The goblet squat is amazing and I'm going to tell you why you should probably be using this weirdly named move regardless of your training goal. The goblet squat was created by strength coach Dan John as a tool for teaching large groups of individuals how to squat without a huge list of intricate cues to keep up with. The act of picking up a kettlebell or dumbell in the front loaded position automatically provides some of the initial cues required for a good squat such as tightening the core and upper back and bracing under the load. Since learning and reading extensively about the goblet squat and applying it with great effect in my own and my clients training I am convinced it is the best way to teach, mobilise, warm up, and activate for the squat.
So how do you goblet squat?
1) Pick up a Kettlebell or Dumbell in the front loaded position and keep feet flat.
2) Core braced and tight with chest up.
3) Sit back and squat between your legs pushing knees out with elbows while facing forward.
It is as simple as that and it is for this reason the goblet squat is the first weighted squat variation I teach to all of my clients. Once you can master a good set of goblet squats the transition to the more complicated barbell varieties becomes much simpler.
The Benefits of the Goblet Squat
So, what is it that makes this simple front loaded squat variation such a fantastic choice for 90% of the gym population? Let me try and explain some of the benefits this simple movement can offer you:
1) The goblet squat is perfect for beginner
As already mentioned the goblet squat makes my job a lot easier when trying to teach a complete beginner how to squat correctly. The position of the load forces 90% of people to tighten up their cores and a few simple cues later almost anyone can squat safely and completely pain free which is always an aim of mine when trying to teach someone this often over-complicated movement! Another reason I love goblet squats for beginners is that all you need is a moderately heavy object (usually a dumbell or kettlebell) and some space, making this a convenient and portable exercise.
2) A great mobility and activation tool
When trying to teach someone to squat correctly there are several roadblocks which I run in to caused by the amount of time we spend sitting down in our day to day lives, these include:
- Inactive glutes
- Poor hip mobility
- Inability to brace the core and upper back muscles
- Lack of thoracic mobility (extension)
- Tight shoulders preventing pain free barbell squatting
By using the goblet squat regularly you will be able to easily and safely activate sleepy glutes, mobilise tight hips, and learn to brace the core under load which has a huge cross over to other squatting varieties. What is even better is that if you are unable to barbell squat due to shoulder pain then the goblet squat is fantastic way to still be squatting but completely pain free! This is why I recommend the goblet squat to everyone regardless of goal, from being used as a warm up to mobilise and activate the correct muscles for heavier squat work or as your entire squat workout if you are unable for any reason to squat with a barbell. In fact if maximal strength is not your goal then goblet squatting could be all you need and until you can comfortably goblet squat a decent load under control I would not even think about progressing to more risky squatting varieties.
Tip: Instead of spending hours static stretching to improve squat depth use a couple of sets of controlled goblet squats and watch your depth and technique improve almost instantly!
3) Goblet squats are high volume friendly
Are you looking to squat more frequently in an attempt to build muscle, improve technique, or as a conditioning tool? Using barbell squats for the inexperienced trainee can be an injury waiting to happen, this is another area where the goblet squat thrives. The anterior (front) loading of the weight when goblet squatting reinforces good technique even when fatigued, something which cannot always be said for high rep barbell squatting.
Tip: Looking to add muscle to your legs? After your heavier squat work use 3-4 sets of high rep goblet squats for a safe and effective hypertrophy stimulus for your legs.
Goblet squats are amazing, right?
I hope this short explanation of the magic of the goblet squat persuades you to start using them in your training. They are easy to learn, teach and reinforce good technique, and give those who cannot squat with a barbell a hugely effective method of squatting without pain. If you find yourself struggling with squat depth due to poor mobility then goblet squat, if you want to warm up thoroughly for heavier back or front squats then goblet squat, and if you are wanting to squat more but are too beaten up from barbell squats then, Ok you get where this is going. As a rough guide I recommend using 2-3 sets of goblet squats in your warm up as a mobility and activation tool regardless of your training level and goal and for beginners focusing on goblet squatting until mastery will definitely be a worthwhile investment in your strength and flexibility.
If this article can leave you with one message let it be this, goblet squats are a hugely effective corrective and strengthening tool for everyone and by not using them you are missing out on an extremely useful exercise. Beginner or powerlifter, pick up something and goblet squat.