14 Lunge and Step-Up Exercises to Build Lower Body Strength

According to renowned strength and conditioning coach Alan Stein, the stronger and more powerful a player can become in the weight room, the more explosive they’ll be on the court. And with the 2011-12 basketball season right around the corner, it’s important that players make use of the weight room and an effective strength and conditioning program.

In this week’s player development feature, follow along with Stein as he takes you through some dynamic lower body exercises focusing on lunges and step-ups. Hopefully by implementing some of these workouts, your players will lessen the occurrence of injury and improve their performance on the court.

Lower Body Overview

One of the key components to being a more explosive player on the court is strengthening up your lower body and core. Lunges, squats and step-ups make up the bulk of what we do from a lower body standpoint. It’s key that we try to challenge players with as much variety as we can, too.


In this situation, the left foot will be the pivot foot. The left foot won’t move here, just like on the court. There are six different lunges we can do. First, start with just body weight, but then you can progress to dumbbells or medicine balls.

1) Front Lunge – Ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders should stay facing forward.

2) Lateral Lunge – Should start 90 degrees to the right. When stepping to the right, the left foot should stay flat. Make sure your ankle doesn’t roll over. Still keep those ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders facing forward. This workout is great for strengthening the hips and groin.

3) 135 degree Lunge – Keep your left foot facing forward. Your entire left leg will face forward here. Also, you will rotate your hips and shoulders and aim for back diagonal at 135 degrees.

4) Step Back Lunge – This is almost identical to a forward lunge, but now we will step back with our right foot.

5) Step Behind Lunge – With your ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders facing forward, take your right leg and reach it back as far as you can to the left side, dropping that knee as far as possible. Then step back. If you have some discomfort, you can piviot that left foot a bit.

6) Cross Over Lunge – Same principles as before, but now we will step across and in front. Keep your chest square to the direction you are facing.



First, start by putting your right foot on top of the steps or box. Make sure that your entire foot is on top of the step (no heel hanging off).

1) Front Step-Up – Make a right leg step, then drive the left knee up to the sky. Do 2-3 reps with right leg. Leave your right leg up each time.

2) Front Step-Up: Hip Flexor – This workout is the same thing as before, but this time take your foot off the step each time.

3) Step-Up Lunge – Step up and drive your knee up, and when you step back down, lunge back with your right leg/foot. Repeat.

4) Lateral Step Ups – Stand lateral to the step/box. Put one foot on and keep it parallel. You want to pull yourself up using your groin. Just raise the left knee; you don’t have to twist at the top.

5) 135 Step Up – Put your leg perpendicular to the step/box now (i.e. your right foot should face to the right but your body is facing out front). At the top, you will turn and face to the right (or a different direction) and raise your knee in the air.

6) Cross Over Step Up – Stand lateral to the box. Step across with the left foot and on top of the step/box. The right foot never touches the box. Take off your left foot each time and then come to square one.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Alan Stein’s DeMatha Basketball: Strength and Power.” To check out our entire Strength and Conditioning catalog, click here.


These look pretty intense Adam, but at the same time, they look really effective. I’m going to give these lunges and a shot and let you know how they work out for me. Thanks for the tips!

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