How to Goblet Squat – Form, Muscles Worked, Tips & More

In this article, we’ll walk you through what a goblet squat is, how to perform it, the muscles it works, and more. Let’s get started!  

What is a goblet squat?

A goblet squat is performed the same as a regular squat, but whilst holding a dumbbell or kettlebell infront of your body, like a big cup or goblet, with your palms facing up and grabbing the weight. 

How to perform a goblet squat

1) The Set Up

Foot Width: Place your feet hip width apart, so that you can draw a straight line from your armpit to the inside of your heal.

Turn Out: Slightly turn your toes out, so that they point to around 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock on a clock. 

Weight distribution: Have your weight evenly distributed between your left and right foot.

Goblet: hold a dumbbell or kettlebell infront of your chest, like a big cup or goblet, with your pams facing up and grabbing the weight…keep it held there throughout the lift. 

Trunk & Breath: Take a big deep breath in to create tension within your trunk and brace your core muscles (some coaches use the cues (1) “bring your hip bones together” or (2) “pull the ribs and pelvis towardso ne another”), hold this throughout the lift. 

2) The Downwards (Eccentric) Phase

Initiate the squat by bending at the knees and hips, imagine you’re going to sit down on a chair. 

Make sure you’re heals stay flat on the floor, your knees are inline with your toes and you’re trunk remains upright, with a flat back as you go down. 

3) The Bottom position

In the bottom position of your squat, you’re aiming for your hip joint to pass below the knee joint (i.e. your thighs are below parallel to the ground), this is when your glutes become fully activated.  

Whilst in this position, you still want your heals to stay flat on the floor, your knees are inline with your toes and you’re trunk remains upright, with a flat back. If you can’t maintain this technique, stop at the depth where you can. 

4) The Upwards (Concentric) Phase

From the bottom position of the squat, drive your feet into the floor, your hip and knees should straighten at the same speed as the bar – lead this movement with the chest. Once you’re stood up in the set up position,  you can breath out and re-set, ready for another repetition. 

Technical coaching points on how to goblet squat
Technical coaching points on how to goblet squat

How does a goblet squat compare to other squat exercises?

The goblet squat is relatively low in technical demand and allows an athlete to lift a low-moderate amount of weight when compared to other squat variations such as the back squat and front squat. 

The technical demand and load of variations of a squat
The technical demand and load of variations of a squat

Technical Demand

Goblet squats are relatively low in technical demand when compared to other squat variations such as the back squat and front squat. This is because the weight (dumbbell or kettlebell is located infront of the athlete, so it’s easier for the athlete to create the correct form in their upper and lower body. 

Load

The goblet squat allows a you to lift a low-moderate load (weight) when compared to the back squat and front squat. This is because the strength of the arms and upper back can be a limiting factor on how much weight you can lift when compared to being able to have more weight on a barbell on your back or in the front rack position. 

Practical Implications

The low technical demand and low-moderate load mean’s the goblet squat is easier for athletes to learn and safer for them to perform if they are new to strength and conditioning, which is typically why coaches usually coach a goblet squat before a front or back squat. 

Muscles used during a goblet squat

What muscles do goblet squats work? The main muscles the goblet squat works is the quadriceps, glutes, abductors, adductors, erector spinae and core, in addition to the lats and upper back muscles. Below we’ll go into a bit more detail: 

  • Quadriceps – Prime movers for both the eccentric (down) and concentric (up) phase.
  • Glutes – Maximum recruitment at the bottom of the squat.
  • Abductors and adductors – Aid stability.
  • Erector Spinae – Maintaining an upright trunk position.
  • Core – Stabalise the trunk. 
  • Lats and Upper Back – Work to hold the dumbbell. 

Variations of goblet squats

Pause Goblet Squat

Perform you’re goblet squat as you would normally do, but at the bottom position of the squat, hold that position for 3-5 seconds before driving back up to the set up position

Pause goblet squats can be used to improve you’re strength or when you want to work on becoming more comfortable at the bottom position of the squat and extending from that position.

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

Hold the kettlebell upside down infront of your chest, with your palms facing up, and perform a regular squat. This can be used as a variation to the dumbbell goblet squat. 

Heel Raised Goblet Squat

Place a 1-1.5kg plate on the floor under your heals when you’re in the set up position of your goblet squat.

This will help you to get into to a lower position in the bottom of your squat and keep you’re trunk upright. 

Sumo Goblet Squat

“Sumo” refers to a wider squat stance, in which your feet are placed further apart than a regular squat position. Then, hold the kettlebell upside down infront of your chest, with your palms facing up, and perform a squat. If you want to learn more about a sumo squat, check out our article Goblet Squat vs. Sumo Squat. 

Other frequently asked questions

Are goblet squats better than regular squats?

The goblet squat is better for athletes new to squatting, as it’s easier to learn, safer than back squats or front squats and they will still get a strength stimulus as it’s new.

Goblet squats aren’t as good as back squats or front squats for more experienced athletes who are looking for a strength adaptation, as they can’t usually be loaded as heavily due to the strength of the arms and upper back being a limiting factor.

Are goblet squats harder than regular squats? 

Goblet squats are relatively low in technical demand when compared to other squat variations such as the back squat and front squat. This is because the weight (dumbbell or kettlebell is located infront of the athlete, so it’s easier for the athlete to create the correct form in their upper and lower body. 

Summary

The goblet squat is a great exercise for athletes learning to squat, as its low in technical demand but can be progressed to a moderate weight as the athlete develops their technical competency.

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