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How to Do Step-Ups

The Simple Exercise Guaranteed to Reshape Your Butt

Gravity happens. And it can affect your backside. But you can fight gravity and strengthen your glutes with the simple step-up. Celeb trainer Valerie Waters recommends this functional exercise "if you have a flat or droopy butt and you need to pick it up." The move combines the action of the lunge with stepping upward, like climbing stairs, to really target your butt and upper hamstrings. All you need for the move is a short bench, sturdy chair, or solid coffee table to step onto. We've broken down the move into three variations so you can find the version that works best for your level of fitness.

Beginner

Before you start, find a step, chair, or bench that when you place your foot on it, your knee bends to a 90-degree angle. The weight benches or plyo boxes are often the right height, but a dining room chair can work too for an at-home strength-training session.

  • To start, place your entire right foot onto the bench or chair. Press through your right heel as you step onto the bench, bringing your left foot to meet your left so you are standing on the bench.
  • Return to the starting position by stepping down with the right foot, then the left so both feet are on the floor.
  • Complete 15 steps leading with the left foot, then repeat another 15 steps leading with your left foot. Do three sets.

Intermediate

This is a toe-tap variation that will challenge your balance and work your glutes even more. This version works best with a shorter weight bench or a coffee table rather than a chair — prepare to feel the burn!

  • Start by stepping onto the bench with your right foot.
  • Straighten your right knee to stand on the bench while lifting your left leg so the hip and knee are both at 90-degree angles (shown in the photo above). Keeping your right foot still, bend your right knee as you lower your left foot to tap the floor with your left toes without putting your weight onto your left foot. This completes one rep. Press through your right heel as you straighten your right knee to stand on the box. Essentially, your right glute should be engaged for the entire set of reps. That's why it burns!
  • Repeat for 15 reps on each leg. Do three sets.

Advanced

  • Try the beginner variation explained above while holding dumbbells — starting with eight-pound weights in each hand and working up to 15-pound dumbbells. If you're ready for an extra challenge, try the toe-tap version.
  • Repeat for 15 reps on each leg. Do three sets.
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