Gripping technique for KB Goblet Squats

Discussion in 'Kettlebell' started by PaulAtreides, Dec 9, 2018.

  1. PaulAtreides

    PaulAtreides Triple-Digit Post Count

    Hey comrades

    I've started adding goblet squats into my regular training, and I really struggled to grip the 32kg KB,
    I had to jerk around to re-adjust my grip every other rep at 32kg. I had stinging pains in my hand post-workout

    What's the easiest way to grip heavy kettlebells for Goblet squats?

    I'm already training my grip with timed dead-hangs, timed suitcase holds and Sledgehammer levering exercises 4x per week, so I need to either find a doable way to grip the 32kg KB and/or drop the sledgehammer work to fix my program.

    I've uploaded pictures of my kettlebells so you can see the shape and size, plus my hand for scale.

    upload_2018-12-9_21-5-51.png upload_2018-12-9_21-6-25.png
  2. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    Some folks like the bell upside down, some hold the ball part instead of the handle. How you hold it isn't an important part of the movement, @PaulAtreides.

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  3. Adam R Mundorf

    Adam R Mundorf More than 500 posts

    For the non prying version I find it's best to hold upside down by the Bell.

    For the prying version you hold it by the horns.

    The goblet squat is demanding on the grip when doing it with a heavy enough weight. Less so when you hold it by the bell body.
    PaulAtreides likes this.
  4. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    @PaulAtreides, one more thing if you please - a heavy goblet squat just isn't necessary for most people. There are better ways to load the squat, and with kettlebells, the front squat, with the bell in the rack position, is the preferred way to bear a load. Use a lighter weight for your goblet squats, or switch to front squats. For the prying goblet squat, the point is for the weight to allow you to squat deeply - if holding it is a distraction, use a lighter weight.

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  5. PaulAtreides

    PaulAtreides Triple-Digit Post Count

    Thanks for your replies
    up to now I've always held it by the horns because that looked the most normal.
    I will try upside down and holding it by the bell body next time.

    my next "leg day" is friday, I'll keep you posted
  6. fractal

    fractal More than 500 posts

    I cradle the narrow part of the handle between my palms with my fingers pointing upwards. It’s more of a crush grip and without much finger involvement. Both my index fingers are fairly curved from occupational overuse and would be very unhappy if I gripped a bell as you did in your picture. But I would also agree that double front squats are much preferred for greater loads.
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  7. PaulAtreides

    PaulAtreides Triple-Digit Post Count

    I'm doing the non-prying goblet squat. what's the difference between the KB front and the KB goblet squat? is the front squat done with 2 kettlebells?
  8. PaulAtreides

    PaulAtreides Triple-Digit Post Count

    the problem is I only have 1 kettlebell for each weight... does it make much of a difference, other than grip-wise?
    is there any plus to the non-prying goblet squat, except that it requires fewer KBs?
  9. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    Paul, the FSQ is done with one or two kettlebells held in the rack position. If you haven't worked with the bells in the rack position, now would be a good time to get some coaching in the kettlebell clean - it's the gateway to many lifts. I do them regularly with only a single bell, e.g., I might do a set of one-arm military presses and then, after bringing the bell down into the rack position after the last press, I'll keep it that and do front squats. Left side press, so left side FSQ, and after the right side press, then right side FSQ. And one can absolutely use dissimilar sizes, just switch every set.

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  10. PaulAtreides

    PaulAtreides Triple-Digit Post Count

    Oh my KB clean and rack position are pretty good, I can clean the 48kg and I've cleaned & MP'd the 32kg many times. I was just surprised by unilateral/uneven loads for squats, I just thought that was kind of... "bold"... or more difficult not to screw up the whole technique without a spotter (I'm training at home).

    I think what I'll do is try different grip variations on the goblet squat first. Then, once I get more confident and strong with squatting technique overall, I'll switch to front squats. I still need a lot of focus to make sure knees track the toes, hips and back are in their proper positions and that my glutes are active. still new to weighted squatting, need to get the feel for what's right before going unilateral.
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  11. Bauer

    Bauer Triple-Digit Post Count

    You can also try pulling the handle slightly apart, somewhat like "breaking the bar" with an underhand grip.
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  12. Ryan T

    Ryan T More than 500 posts

    Not much to add for the good advice given, but I admit I like varying the load for goblet squats from 16kg up to 32kg; each with its own impact. I hold the handle by the horns, with the fingers wrapped around each side of the handle.

    If you are doing a lot of other grip work, the heavier goblet squat may not be what you need anyway since it taxes the grip more than racking the bell for FSQ. You can groove the movement with a light kb for goblet squats if you feel like you need it before adding a heavier load.

