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An improved step exercise platform is presented, that can be used to address specific muscle groups in the legs. The muscle groups can be exercised with a proper angle taken by the foot, which is held at said angle by means of angled steps on the front, back, and sides of the invention.

Certain muscle conditions such as Piriformis Syndrome can be treated in physical therapy by means of this invention, and certain training goals can be reached as well.

Moring Jr., Tommy (San Marcos, CA, US)
Cummings, Miguel (San Marcos, CA, US)
Wilber, David (Carlsbad, CA, US)
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Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STEVEN W. WEBB (Oceanside, CA, US)
What is claimed is:

1. (canceled)

2. (canceled)

3. (canceled)

4. (canceled)

5. A step exercise device comprised of a pedestal base, a left step, a right step, a front step, a back step, and a center step, the step exercise device cast or machined from light-weight, rigid, strong material, the center step in a flat shape, the left, right, front, and back steps each placed at an angle to the center step, the angle of placement between five (5) and thirty (30) degrees, the five steps each possessing a landing surface on their upper sides, the landing surface comprised of a material that possesses a high coefficient of friction, the five steps and the plurality of landing surfaces large enough to accommodate a human foot, the upper surface of the step exercise device possessing a plurality of hook points arranged around the upper surface of the step exercise device, the angle at which the steps are place with respect to the horizontal selected to maximize the ergonomic and biomechanical effect of placing a human foot on said steps during an exercise routine.

6. A step exercise device as in claim 1 where the material is selected from the list of plastic, aluminum, and ceramic, and the hook points are constructed as a formed slot cut or cast into the material of the step exercise device.

7. A method of using a step exercise device as in claim 1, comprised of the steps of attaching elastic tubing to one or more hook points, performing 30 wide regular squats while stepping on the step exercise device without using the tubing for resistance, performing 30 wide regular squats while stepping on the step exercise device with using the tubing for resistance, pausing at the bottom of every repetition of the above exercises for a count of five, doing pulses, or little repetitions at the bottom of each of the above exercises.

8. A method of using a step exercise device as in claim 1, comprised of the steps of attaching elastic tubing to one or more hook points, standing stationary at the bottom or top of range of motion and doing upper body exercises, as follows: bicep curls, triceps extensions, shoulder press, front raises, lateral raises, rows, reverse flies, chest flies, rear delts.



This application claims the benefit of Provisional Application No. 61/054,843, filed on May 21, 2008.


The present invention relates to the fields of personal exercise equipment and physical therapy devices.


The present invention addresses the need for a tool to exercise specific muscle groups in a manner to increase the true strength of the muscle.

True strength of the muscle happens at the tendons usually during the eccentric phase of contraction. Muscle is strengthened by overloading it with an increased stimulus of weight or volume. The tendon of that muscle is strengthened in the same way; each muscle has tendons that are connected from skeletal muscle to bone.

The more applied tension away from the bone over time, the stronger the attachment to the bone. There are end points to each specific muscle; the one closest to the body the proximal attachment is known as the origin of attachment where the distal attachment is known as the insertion of attachment.

Taking a muscle through its complete range of motion is the best method of strengthening these attachment points. The present invention allows for this complete range of motion in the following specific muscle groups:

Adductor Brevisinferior ramus of pubis
Adductor Longusinferior ramus of pubis anterior to adductor
Adductor Magnusinferior ramus of pubis posterior to adductor
Pectineussuperior ramus of pubis
Gracilusinferior ramus of pubis
Flexors of the knee:
Biceps Femorisischial tuberosity and linea aspera of femur
Semimembranosusischial tuberosity
Semitendonosusischial tuberosity
Sartoriusanterior superior iliac spine
Extensors of the knee:
Rectus Femoris
Vastus Intermedius
Vastus Medialis
Vastus Lateralis

The quadriceps group of muscles forms the major part of the bulk on the front of the thigh. Collectively these four muscles are the powerful, prime extensors of the knee joint but at the same time are vital for the stability and well being of the joint. These muscles have dynamic extensor roles such as in highly aerobic or athletic activity and even when high energy moves are not required it is important that they remain in good physical state or damage to the joint is likely to occur, whether at the time or in the long-run.

