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 series, you may have felt like there were things you didn’t about how to squat properly, and that’s OK!  We’ve all had to learn at some point.


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


Part 1 discussed how a beginner can squat using a box or a bench, and then progress to a body weight free squat.


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


Goblet Squat - cropped for FB


The goblet squat is a fantastic exercise.  It allows 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:



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 forward.

Just because your chin is tucked, doesn’t mean you can’t look forward.  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.

This is a cue that I personally struggle with because I have more of a forward lean in my squat than most due to my long femurs and short torso, so I often find myself looking down.  As with any of these squat cues, it just takes practice.


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 kettlebell rack 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.


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? What did you learn from this article? We’d love to read your comments below!



About the Author: Molly Galbraith

Molly is a certified strength and conditioning specialist from Lexington, Kentucky, and co-founder and owner of Girls Gone Strong. She recently stepped away as co-owner of her gym to focus more on GGS and her own website and you can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

  • And….. now I want to squat today! Thanks for this series! Cleaning up my form a bit with your notes, just to ensure I’m doing the best I possibly can. 🙂

  • I’ve been doing the back squat for a couple months but recently I seem to be having trouble. The weight doesn’t seem too much (in fact it honestly doesn’t seem like it is working me hard enough), but rather the issue is not being able to power up after a couple reps. I’m beginning to suspect this is due to weak glute and hamstring strength as compared to my quads that makes it harder for me to drive out of the hole. Does that seem reasonable? Do you have recommendations on exercises I can do help in the meantime?

  • ShandaB

    Awesome article. I tried sliding my hands down my front thighs like you suggested on Part 1, it was crazy how much difference I noticed in my form. Being doing them that way ever since. Thank you so much for the great Info!