By Elizabeth Towe
Winter is the time of year for planning. Look through the Event Guide and choosing your target events. This months core corner we will review a simple movement pattern, the step up. This is a movement that can serve as a cornerstone for an overall lower extremity strength program. This compound movement involving hip, knee and ankle joints will improve overall functional leg strength, the foundation for endurance events. It is an easy exercise to add heavy resistance for strength in the off and pre- season with the addition of dumbbells. This will increase the core control requirement, but be careful to not sacrifice form by adding more weight than you can control.
- Find a surface you can step up on (ex, adjustable platform, plyo box or stair). Your knee should not be higher than your hip n the initial step up position. Start conservatively lower than this as you begin the exercise.
- Begin the exercise with a dumbbell in each hand in front of your step. Put your full foot on the step, keep the torso tall and lean slightly forward from the hip to shift your weight in to the stepping leg.
- Shift your weight into the front leg and begin to lift your weight, taking the weight out of the back leg without pushing off. This requires slow, mindful movement. Keep the pelvis level, try not to shift left or right.
- As you reach the top of the step, shift your weight to lead the step down with the same leg you stepped up. SLOWLY lower your weight with the leg that is still on the step, using core control to keep your pelvis from shifting and prevent heavily “plopping” your back foot down. Quiet landing means control of the movement.
- Repeat this lead leg for 10-15 repetitions and switch legs. Repeat 2-3 sets on each leg. Progress by adding more weight, maintaining slow, core control always.
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Elizabeth Towe is a runner and a cyclist and the owner of Balanced Movement Studio in Carrboro. She graduated from East Carolina with a degree in exercise and sports science and has been personal training for over 20 years. Her ultimate goal for all of her clients is to help them realize and achieve the optimal quality in their life – and to remember to have fun doing it.