The Dumbbell Step-Up is a single-leg exercise that strengthens the entire lower body. This exercise trains an athlete for strength, stability and control. All of these attributes are essential for athletes.
A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that ACL injuries among high school students is significantly higher among athletes who play basketball, soccer or lacrosse. Single leg movement exercises are extremely important because they help eliminate strength imbalances between the athlete’s right and left legs. Many athletes have one leg that is stronger than the other due to jumping off one foot or planting on one leg more than the other. To reduce the likelihood of injury, we want there to be as little muscular imbalance as possible.
Since this movement trains one leg at a time, it improves leg stability and control, which is particularly important for all athletes. This exercise focuses on strengthening the hamstrings, glutes and hips and all of these muscles are important for injury prevention.
At the top of the movement, I want the athlete to drive their opposite knee up and hold it for a good two-count. This helps develop single-leg balance and strengthens the opposite hip flexor.
The Cues for the Dumbbell Step-Up are:
- Place the entire foot on the box
- Think about pushing the foot through the box
- Fully extend the leg that is on the box while flexing the opposite hip
- The athlete should stay tall through each rep
- Hold the top position for a 2 count
- Control the body on the way down
- Pick the foot up and drive it into the box on each rep