Anatomy of the Muscle Group

The name quadriceps means four heads but in this case, four individual muscles with a common purpose. Two of the four, rectus femoris and vastus intermedius, give the central power to extension of the knee, working through the patella as a lever, while vastus medialis and vastus lateralis assist in the extensor role but also give vital peripheral support to both movement and the joint itself.

Vastus intermedius is the largest of the four muscles. It is attached to and covers much of the front and sides of the femur. The central fibers run into the patella but on the two sides they convert into flattened tendon, or aponeurosis that run down on each side of the patella to the upper part of the tibia.

Rectus femoris runs down the thigh in front of the vastus intermedius and can easily be seen in a reasonably muscular person. It is the one part of the quadriceps that arises from the pelvis; immediately above the acetabulum of the hip joint. Because of this it is often said to be a flexor of the hip joint but in fact it has poor mechanical advantage over the joint, making it of minor importance in flexion under normal circumstances. Its prime role over the hip is in support of the joint, rather as a dynamic ligament. In practice the rectus muscle with the vastus intermedius, should be considered just as the power extensors of the knee. They both run onto the patella, from the lower end of which a thick, powerful tendon, the patellar tendon runs down into the tibial tubercle, the bony knob on the front of the upper part of the tibia.

The patella is usually called a sesamoid bone, i.e. a bone within a tendon where that runs over the major bone, not only reducing friction on the tendon but also lifting its line of pull, so improving the leverage and therefore efficiency. The patella is a very overgrown version, running over the lower end of the femur and so increasing the leverage of the quadriceps pull on the tibia. This is also improved by the tibial tubercle. The patella is always in relation with the lower part of the femur. With the knee straight it lies on the front, but as the knee bends it tracks round its lower end, it's gently ridged under surface running in the groove between the two condyles of the femur. With the knee bent at 90 degrees the patella lies on the end of the femur and in full hyper extension like on the lowest point of the total tone squat it is even further round. Because of the considerable movement of the patella on the femur, the patello-femoral joint has cartilage on both surfaces but the synovial membrane above also has to be quite extensive. This forms a pouch above the patella, under the vastus medialis and, with the knee straight, the supra-patellar bursa extends about three fingers breadths above the patella and controlled by a tiny slip of the intermedius muscle. The synovial membrane of the bursa unrolls as the knee is bent. It is this bursa that becomes filled with watery fluid, the so-called water on the knee, in the synovitis of knee injury. The Total Tone with its patented pitch and tilt angle provide accurate anatomical ergonomics to reduce this side-to side friction.

It is important to be aware that the femur and tibia are not in a straight line at the knee. Due to the upper end of the femur being set on the side of the pelvis the shaft runs centrally to the knee so that it meets the tibia at an angle; greater in a female due to the relatively wider pelvis. Thus, with the load of the body on the joint, the knee tends to be pushed medially towards a genu-valgum (knock knee) unless effectively controlled, by pulling up of the muscles on the inside. As a result of the angle at the joint the line of pull of the muscles along the femur to the patella has to change to give a straight pull down to the tibia. If the patella does not have a compensating pull medially, it would move in line to the tibia: i.e. it would track or even dislocate laterally. This is in fact a common problem; a spontaneous lateral dislocation of the patella is quite often seen in females, because of the greater angulation at the joint. This happens a lot with sports athletes. Our local studies have shown that the Total Tone works the inner thigh muscles to such a degree that this issue is minimized. Also, the wide nature of the squat on the Total Tone and the foot position makes for that aforementioned “true squat pattern”.

