How to Do Dumbbell Stepups

Boost your Hip and Thigh Workouts

Pacific Islander man lifting weights in gym. Inti St Clair/GettyImages

Lunges and stepups are good exercises for working the leg and butt muscles.

Lunges require you to take a "giant step" forward and back, alternating legs. If you do these with dumbbells or kettlebells in the hands, you call them weighted lunges.

Stepups require you to repeatedly step up and down from a step or box, alternating legs. This exercise combines elements of strength and cardio training.

Like the weighted lunge, the dumbbell stepup described here adds weights to stepups to increase the intensity and workload. Depending on how much weight you add, the number of steps you do, and the height of the step, this can be a demanding, advanced exercise. 

The Weighted Dumbbell Stepup

  • Start slowly. Choose a step or box at the gym or at home, and practice doing stepups without weights. Step sessions are common at many gyms in aerobics classes.
  • Start with 3 sets of 3 minutes; that is, step up and down, alternating legs for 3 minutes at a brisk pace, rest for one minute; repeat for the next 3-minute set and rest; and finally repeat a third time. Adjust pace and rest time to suit your fitness level.
  • Once you have developed some fitness, you can progress to adding dumbbells. Start by holding a light dumbbell in each hand—even a pound or kilo to start with will do.
  • Practice stepping up with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Progress further by adding extra weight.
  • Finally, when you're comfortable with a good solid session of steps with dumbbells, you can progress even further to box or bench stepups, which are higher than standard steps. Find these at you gym or use something suitable at home (see the safety note below). Adjust time and rest intervals to suit your fitness level.

Stepup Safety Warning

You need to be very sure that the platform you are using for the stepups is solid and well anchored so that it won't slip, slide, tilt or collapse, causing you injury.

Don't overdo this exercise, especially if you develop soreness in the knee joints, or if you are prone to knee pain. Two to three sessions each week should be sufficient.

That's it. This can be a powerful yet simple exercise for combining strength, muscle and cardio building.