Goblet Squat Vs Sumo Squat

Trying to build up your legs but not sure which squat variation to use?  This goblet squat vs sumo squat article is going to help you decide.

Are goblet squats and sumo squats the same?

Goblet squats and sumo squats are generally not the same exercise, but here’s the tricky thing, they technically CAN be the same exercise when performed in a certain way.

To understand why, you need to know what each term means.

  • ‘Goblet’ simply refers to a way of holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of the body, like a big cup or goblet, with your palms facing up and in grabbing the weight.
  • ‘Sumo’ refers to a wider stance squat, in which your feet are placed further apart than a regular squat position.

So whilst goblet squats are usually performed with a regular shoulder to hip width stance, you could instead technically choose to perform a sumo goblet squat and combine the two things.

Goblet squat vs sumo squat

The main difference between the goblet squat and sumo squat is your stance width.  Most goblet squats are performed with a regular squat stance, so your feet are positioned at shoulder to hip width apart.  Sumo squats on the other hand take a wider stance, typically about 1-2 foot lengths out on each side depending on flexibility.

Are sumo or goblet squats better?

Neither sumo nor goblet squats are inherently better than the other, it just depends on what your goals are, as well as factors like comfort, perceived pump in the muscle and perceived disruption after performing the exercise.

For example, if you do regular goblet squats and your legs are blowing up, and feel disrupted for hours afterwards, then they’re probably a good exercise for you.  On the other hand, if you don’t really feel much of anything, and you’re completely fine afterwards, but sumo squats absolutely blow your legs up, then switching to sumo for a while might be a good idea.

Joints worked and ranges of motion

Both squats fundamentally use the same joints, just in varying degrees and through varying ranges of motion.

JointRegular stance Goblet SquatSumo Squat
Hip JointLow to Moderate ROMModerate to High ROM
Knee JointLarge ROMModerate ROM
Ankle JointLarge ROM (Especially if Ass to Grass)Moderate ROM

Muscles worked during goblet squat

Below is a list of the main muscles worked during a goblet squat:

  • Quadriceps – Prime movers for both eccentric (down) and concentric (up)
  • Glutes – Mainly at bottom of squat
  • Abductors and adductors – Stability 
  • Erector Spinae – Maintaining upright torso position

Muscles worked during sumo squat

Below is a list of the main muscles worked during a sumo squat:

  • Quadriceps – Prime movers for both eccentric (down) and concentric (up)
  • Glutes – Mainly at bottom of squat
  • Abductors and adductors – Stability 
  • Erector Spinae – Maintaining upright torso position

Muscle focus difference

The sumo squat tends to recruit glutes, abdductors and adductors more evenly with quads, whereas the regular stance goblet squat tends to preferentially recruit quads.

When are sumo squats better?

Sumo squats are better for a more well-rounded lower body development.  You’ll hit some quads, some glutes, plus some adductors and abductors.

They’re also a good choice for reducing lower back stress, making them a good option for people coming back from a back injury.

Many people also find them to be a good way to progressively increase hip range of motion.

When are goblet squats better?

Goblet squats are better for quad focused leg development, with a bit of glute, adductor and abductor.

They’re also good choice for reducing hip stress, so may be a better choice for people coming back from a hip injury.

Many people find them to be a good way to increase knee and ankle range of motion.

Other considerations

Safety: Both the goblet and sumo squat are equally safe if you perform them with good technique

Strength: Both exercises are equally loadable for strength development

Hypertrophy: Both exercises hit similar muscle groups, just to varying degrees

Ease of learning: Both exercises are fairly easy to learn

Summary

At the end of the day, both the sumo squat and regular stance goblet squat are solid choices of exercise for lower body development.  The best variation for you mainly comes down to your goals, which muscles you want to target the most, and which exercise feels the best for you as an individual.

Related Squat articles

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Alex Parry
British Weightlifting Tutor & Educator at Character Strength & Conditioning | Website | + posts

Alex is the Owner and Head Coach of Character Strength & Conditioning, and specialises in strength & power development for athletes.

He currently works as a Tutor & Educator for British Weightlifting, and has previously delivered S&C support to gymnastics and swimming talent pathways.