Vastus lateralis arises from the femur behind the vastus intermedius and runs down towards the outer side of the knee joint. It converts into an aponeurosis somewhat above the level of the patella where it joins that of intermedius over the outer side of the knee.

Vastus medialis runs down the inner side or the thigh, much as the lateral muscle. However it also has an oblique portion, arising lower down the thigh from the thick tendon of adductor magnus. This component forms the prominent bulge of muscle on the inner side of the patella, to which it is attached. In a way it can be considered almost as a separate muscle: it has its own branch of the femoral nerve that supplies the quadriceps. The oblique component is vital in ensuring that the patella tracks correctly over the femur and counteracts any tendency for a lateral shift. It acts in that important pull-up on the muscles on the inner side of the thigh that also control the tendency to knock-knee. Recent studies at Physiotherapy Associates, Mesa Ariz. teach us that the oblique portion of the vastus medialis behaves more like an adductor muscle than a quadriceps muscle. It is the most important muscle in providing medial knee stability. The Total Tone's wide squat pattern again focuses on the hypertrophy and strengthening of this particular muscle.

The lateral and medial muscles while, supporting the other two muscles in extension of the knee, also give valuable support to the inner and outer sides of the joint. In fact the quadriceps muscles together with the patella replace a joint capsule and ligaments over the whole anterior half of the knee joint. As such they are vital in producing stability in the joint. If they fail, as so often happens after injury or from disuse, synovitis (water on the knee) is most likely to occur. In the longer term degenerative and other problems of the knee can be put down to poor quadriceps control of the joint. Using the Total Tone as a closed-chain training mechanism will help to rehabilitate and recondition these failed muscles. Using the Total Tone as part of your regular training routine will prevent such muscular deteriorations from accruing.

The condition known as Piriformis Syndrome is often mistaken for sciatica due to its symptoms on the sciatic nerve. Inactive gluteal muscles facilitate development of this syndrome. These muscles are important in both hip extension and in aiding the Piriformis in external rotation of the femur.

A major cause for inactive gluteals is unwanted reciprocal inhibition from overactive hip flexors (Psoas major, Iliacus, and Rectus Femoris). This imbalance usually occurs where the hip flexors have been trained to be too short and tight, such as when someone sits with hips flexed, as in sitting all day at work. This posture deprives the gluteals of activation, and the synergists to the gluteals (Hamstrings, Adductor Magnus, and Piriformis) then have to perform extra roles they were not designed to do. Hypertrophy of the Piriformis produces these symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome.

As shown above, the present invention is designed to work each of the gluteals evenly, and align the spine due to the forced positioning of the toe and lower leg compartment. This position urges and supports active yet neutral gait.

Another suspected cause for Piriformis Syndrome is stiffness, or hypomobility, of the sacroiliac joints. The resulting compensatory changes in gait would then result in shearing of one of the origins of the Piriformis, and possibly some of the gluteal muscles as well, resulting not only in Piriformis malfunction but in other lower back pain syndromes as well.

The types of exercises prescribed and available with the present invention are unique to the sacroiliac joint. Lateral translation happens across the sacroiliac to create mobility, and the quadriceps, and adductors receive most of the weight transfer, alleviating the spine and sacroiliac from direct stress.

Piriformis Syndrome can also be caused by an overpronation of the foot. When a foot over pronates it causes the knee to turn medially causing the Piriformis to activate in prevention of over rotating the knee. This causes the Piriformis to become over used and therefore tight, eventually leading to Piriformis syndrome.

The present invention is designed with knee gait and neutral spine in mind. The spine is forced into the neutral position as is the knee's gait when standing on the apparatus correctly.

Hamstring strains are among the most common injuries to the thigh. Athletes suffer more strains to the hamstrings than to any other thigh muscle.

The exact cause of hamstrings strain is not known. One theory is that the short head of the biceps Femoris muscle is subject to the highest incidence of hamstring strain because, as a result of an idiosyncrasy of innervation, it contracts at the same time that the quadriceps muscle does. Another theory is that a quick change of the hamstring muscle from the role of knee stabilization to that of extending the hip when running could be a major cause of the strain.

