The DB Petersen Step Up is a core component exercise for re-training the muscles of the foot, ankle, and knee to be responsive to the ground. This ability is a key to developing the proper type of strength necessary to be able to run injury-free. The primary muscle of movement for this exercise is the vastus medialis oblique, or teardrop quad. The primary stabilizer muscle for the Petersen Step Up is the gluteus medius. These two muscles act together to maintain the proper position of the femur relative to the ground in foot strike.
Petersen Step Ups are a deceptively challenging exercise. Though they are meant to train the vmo it is common to feel other muscles working initially, especially the muscles of the calves. Most people lose the ability to balance effectively on the metatarsal as they become more sedentary, so it is normal if the exercise results in several initial false starts.
The Petersen Step Up is appropriate for all ability levels, and can easily be modified for the less experienced by lowering the height of the step to as little as 1-inch. We use the Petersen Step Up as an effective personal training exercise for clients who are injured and need to rehabilitate the knee, as well as for more advanced athletes who need to improve their performance, and everyone in between.
To begin the exercise, start with bodyweight. Difficulty may be increased in subsequent sets with the use of dumbbells, as shown in Step 1.
At the beginning of the exercise, it is important to “articulate” the foot of the working leg, as shown. To articulate the foot, bend the foot at the level of the metatarsals – the ball of the foot – and press the ball of the foot firmly downward into the step. Inhale and transfer 75-85% of your weight onto the articulated foot.
In Step 2 above, exhale as you drive the working foot down into the step. Doing so will bring you to the position shown above.
After finishing the ascent to the top, allow the heel of the working leg to come down onto the step. Take a split second to maintain balance, and ensure that the knee of the working leg is in a locked position.
Next, point the toe of the working leg. Maintain a locked knee position, and re-ascend to a fully articulated foot.
Lastly, inhale as you bend the knee of the working leg, and descend, making sure that the supporting knee is locked, and the supporting ankle is flexed, until your foot touches the floor.
The DB Petersen Step Up is a deceptively challenging exercise. Though it is meant to train the vastus medialis oblique, or the teardrop quad, it is common to feel other muscles working initially, especially the muscles of the calves. Most people lose the ability to balance effectively on the metatarsal as they become more sedentary, so it is normal if the exercise results in several initial false starts. Some key points to keep in mind:
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