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Poliquin Step Up: Intense VMO isolation to Bulletproof Your Knees

Looks can be deceiving.

The first time I saw someone do this exercise on Instagram, I thought it was some kind of joke.

The range of motion is tiny, and is just looks like an overall silly exercise.

However over the next few months, I started to see many people in the fitness industry such as Ben Patrick (aka Knees Over Toes Guy) incorporate this exercise.

So I figured it was time to start trying them out.

Furthermore, I learned this exercises was named after a famous strength coach and best-selling author Charles Poloquin.

He also popularized German Volume Training.

Lastly, the Poloquin lateral raise is also named after him!

To my surprise this exercise is a lot harder than it looks!

In this blog post, we will go over:

  • Poloquin Step Up Benefits
  • Poloquin Step Up Set up
  • Poloquin Step Up Equipment
  • Poloquin Step Up Progressions

Poloquin Step Up Benefits


The VMO muscle plays an major role in extending the knee and providing overall stability to the knee joint.

Ultimately, this means a strong VMO is key for a healthy injury-free knee.

The VMO is trained in many exercises such as the squat and lunge, this isolation exercise really gives this muscle the attention it deserved.

Muscular Balance

Due to Poliquin Step Ups being a single leg exercise, they strengthening each leg separately and can fix muscular imbalances.

Core and Stabilizers

This exercise requires you engage your core to keep your hips straight and to balance.

How to Perform Poloquin Step Up

1. Start with one foot on a step with your heel elevated. We recommend standing on an elevated surface like a step platform or a bumper plate.

2. Keeping your hips square and keep your torso upright. Lower the other foot down in line with the toe of the elevated foot;

3. From the bottom, push with the working foot to return to the start position;

4. Repeat for reps. We recommend doing 15-25 reps each side since the primary mover is a small muscle and the range of motion is also small.

Poloquin Step Up Equipment

Poloquin Step Up Progressions

There are two ways to increase the difficulty.

Increase elevation: By elevating your working foot, you increae the range of motion.

However don't increase than around a 10". Otherwise the movment will start looking like a single leg pistol squat you will start training the quads and glutes.

Increasing weight: By adding weight, you add more intensity to the exerciee and more muscular tension to the VMO.

You can either hold dumbbells or use a weight vest.

About the Author

Remy started calisthenics in 2014 and has mastered advanced movements such as the one arm pull-up, front-lever, one arm muscle-up and more.