What leads to this muscle failure and deficiency in the complementary action of opposing muscles is not clearly understood. Possible reasons include muscle fatigue, faulty posture, leg-length discrepancy, tight hamstrings, improper form, adverse neural tension, or an imbalance of strength between hamstring muscle groups. Hamstring muscles function as decelerators of leg swing and commonly become injured when an athlete suddenly changes direction or starts to decelerate.

The present invention has been designed to build all of the associated muscles evenly and symmetrically. It works at your pace, you can be as aggressive or calm as you want to be with this invention. The constant change of direction directly impacts the hamstrings strength as we have seen in many of our case studies.


The present invention is a new type of step platform to address specific problems in leg muscle training.

The present invention is a unique design. It has angled foot positions that are ergonomically sound in targeting specific muscle groups. The angles are from 5 degrees to 30 degrees angle and pitch. The quadriceps Femoris muscles (Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis, and Vastus Intermedius) are taken through their entire Range of Motion (ROM). The knee extensors are 3:1 times as strong as the knee flexors. The present invention accommodates and supports this skeletal muscle size ratio.

The inventors have developed a system that enables any particular individual to perform a correct squat, one that is more effective than anything else seen.

There were two goals pushing this invention forward: 1) everyone doing a squat should do them correctly and safely, and 2) ensuring a proper gait and a smoothly gliding patella through its corresponding condyles and trochlea ensures the safest and most correct squat possible.

Trainers using the invention would ensure that their clients knees do not supersede the toes, that the spine is as vertical as allowable given the individuals flexibility, and that the power or tension should come from the heel of the foot and not the toe.

The angles of the surfaces on the stepping surfaces on the invention are set up ergonomically for setting the spine and knee in proper functional alignment. By dropping the heel, all of the posterior muscle in the lower compartment of the leg are stretched to a level which allows for a greater pull and stretch on the hamstring and adductor muscles. With a greater pull comes more resistance, leading to increased strength. The adductor Brevis, Longus, Magnus and Gracilus will all be engaged during this particular squat movement.

The quadriceps muscles are the primary muscles trained using the invention. Everything from the Gluteus medius, Tensor fasciae latae, Psoas major, Iliacus, Pectineus, Adductor longus, Gracilus, Sartorius, Rectus femoris, Vastus lateralis, Vastus medialis, Quadriceps tendon, and Patellar ligament engage during this single squat movement. However, this system has been designed with movement in mind. There are more that 100 full body exercises that can be done using the invention and its corresponding parts. Another advantage of the present invention is, due to the increased quad strengthening of the knee-supporting muscles, injury to the knee is minimized. The present invention has also been used for rehabilitation purposes for the quadriceps.

The invention can also be used to strengthen the hamstrings and their connective tendons, by hyper extending them to a maximum degree. Many sports injuries happen when an athlete pulls a hamstring, this normally occurs when the athlete is decelerating. Using the invention and its design to elicit the hyperextension of the hamstring at its origin or on the pelvis strengthens those tendons and ultimately the muscles to withhold more tensile or applied force in both modes of contraction.

Taking a muscle through its full range of motion is the most effective way to train all of the muscle fibers in that muscle. The inventors have seen great results in the development of the glutes, hamstrings and quads using this system.

The theory is that the ROM (range of motion) executed using the “hyper squat system” is so full that it stresses the adductors and the flexors of the knee to such a degree that the movement strengthens the muscle's origin more than with conventional squats. It is well-known that many athletes strain the hamstring muscles during intense exercise. Increasing the ROM will prevent this by strengthening the origin of insertion.

