The step down/step up is another one of our favorite exercises for the training athlete. The step down requires hip stability, quad control (thigh muscle), and ankle stability to perform correctly. It also requires good core muscle activation to stay upright keep all links in the chain moving correctly. This exercise is important because of the enormous amount of time athletes spend on one leg, especially runners. Normally, we start with a step size no larger than the width of a phone book. We instruct our runners to pretend like they are lowering their foot into the swimming pool to test the water (slowly and under control; creative analogy credit to John :) If they are doing this exercise in front of a mirror, they are instructed to try to keep both hips level. Many times we will see people lose hip stability right away which may lead to an injury down the road. They are instructed to try to stay upright and keep core muscles activated. If they do this exercise correctly, it will strengthen much more than just quadriceps muscles. We usually perform 3-4 sets of 5 repetitions. Quality over quantity. When the lower level exercise is mastered, sometimes our runners advance the step to 4-6 inches to increase difficulty. This exercise should be pain-free and only done with a depth that doesn't cause symptoms and produces slight fatigue. We instruct our runners to stay in the pain-free range of motion. As with any exercise program or injury consult a health care professional before starting.