Knee pain is a very common issue that affects most weightlifters, athletes, and the unenlightened who choose not to exercise. While there are many potential causes to knee pain, such as a tight iliotibial band, weak glutes, and quad dominance to name a few, I have found that there is a great solution that works for many.

Since most people compensate for these imbalances by deactivation of their vastusmedialis obliquus (VMO for short), paying attention to the VMO can get you back into pique form with minimal time lost.

Strengthening your VMO helps to counteract many muscular imbalances because many of these issues manifest themselves as tension and strain on the patella and patellar tendon. Strengthening the VMO helps to correct patellar tracking issues and reduces pain. Incorporating the Peterson Step-up into your routine will help to significantly decrease knee pain, no matter the root of the problem.

The Peterson Step-up is a simple exercise that can be done at home or in the gym.

All you need is a low platform, and in most cases, your stairs will do just fine. When you perform Peterson Step-ups properly, you will feel the VMO handling the load. The tension will be on the medial portion (inside) of your knee.


  1. Start by placing the exercising leg on the step, with the resting leg on the floor.
  2. The heel of the resting leg will be slightly ahead of the toe of your working leg.
  3. The working leg (on the step) will be slightly bent, heel raised, with your weight on the ball of your foot.
  4. Slowly push through the ball of your exercising leg and let your heel touch the step.
  5. Your resting leg will remain ahead of the toe on the exercising leg.

Repeat the prescribed sets and reps for each leg, and in just a few weeks’ time you will feel less knee pain and your legs will be much stronger.

The VMO is recruited in many different types of exercises, including the overhead squat and its variations. VMO strengthening will help you in all aspects of your weight lifting routines and athletic endeavors.

Another Variation of the Peterson Step up


We all know how much knee pain sucks, so don’t waste any more time.

Our injury prevention & rehab programs include exercises like the Petersen (Peterson) Step Up that will help reduce knee pain and to increase VMO strength.