Adductor Group:
Adductor brevisInferior ramus of pubis
Adductor longusInferior ramus of pubis anterior to adductor
Adductor magnusinferior ramus of pubis posterior to adductor
PectineusSuperior ramus of pubis
GracilisInferior ramus of pubis
Flexors of the knee:
Biceps FemorisIschial tuberosity and linea aspera of femur
SemimembranosusIschial tuberosity
SemitendinosusIschial tuberosity
SartoriusAnterior superior iliac spine

Users of this invention have also expressed relief from their piriformis syndrome (sciatic nerve syndrome). It is known that the gluteal muscles are also trained to a very intense level.

Gluteal Group:
Gluteus maximusIliac crest, posterior gluteal line, and lateral
surface of ilium, sacrum, coccyx, and
lumbodorsal fascia
Gluteus mediusAnterior iliac crest of ilium, lateral surface
between posterior and anterior gluteal
Moring, Cummings, et al.Step Exercise and Physical Therapy Device
Gluteus minimusLateral surface of ilium between inferior and
anterior Gluteal lines


FIG. 1. Perspective view of the invention

FIG. 2. Side view of the invention

FIG. 3. Top view of the invention

FIG. 4. Front view of the invention


The invention 100, as in FIG. 1, possesses a pedestal base 101, a left step 102, a right step 103, a front step 104, a back step 105 and a center step 106. The invention is cast or machined from light-weight, rigid, strong material, such as plastic or aluminum.

The steps 102-106 each have a landing surface 107 comprised of a material that possesses a high coefficient of friction. The five steps and the plurality of landing surfaces 107 are designed to be large enough to accommodate a human foot.

As in FIG. 2, the left step 102, the right step 103, and the front step 104 and back step 105 are manufactured to be canted at an angle to the horizontal between 5 and 30 degrees. The three angles 120,121, and 123 are respectively the angle of the front step 104, the back step 105, and the left step 102 and right step 103 to the horizontal.

The angle 124 indicates a forward pitch angle on the left step 102 and right step 103. This is a pitch angle to the horizontal that raises the front of both the left step 102 and right step 103 at an angle between 5 and 30 degrees.

These steps are not adjustable, and the respective angle is selected before the specific instantiation of the invention 100 is cast or machined. Multiple versions of the invention 100 can be manufactured with step angles between 5 and 30 degrees, the left step 102 and he right step 103 possessing the same angle 123 from the horizontal in each instantiation.

There is a plurality of hook points 110 arranged around the upper surface of the invention 100. Each hook point is a formed, slot, cut, or cast into the material of the invention. The arrangement of hook points 110 shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 3 is the preferred embodiment of the invention, but other arrangements are possible, and are included in this application. In an alternate embodiment. Additional hook points can be added by the user, or the manufacturer, and the existing hook points can be moved to alternate locations.

The invention is used by selecting a series of exercises to be performed to address a specific muscle group, and then selecting an embodiment of the invention that possesses the desired step angles to position the feet for the exercise, then performing the exercises. Elastic tubing (not shown) can be inserted into the hook points 110 and held by the user to aid in performing the exercise protocol. A typical exercise protocol is as follows:

Exercise Protocol

Exercises can be performed with or without additional resistance means, such as elastic tubing or free weights.

  • 1). Wide regular squats without resistance

A). a plurality of wide squats without resistance

B). a plurality of wide squats with resistance

C). Every 10th Rep pause at bottom for a 5 count

D). You can also do pulses or little reps at the bottom of the motion

E). Slow 5 to 8 count up and 5 to 8 count down

  • 2). Stationary at bottom or top of ROM and do upper body exercise
  • A). Bicep curls

B). Triceps extensions

C). Shoulder press

D). Front raises

E). Lateral raises

F). Rows

G). Reverse flies

H). Chest flies

I). Rear delts

  • 3). Sway squats, where weight is transferred from one leg to the other. This strengthens the lateral and medial side of the knee.

While the foregoing describes a preferred mode and alternate embodiments, variation on this design and equivalent methods may be resorted to in the scope and spirit of the claimed invention.

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