With all my 1:1 clients and online clients, we are cracking on as normal through lockdown, we’re training on Zoom, I’m sending their programs over via our Training App and I’m on hand for questions and feedback, rather than focusing on the fact that most of my clients don’t have access to barbells and heavyweights.
I’m using this time to work on:
- Weaknesses in most clients armory
- Structural Balance
One exercise has been prevalent with most of my clients and that’s the ‘Step Up’. With all that’s required to do the movement being a step, it makes the perfect home workout exercise.
If any of you have suffered from knee pain in the past then chances are you could do with strengthening your VMO (vastus medialis oblique). It’s the tear-drop shaped muscle above the knee on the inside of your quad. This is the muscle that works to extend the knee and protects it upon contact with the ground.
Knee pain is more often than not an imbalance in the quadricep muscles: most commonly the vastus lateralis, on the outside of the quad, being too strong and the VMO being too weak. This imbalance leads to the patella, or kneecap, tracking getting pulled out of line which results in pain.
My primary recommendation in these cases is to do some soft tissue work, such as foam rolling, to relieve tightness in the quadriceps muscles. Following this, you should try to follow a structurally balanced training program which focuses on strengthening your VMO and evens out muscular imbalances: ensuring you regain pain-free function of your knee.
This is exactly what I’ve been doing with lots of my 1:1 clients these past 4 weeks. The Poliquin step-up also called the Heel Elevated Step Up is one of the top exercises to include. This exercise directly targets the VMO muscle.
How do you perform it?
Start with one foot on a step with your heel elevated as high as possible (we recommend standing on a 15kg or a 20kg plate). Keeping your hips square, lower the heel of the other foot down in line with the toe of the elevated foot.
Since this exercise has a very short range of movement we recommend doing 15-25 reps, each side. This ensures that on a 1010 tempo (1 second up and 1 second down) that there is enough time under tension to build up this muscle.
A tip is that hypertrophy tends to occur mostly in sets that last 40-70 seconds and functional hypertrophy in sets that last 20-40 seconds.
The 1010 tempo – 2 seconds per repetition, so:
This makes all these rep ranges perfect for building muscle. After you’ve mastered the Poliquin Step Up you have three options:
- Elevate the heel a little more
- Add more external load
- Progress the Step Up Option
The best progression would be the ‘Peterson Step Up’. This is a far harder version of the movement.
In the video you can see my business partner Gavin performing the Poliquin Step Up.
I can’t stress enough how effective this exercise is for anyone with knee pain, but aside from that, a strong VMO will ensure far greater sporting potential and greatly reduces the risk of injuries in the future, making this a powerful exercise for us all!
So why not add this great exercise to your home training agenda? You’ll be glad you did when you see the huge benefit it has.
Sam ‘Poliquin Step Up’ O’Sullivan
PS: Interested in having more structure with your home sessions?
We have two options: