What you need to know about the Goblet Squat

What you need to know about the Goblet Squat

The goblet squat revolutionized the way squats are performed and taught around the world after the great Dan John invented it. If you don’t know what a goblet squat is, I have Dan John come to your house and give you his goblet squat workout personally, but it’s probably more realistic if you’re just looking for the name on Google. Now! Ironically though Dan John stumbled across the goblet squat.

“Years ago I had to teach 400 athletes how to squat correctly. I tried move after move and lift after lift, but failed each time. I saw glimmers of hope teaching a child the Zercher squat, and a few picked up the pattern when we lifted the Kettlebells off the floor, but nothing worked.

The answer was somewhere between a Zercher and a potato squat. It came to me when I was resting between the swings with the weight held in front of me like I was holding the Holy Grail. I squatted from there, pushed my knees with my elbows, and behold, the goblet squatted.

You could say he chose wisely. Here we’ll dive into what a tumbler squat is, how to do it, common mistakes, and some variations to spice things up.


This exercise is a variation of an anterior-loaded squat performed with a kettlebell or barbell. Holding the weight forward encourages you to stand up straight, contract your upper back, and pump out. The weight is a counterbalance that encourages you to sit between your legs and not on your knees.


  1. Place your feet in your preferred position and grab a dumbbell or kettlebell under your chin with your elbows at your sides.
  2. Engage your anterior core and raise your chest and shoulders down.
  3. Then grab the floor with your feet and squat down between your knees, keeping your chest up.
  4. Once you’ve reached your preferred depth, push your feet through the floor, squat, and finish by squeezing your glutes into the lockout.
  5. Reset and repeat for desired reactions.


The goblet squat is a primarily lower body movement, but since you are holding the weight forward in your hands, there is some upper body action as well. Here are the main muscles trained by the holy grail of squats.

Lower body

  • Quadriceps: Most squats are knee-heavy exercises, and the goblet squat is no exception.
  • Hamstrings: Minimally involved in almost all squat variations, but the hamstrings provide eccentric force when descending into a squat and help the glutes a bit with hip extension.
  • Glutes: The glutes work overtime to extend the hips as you squat from hole to lock position
  • Core: Goblet squat is an anterior load variation of the squat that requires you to maintain an upright torso and an engaged anterior core.

Upper body

  • Upper back: Because you’re holding the weight in front of you, your upper back contracts isometrically to keep the weight in place and for good posture during the set.
  • Forearms and Biceps: If you’re holding a kettlebell, good grip strength is needed to hold the kettlebell in the goblet position.


The beauty of the goblet squat is that almost anyone can do it, and after some guidance from a YouTube video and this article, most lifters are good to go. Here are some other benefits of incorporating exercise into your routine.

  • Suitable for beginners: The front loaded position of the goblet squat acts as a counterbalance allowing you to squat between your knees and not on your knees for better squat form. If you squat on your knees, you’ll get instant feedback and a full face off the ground. The goblet squat is a great gateway exercise to more complex squat exercises like the barbell squat.
  • Increases your postural strength: By the nature of the forward loaded position, you need to keep your upper back engaged, an upright posture, and an extended thoracic spine. If you can’t do any of these things, the weight will fall off your hands, which could be embarrassing.
  • Anterior core strength: You’ll feel the anterior core magic when you settle down with the goblet squat. By holding the weight in the goblet position, your core will engage to stop collapsing forward. Next, you need to be prepared and avoid overextending the spine when lowering into a squat and staying balanced throughout the exercise.
  • Respectful of the lower back: The barbell back squat is great, but there is a compressive load on the spine, and if your lower back is angry, it’s off limits. Step into the goblet squat. Because you are not using as much load and anterior weight position, the lower back has less compressive load. For many lifters, the goblet squat allows you to train the squat motion without lower back discomfort.


This move is almost the perfect squat teaching exercise and a great exercise for adding muscle-building bulk to your quads and glutes. Let’s face it, this is a tough exercise to do wrong, but there are a few things to watch out for to get the most out of this exercise.

  • Go to light: When you’re a beginner lifter, it’s okay to go light to master form and technique, but if you’re an intermediate to advanced lifter, there’s no excuse. The goblet squat is one of those exercises where a heavier load can improve form because the weight acts as a counterweight. There’s no need to pump stupid reps here; load up and be more intentional between the 8-15 rep range.
  • Using partial range of motion: Squat depth is tricky. The goblet squat with its front load is more depth-friendly than other squat variations, so there’s no need to do a half rep. Getting your elbows inside your knees at the bottom of your squat is doable. Otherwise, work on hip mobility.
  • This is not a hello: The key with the goblet squat is anterior loading and the ability to keep a straighter torso when squatting. You should avoid deliberately tilting your torso forward or pulling your hips back like a hinge. Squatting between your knees and keeping your upper back engaged will help here.


The goblet squat is not a great exercise for strength because the dumbbells only get so big, and when they do, it’s not easy to get into position and hold. It IMO takes away from the effectiveness of this exercise. Better to program the goblet squat for muscle and reinforce better technique.

  • For beginners and for better technique: More reps (not fewer) are better when you’re learning a new move or want to improve your squat form. Two to four sets of eight to 12 reps work well here.
  • For the muscles: Difficult weight, time under tension, and volume are key factors when your goal is to build muscle. Three to four sets of 10 to 15 reps with a moderate to heavy dumbbell or kettlebell are needed here.


Variety is the spice of life, and it’s no different with the goblet squat. Doing the same thing a little differently will keep you engaged and stay on the winning train longer.

#Goblet #Squat

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