:38

In the video, you only step up with your right leg. Aren't we suppose to alternate legs every time?

Posted on: Thu, 06/21/2012 - 08:32

Checking the video against the writen instruction its not the same saying step with left and step down with right and the vid shows stepping up and down with same leg?

Posted on: Mon, 04/23/2012 - 14:28

Is it normal not to feel any tension on your quads after 15-20 reps with 7 kg on each hand? If not what should I do? I find this a bit too easy and am afraid I'm not doing t right (although I follow the instructions).

Posted on: Fri, 04/13/2012 - 22:44

I find it very difficult to do this exercise with any significant amount of weight. What is an alternative to this exercise?

Posted on: Wed, 03/14/2012 - 12:37

It's a great workout move, but I strongly dislike these with a burning passion :/