Secrets to Mastering the Squat: Part 2

You don’t know squat!

OK, OK so that’s probably not true.  But after reading Part 1 of this article, you may have felt like you didn’t know anything about how to squat properly, and that’s OK!  We all had to learn at some point.

Now if you read that article and you were already familiar with those concepts then congrats!  You’re totally ahead of the game!

Part 1 of this article discussed how to teach a beginner to squat using a box or a bench, and then progressing them to a body weight free squat.

Part 2 discusses the next progression which is a goblet squat.


Goblet squat — front view and side view


The goblet squat was invented by Dan John and is a fantastic exercise.  They allow you to lightly load a squat and build a solid pattern before putting a bar on your back.  Most women aren’t ready to go straight from a body weight squat to a bar on their back, so a goblet squat is the perfect transition.  Also, holding the weight in front of you, forces you to stiffen your core more, which helps you control your pelvis.

Here’s how to goblet squat properly:


1. Pick up the kettlebell properly!   Make sure you push back into your hips to pick up the kettlebell instead of rounding your back.  This reinforces a good hip hinge pattern and is safer for your lumbar spine.

2. Keep your elbows down!  Keeping your elbows down is much easier on your shoulders, and allows you to hold heavier weight than if your elbows are flared out.

3. Pull your shoulder blades back/squeeze your upper back together!  Anyone who has had weight on their back can attest to the fact that keeping your upper back tight is a must!  Not only does it keep your whole body tighter, but it will teach you to create a little “shelf” on your back for when you do start squatting with a bar.

4. Keep your ribs down!  As discussed in the video, keeping your ribs down will help you maintain a solid neutral spine position, and it will make the next cue much easier.

5. Brace your core!  Try to create pressure in your core circumferentially, or all the way around – front, back, and sides.  This will help protect your spine, and control your pelvis.

6. Tuck your chin slightly!  Many lifters cue, “head back,” which works for powerlifters wanting to lift maximal weight.  But when longevity and health are your goal, squatting with a more neutral head is safer, and actually allows you to sit back into your hips more easily.

7. Eyes up!  Just because your chin is tucked, doesn’t mean you can’t look up.  Looking down at the ground can encourage you to drop your chest and fall forward.  Keeping your eyes up can help you “drive out of the hole” on your squat.


Once you have mastered the goblet squat, you have a couple of options for progressing:

1. Offset goblet squat – Hold a kettlebell in one hand when squatting, for more of a challenge!  Just make sure you drop the load around 30-40% when you first attempt these to ensure that you can maintain proper form!

2. Double goblet squat – This variation is exactly like the variation above, except you are holding two kettlebells instead of one, so you can use more weight.  You can also “mis-load” the weight and hold two different weights in your hands.

3. Band goblet squats – Put a mini-band on right under your knees to remind you to drive your knees out as you squat.


Alright guys – now that you know how to goblet squat, you have no excuses!!  Get after it!  And if you want to see more about squatting with a bar on your back, check out Part 3 of this series.

Do you goblet squat?  Do you do any variations not mentioned above?  Did you learn anything from this article?  We’d love your comments below!

About the Author: Molly Galbraith

Molly hails from Lexington, Kentucky where she is co-founder of J&M Strength and Conditioning. She has competed in both figure and raw powerlifting. You can find out more about her on her personal blog at http://mollygalbraith.com/.

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