There are certain seemingly simple moves where correct form means everything and maintaining it makes all the difference.
In no exercise does this wisdom hold more true than the goblet squat.
Primarily targeting all the major muscles in the lower body, including the quads, glutes, hams, and calves, this beginner level squat also engages the core, shoulders, and forearms. Goblet squats are a favorite lower-body compound exercise because they take you through full range of motion.
American gym training coach Dan John stumbled upon the idea for the goblet squat the way most inventors do. He was confronted with a problem that no existing exercise could solve, so he created a solution.
In his case, he worked in an orientation capacity with newcomers to the gym who had no idea how to perform basic moves like the squat. It was his job to teach hundreds of them proper form in a short period of time.
Using the accepted squat movements he had to choose from were not cutting it. He needed something new.
One day in the mid-1990s while performing routine KB Swings, a light bulb went off inside John’s head. He was resting between swings, holding the kettlebell between his hands in front of him, when it hit him like a ton of bricks. Right then and there, he squatted down from that position, feeling all of the important facets of squat form naturally fall into place.
The movement he executed fell somewhere in between a potato squat and a Zuercher squat, and because the hand placement made it feel like cupping an all-important chalice like the Holy Grail, he named it the Goblet squat.
How to Perform the Goblet Squat
Step 1: Grab a kettlebell or dumbell of your preferred weight and stand with your feet between hip and shoulder-width apart, toes angled slightly out.
Step 2: Gripping a kettlebell or dumbell in both hands as though cupping a goblet, one hand on either side and bending at your elbows so it sits in the middle of your chest.
Step 3: Engaging your core, look straight ahead, keeping your back neutral. Inhale as you push your hips back and bend at the knees, keeping the chest out until your hips are below your knees and elbows come out on either side of your knees.
Step 4: Exhaling, push through your heels as you raise back up to start position in a controlled explosive movement.
Step 5: Repeat until the desired number of reps has been performed.
- Enhance explosive firing power through the hip and legs.
- Teach proper squat form
- Engage your core
- Increase power and strength throughout the posterior chain
- Increase functional fitness
- Improve balance and coordination
- Increase flexibility and agility
- Engage all major muscle groups in the lower body
- Improve athletic performance
- Build lean muscle mass
- Weightless Goblet Squat: If adding weight to the squat is too difficult for beginners, simply perform a goblet squat while holding your hands together at your chest as though holding a kettlebell.
- Dumbell Goblet Squat: As your fitness and strength improve, add in small amounts of weight. It can be easier to start with dumbells as they often come in lighter amounts of weight. Work your way up to kettlebells from there.
- Front Barbell Squat: After you have mastered proper squat form with the kettlebell goblet squat, try a barbell squat for an additional challenge. As with the goblet squat, start light on the weight and add it as you progress.
Form is the Goblet Squat King
Something as simple as not neutralizing the spine, leaning too far forward so your knees come in front of your toes, or pressing up from the balls of your feet rather than driving through the heels can render this exercise not only completely ineffective but downright dangerous.
When Dan John began teaching this form to his orientation class of fitness noobs, it caught like wildfire due to its innate ability to force the body into optimum squat form. Today it is by far the most popular beginner-level squat.
If you are just getting into the fitness game for the first time, or know someone who is, this is one of the best moves to learn or teach.