Box Step Ups:
The box step-up is an effective unilateral exercise that helps to improve symmetry, balance, and coordination, while developing strength and power in the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. It also builds stability in the hip, knee, and ankle joints. When stepping up to a high enough box, you are also working range of motion, which allows for better mobility in a squat and lunge position.
To perform the step-up, place one foot on top of the box, with one foot on the ground. Your weight should be shifted into the heel of your foot that is on the box. Driving through that front heel, extend your leg completely straight before bringing the opposite foot onto the box. A slow descent is recommended in order to properly load the joints and teach your body proper positioning, while focusing on targeting the proper muscles for the exercise.
There are many different variations for the box step-up. You can do forward or lateral step-ups, step-overs, or dynamic step-ups. You can do them weighted or un-weighted. You can even change the way you are stepping up, targeting different muscle groups with different variations. For example, if you shift your weight onto the toes of your step-up leg, you will target your calf and quad muscles more than your posterior (hamstrings and glutes), as you do when you keep the weight in your heels.
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When doing weighted step-ups, you can use dumbbells, kettle bells, or a barbell. You can hold the weights down at your sides or in a front rack or back rack position. When doing weighted step-ups always, focus on positioning and prioritize the efficiency of the movement over the load.