How to Propely Perform Dumbbell Box Step-Ups

Build Strong Legs and Butt with Box Step-Ups

The dumbbell box step-up is performed by holding dumbbells at each side of the body, while stepping up and down from a high box. The leading leg can be alternated step for step or swapped with alternate sets.

The "high box" or platform that is utilized in the dumbbell box step-up is typically higher than a standard "step," and most well-equipped gyms have such high boxes available. The dumbbell box step-up is a good exercise for building leg strength and trimming the butt area, as well as providing a solid cardio workout if sufficient sets are completed. A good starting point is 3 sets of 10 steps with each leg.

Find out more about weight training terminology and exercise description if you need background information before you try this exercise.

See some additional dumbbell exercises.

How to Do the Dumbbell Box Step-up - Starting Position

A box step-up.
A box step-up. John Fedele/Getty Images
  1. To properly perform the dumbbell box step up, hold a set of dumbbells, one in each hand on each side of the body, at the thighs and stand facing the box or step. The weight used should be of a weight that will allow you to complete 3 sets of 10 steps with each leg. Thus, you want to make sure to utilize a weight that is not too heavy.
  2. Choose a sturdy box or high step of about 12 inches (30 centimeters). You can use lower heights but this exercise is meant to be on the high box or step. Make sure the high box utilized is solid. sturdy and has a non-slip surface, so that the lifter has solid footing while completing the exercise. Your foot should not slip, and neither should the box when you step onto it.
  3. Step up onto the box, follow with the other leg then step down again to the starting position and repeat. Most people lead with the same leg for each step. You can alternate step-up legs for individual steps or only for the next set of 10 steps.

How to Do the Dumbbell Box Step-up - Points to Note

Box step-ups can be performed without weight.
Box step-ups can be performed without weight. John Fedele/Getty Images
  1. Make sure you have a stable box or step platform in order to avoid slipping and potential falls.
  2. You can alternate legs with each step or each set.
  3. You can increase the impact (and intensity) of this exercise by doing a box march, with or without dumbbells. This is a form of plyometrics. You need to be strong and fit in order to do this exercise with dumbbells.
  4. Start out by doing 3 sets of 10 for each leg, or start with fewer repetitions until you build up muscle and get stronger.
  5. Remember to breathe consistently throughout the exercise.
  6. Warm up prior to starting the exercise. Stop if you feel knee, hip or ankle pain at any point during or on completion of the exercise.

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