Despite being one of the most deceivingly difficult exercises, the Poliquin step up is one of the most important exercises done at BBCT. This exercise targets the Vastus Medialis Oblique, your VMO. The VMO is part of the quadriceps muscle group, on the front of your thigh and is responsible for extending the knee. More importantly, the VMO is the main stabilizer for the knee, therefore a strong VMO is important for preventing and helping knee problems.
The set up for a Poliquin step up is rather simple, it involves one foot being turned outward slightly, about 5 degrees, and the heel being elevated on a wedge that is elevated off the group. The other foot hangs off the front of the elevation with the toes pointed towards the ceiling. The goal is to tap the heel on the ground.
There are certain things your trainer is looking for during this movement. First, your hips must remain even. The exercise should start at a height where your hip does not drop when lowering yourself to tap your heel on the ground. Everybody’s starting height will be different, and that is okay. It could be as low as an inch off the ground, or as high as a couple of inches.
Another big thing your trainer is looking for is making sure your knee on the leg that is elevated is going over your toe. This helps line up your knee making sure that there is not too much stress coming to the inside of your knee.
There are a couple of ways to progress a Poliquin step up. Once the movement can be performed well at the lowest level, the goal is to increase the height of the step up, while maintaining proper form. At BBCT, we use the big rubber plates. We can start using a 10lb plate to stand on and progress to a 25lb and finally a 45lb plate. Unlike many step up variations, the Poliquin step up will never go higher than the 45lb rubber plate. Once the maximum height is reached, the exercise can be progressed through adding weight. Weight can be added using both dumbbells or a barbell. A barbell is seen as a progression from dumbbells.
The Poliquin step up is one of the few exercises where the number of reps will always be high. Rarely are reps as low as 12-15, most of the time reps will be high, 20-30. This is because the movement has such a small range of motion and tempo can be hard to keep. When done correctly, the muscle that runs along the inside of the knee should be burning.