    If you're concerned about your squat technique, take some video from the front and side and post it; you'll get some good feedback and pointers for sure.
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  13. Manuel Fortin

    Manuel Fortin Triple-Digit Post Count

    If you have not been training goblet squats with the difficult weight for a long time, one option is to give it some time and do less reps/smaller sets and build up from there. I find that every time I get back into goblet squats or go up in weight, this has worked. For example, when you start with the 32 after having only used the 24, do sets of 3 without too much of a pause at the bottom. When sets of 3 become easy, you can go up to sets of 5 or more if you wish, or increase the pause time at the bottom. This is what I have done recently. I use the goblet squat as part of my warmup. I usually do 2-3 sets of 5. Sets of 5 with the 32 became easy, so I went up in weight to the 40. At first, the 40 was hard to hold without losing proper posture, so I did two sets of 3 with some rest in between, almost no pause at the bottom. After 6 weeks, I can now do sets of 5 with a good pause. The other kettlebell work I do (snatches and get ups) is enough to make progress even if the actual number of squats is low.

    This is all of course if you want to do goblet squats for what they are good at. For me, it's warming up after sitting all day, mobility and training all the muscles required to hold a heavy weight in the position with proper posture with sets of 5+ with a good pause at the bottom. In that respect, I use the goblet squat as a carry in which I move vertically instead of horizontally. If you are after increasing leg strength, other options such as the double kb front squat, as mentioned by others are better. Even better of course is the barbell squat, if you really want to load the squat.
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  14. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 300 posts

    Heavy goblet squats are much easier with dumbells. This may be the only lift where I think dumbells are better than kettlebells. As you note. the wrist position is not a strong one limiting what should be a lower body movement.

    As was mentioned, weight shouldn't be the focus if you are working on mobility and prying.

    Finally, just move to the front squat as Steve said. Goblet squat is more of a training movement. You can rack it on one side to start and then load it asymmetrically with your other bell later. Alternate for balance.
  15. Kozushi

    Kozushi Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I'm quite impressed with the double front squat, personally. You can load more weight onto yourself with it than the goblet, and the rack position is very comfortable, yet tenses up the entire upper body let alone the lower. It's as full body an exercise as anything!
  16. Bret S.

    Bret S. Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    Goblet squats are my go to move for legs right now, I like the demands they place on my abdomen, this is my focus more than legs, combining these with renegade rows are incredible for tension practice.

    Regarding goblet squat grip I like to use the horns up version, my grip is with three fingers and the index finger points at about 45 degrees up and guides more than holds.
    The heel of the hand tucks hard into the lower half of the horn and is helped by squeezing pecs together, this also becomes part of the tension chain.
    The forearms stay mostly vertical and hands follow in a straight line from the forearm. At no time do I exert pressure 'sideways' on the hand or wrist. The forearms themselves also help to squeeze the bell and hold it up, it feels good to squeeze the bell into my chest as well, this way the bell becomes part of my upper body, front loading it safely and with stability.
    Using this method I can squat with 40k and have no issues, I haven't gone heavier yet as 40 seems about right for 5 reps at the moment.
    Lighter weights feel good also.. depends on the day
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  17. fractal

    fractal More than 500 posts

    Coming from a place of no authority, I think DFSQ is THE double KB movement. Especially with that very satisfying double clean preceding it.
  18. Kozushi

    Kozushi Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I think you're right, and a couple of reasons for this:
    1. The rack position is comfortable.
    2. The rack position engages your arms fully and your grip.
    3. It fully engages your entire upper body actually.
    4. The squat movement fully engages your lower body and lower back.

    I don't see what is being left out.
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  19. PaulAtreides

    PaulAtreides Triple-Digit Post Count

    Thanks for all of your good advice everyone :)

    I feel very tempted to buy a second 24kg and 32kg bell, but I'm on a budget for the next couple of months... DFSQs are awesome, tried them at a friends place a couple of years ago.
    I do have a barbell, a half-rack, J-hooks and spotter arms though, so I guess I should just get real and learn how to barbell-squat properly.

    Since I have an inordinate amount of respect for all kinds of squats (or maybe just the right amount of it, who knows), I'll definitely make a thread for my squatting technique, be it Goblet, DFSQ, Single KB FSQ or barbell squat.

    As for my grip question regarding the goblet squat: I've tried horns up (as described by @Bret S.) which worked really well for the 24kg but not the 32kg (have to reposition the bell after or during each rep, tried upside down which I felt was harder than my initial technique. holding it by the bell body works perfectly for the 32kg, however I have no idea how to get it into that position so I sort of cleaned it up and caught it mid-flip with the other hand, and getting it back down to the floor was a pretty dangerous act of randomness... tweaked my left shoulder blade and wrists a little but should be fine by Monday.

    Is there any good video or set of instructions out there for how to safely get it into and out of that position?

    If you had to choose just one type of squat to train for, say, a year or two, which one would you choose?
    Preferably the technique shouldn't be too taxing on grip and wrists, since I'm already doing a lot of gripwork.
    Also it should be as easy to learn as possible (I've heard people say the low bar squat is hard to learn).
    What I want from the squat is stronger legs mainly for stronger leg drive when footbiking and concept2 rowing,
    and a stronger back for everyday utility, BJJ and injury prevention through strength.

    I'm guessing I should opt for the high bar squat?
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
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  20. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 300 posts

    When I did heavy dumbell goblet squats I would put it on a bench first and then pick it up. It is really hard anpossiblyle not good for your back once the weight gets heavy. This is solved by switching to the KB front squat.
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