Goblet Squat: How To Use It To Move Better, To Become Stronger, and When Not To Use It At All

Discussion in 'Other' started by Steve Freides, Jan 10, 2016.

  1. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    If I may expand on what @Anna C has said about the goblet squat:

    There are many ways to squat and multiple, sometimes conflicting goals that can be the training goal focus. It's best to pick a specific goal then address it with a specific plan.

    E.g., if moving well is the focus, specifically things like opening the hips, finding one's best squat stance, learning to lengthen the spine, assuring good weight distribution, etc., then a good goal is to reduce the weight while keeping posture and depth. Indeed, this is a good use of the goblet squat for _anyone_, and it could be argued that achieving all these things with a light to moderate weight should be a prerequisite for heavier squatting and perhaps even for heavier other lifts as well.

    If you want to move better than simply being able to do a good goblet squat with a light to moderate weight, then you try to go lighter because the weight in the goblet position, while it can facilitate finding a good squatting movement pattern, can also compensate for not having that pattern. We must start where we are - the beauty of the goblet squat is that the counterbalance of the kettlebell lets people who could never squat well get a feeling for what the movement should be like. And for those who squat OK, it still provides a measure of freedom from worry about falling over backwards while looking for one's best form - maximum depth, comfort, and stability in the bottom position.

    But one can also load the goblet squat with a goal of simply being able to squat a heavier weight. That's also a fine goal but, at the end of the day, if you want to squat truly heavy, the goblet squat isn't going to get you there because the weight becomes awkward to hold long before it gets heavy as a squat weight. At that point, racked kettlebells become a better choice - twice as many bells, better supported, means you can use more weight.

    But even racked kettlebells become awkward at some point, and then a barbell front squat or other barbell squat becomes the way to load the squat truly heavy.

    If I were to put these things into an order, it might be:

    Bodyweight-only squat using hands on a fixed object for support (e.g., upright of a power rack).

    Goblet squat with a light weight (~24 kg for men).

    Goblet squat with both less and more weight, noting the differences and working on both.

    Double Kettlebell front squat with yet more weight (men under 100 kg, work up to near bodyweight).

    Barbell front squat with yet more weight.

    Barbell back squat with yet more weight.

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  2. Gassyndrome

    Gassyndrome Double-Digit Post Count

    Very cool stuff Steve. The 'real' way to do the goblet squat was perhaps the best thing I took out of the SFG Kettlebell course I did late last year. That feeling of openness once the full progression has been run through = wow!

    It made everything in S&S make sense for me.

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  3. mprevost

    mprevost More than 500 posts

    This is excellent Steve. Really well done. As an older, primarily endurance athlete, I find everything I need in goblet squats and single leg squats. I have no need to endure the spine loading of heavy barbell squats. I can get what spine loading I need from moderate weight deadlifts and swings. Good stuff.
  4. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @mprevost, thank you for saying that.

  5. Harald Motz

    Harald Motz Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    Always appreciate your clear summary of things, Steve.

    Goblet squats have lots to offer. The last few weeks this is my way to squat.
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  6. Mirek

    Mirek Quadruple-Digit Post Count

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  7. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @Mirek, credit goes to Marty Gallagher for much of what I wrote above because I learned much of it from him.

    Marty gave a two-hour presentation at the first Easy Strength weekend seminar, which I attended, and Marty was later my powerlifting coach, long-distance. I have tremendous respect for him as a teacher and as an athlete, as does everyone who's met the man and knows what he and the people he's trained have accomplished.

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  8. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    Another line of thinking from this is that if you can squat holding say a 40kg (or even much lighter) kettlebell several times in a row you won't have any problem getting yourself into "bent leg positions" in everyday life or in a sport. I guess this is the "move well" benefit of the exercise. For instance in judo and fencing etc you often get into deep stances either due to lunges or true squats.
  9. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts


    I fully agree with @Kozushi Squatting is one of the most "complete" and simple (but not necessarily easy) move. It imples strength if you want to do it with an heavy load, good hip opening and core. Plus it is very functional and natural (lots of babies use the squat as a rest position). This is a move everyone'd do everyday, at least as a WU.

    Kind regards,

    Kozushi likes this.
  10. Norcoaster

    Norcoaster Double-Digit Post Count

    To further @Steve Freides comments, I just finished reading purposeful primitive by Marty Gallagher. Overall very interesting with insights from his decades of experience, as a warning this book could have used some editorial help before publishing.
    Billy59 likes this.
  11. Reubenz

    Reubenz Triple-Digit Post Count

    I appriciate that you linked to that page. What Marty Gallagher wrote makes alot of sence.
  12. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    Although there are individual differences in body type and goal, generally speaking, it seems like regular swings/snatches for endurance/power, light-medium volume Goblet-prying/front squats for strength-endurance/mobility, and heavy deadlifting for strength would be the best return on investment in terms of effect, specialty of the movement, learning curve, risk of injury etc.

    For those with a focus on hypertrophy, the metabolic effect of the barbell squat can't be beat.

    I have reevaluated the importance of the "lowly" goblet squat after seeing positive effects on Muay Thai and core strength-endurance.
  13. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @guardian7, I'll disagree with only one thing you've said, "goblet-prying/front squats for strength-endurance/mobility" - I don't think strength-endurance belongs in there.

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  14. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    Fair enough. I was thinking more of high volume, reps of 10-20, short rest period, low-medium weight goblet squats. Not a good description of the best use of front squats, I concede.
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  15. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    This makes me think of the warmups for my beloved S&S routine. The goblet squats are great for getting my body primed for the swings and getups, but are nothing compared with the swings and getups. Goblet squats are just too light a squat. As an "exercise" goblet squats are great in the sense of keeping your body limber, balanced, and engaging the biceps and grip at the same time as the legs. But overall it's like what happens to the value of suitcase carries compared with swings and getups - they just aren't in the same league; they're great to do if you like them and they do things for you, but if you're going to do swings anyhow, swings are so far beyond just carrying the bell around that there isn't any need for suitcase carries.

    In any case, I've found doing goblet squats along with prying goblet curls with the kettlebell to be great for getting bigger biceps.
    Steve Freides likes this.
  16. Tirofijo

    Tirofijo More than 500 posts

    This completely matches my experience.

    You could insert single leg work in there somewhere. Possibly in between double KB FS and the Barbell Front Squat?

    I've been doing variations of the lunge/split squats, and even with single leg, I find the rack position is as much the limiting factor as my leg strength. I've settled with two sets in the rack position (because I like the core strength the rack position develops, and I want my racked position to get stronger) and a final set with the kettlebells hanging down, which lets me work the legs without the racked position causing the set to stop.

    You are being kind. As someone with no interest in a very nostalgic look back at 70s powerlifting, I found it hard to get through. I'd probably like it better if I didn't have the e-book version and could more easily flip through and find programming ideas.

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