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What Are Dumbbell Box Step-Ups?

Your Legs and Butt Will Be Burning So Bad From This 1 Move (and That's the Point!)

If you've ever carried a suitcase or bags of groceries up a few flights of stairs, you know how intense it can be. Your heart is pumping, your legs and butt are burning, and your arms are toast by the time you get to the top. You can replicate that exact feeling with a box and a pair of weights for the ultimate total-body move.

This is a common exercise used not only in CrossFit workouts (it was even in the CrossFit Open 19.3 workout), but you'll also see it in bootcamp-style classes and in Kayla Itsines's BBG workouts. That's because it's one of the best multitasking exercises you can do that mainly targets the legs and butt, but also works your core and arms.

If you're new to strength training, begin with a step or box that's about six inches high, and hold a pair of lightweight dumbbells (three to six pounds). If you're more experienced, use a box that's 20 to 24 inches high and hold a pair of medium-weight dumbbells or kettlebells (eight to 25 pounds).

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Dumbbell Box Step-Ups

  • Find a sturdy bench, table, wooden box, or kid's chair that, when you place your foot squarely on it, your knee is at about a 90-degree angle or larger.
  • Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand by your side (or for a more advanced version, in the front rack position at your shoulders).
  • Step your right foot onto the box, then your left, so both feet are on top of the box.
  • Softly step the right foot back to the ground, then the left.
  • This counts as one rep.
  • Make sure you do as many reps on the right side as you do on the left side.
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