This squat variation is seriously underrated.
Breakfast for dinner. Outdoor showers. When the gauc *doesn’t* cost extra. These are some of life's underrated pleasures. Another to add to the list? Goblet squats.
Goblet squats are air squats that are performed with the addition of a dumbbell, kettlebell, medicine ball, or really anything else that’s heavy and compact, like a boulder, Keurig, lamp, massive crate of cheese puffs—hey, get creative! “Goblet squats require you to hold the weight in front of your chest, usually so that your hands are positioned as if you’re holding onto a goblet,” explains certified strength and conditioning specialist Shane Savoy, trainer at New York Health & Racquet Club.
But goblet squats are a little less about the fire and more about the burn. That whole-body burn. “Goblet squats are a full-body movement. They work your quads, calves, glutes, and entire core, and your arms and grip strength because you’re holding onto the weight,” says Savoy.
“They’re an awesome choice for people looking to tone their cores and increase their glute strength at the same time,” he adds. So, if you’re trying to save time in the gym while tightening your abs and lifting your bum, this move is your new go-to.
How to do goblet squats
Hold a weight at your chest using both of your hands and stand with your feet about hip-width apart. If you’re using a kettlebell, Savoy says you can hold it with the handle facing up or down.
When you’re ready to begin, brace your core, then drop your butt back and down to lower into a squat while keeping your chest up. As you squat, sit back into your heels without shifting your weight forward onto the balls of your feet. Try to get as deep into the squat as possible to maximize glute activation. Then, driving through your heels, come back up to standing and give your glutes a squeeze at the top. That's one rep.
Savoy recommends warming up with two sets of 10 to 12 reps at a very low weight, and then doing three working sets of eight to 12 reps at a moderate (i.e. challenging, but manageable) weight. For example, if you want to use a 35-pound kettlebell in the workout, warm up with a 12- or 16-pound kettlebell first.
Want to make it harder? Either increase the weight or slow down your descent. Try a tempo of four seconds on the way down and one second on the way back up, followed by a one to two second pause at the top before your next rep.
“Slowing down the eccentric, or downward, portion of the squat increases the amount of time under tension, which increases calorie burn and muscle activation,” says Savoy.
If you need to make it a bit easier, either decrease the weight or find something to hang onto, like a column, TRX band, handle, or door frame.
“Holding onto something while you squat down will help counterbalance your weight, so it will keep you from falling over. This will help you get used to the squat motion while holding onto something,” says Savoy.
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The benefits of goblet squats
Once you get the hang of the goblet quat, you'll reap these four gains:
A booty pump. “The placement of the weight in the squat allows most people to sink lower into the squat, which means more glute activation than a typical squat,” says Savoy. One study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that when combined with other kettlebell movements, goblet squats helped athletes increase their overall strength and power over the course of six weeks.
A stronger core. “In a front squat, the load is shifted forward, which means the person doing it must maintain a strong and stable back and core to protect the spine,” says Savoy. Basically, the core must work double-time, he says.
Increased core strength means safer daily movements, heavier lifts, a more powerful trunk for your entire body, and a tighter, stronger mid-section. While having a toned or sculpted stomach also comes down to things like body fat percentage, genetics, eating habits, and where you are in your menstrual cycle, goblet squats can help build those six-pack muscles.
Increased mobility. “Because you’re able to sit lower into the squat, when done correctly, the goblet squat will help improve your hip and ankle mobility—two joints that tend to get stiff and tight from too much sitting,” says Savoy. “If your ankles are incredibly immobile, consider raising your heels up ½ to 2 inches with weight plates so that you can squat [more] comfortably. Then over time, reduce the height of the weight plates until you can do them on the flat ground,” he adds.
Fewer injuries. Sure, the exercise sounds otherworldly, but the goblet squat is actually a very natural position for most women because it’s the same position as picking up a heavy object, like a child or a box, which means it’s widely accessible. As an exercise, the goblet squat gives you the opportunity to perfect your form on this everyday position—which helps protect injury in day to day activities, says Savoy.