Goblet Squat

How To Do A Goblet Squat
By Alli McKeeFebruary 19, 2016

Goblet Squat Exercise

The goblet squat is one of many great kettlebell exercises you can use to strengthen the lower body and anterior core. This exercise is a perfect option if you are learning how to master the squatting movement and gain the requisite levels of strength and stability before you move on to the more advanced squatting variations and with more resistance.

Equipment needed:

Although a kettlebell is used for this exercise, if you do not have access to a kettlebell, you can use a dumbbell. Just make sure that your upper body and torso remain in the same position as if you were holding a kettlebell.

Ability level:


The goblet squat with a kettlebell might be too advanced for women who are just beginning to strength train. This might be due to lack of strength, stability or mobility. A few great exercise options for beginners could include goblet box squats (squatting onto a box/bench and standing up), or bodyweight squats (regular tempo, pause squats, or negatives).

Women who have mastered the bodyweight squat and are ready for more resistance should place the goblet squat at the beginning of their workout. Beginners should complete 1-3 sets of 8-15 repetitions with light weight.


The kb goblet squat is a great option for the intermediate lifter, and is pretty versatile as it can be placed at the beginning of the workout to prepare the body for more advanced exercise variations, or it can be performed after the more advanced movements have been completed. You can perform this exercise on its own, you can pair it with another exercise as part of a superset, or can you even make it part of a metabolic conditioning circuit. Intermediate lifters might perform 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps of the goblet squat.


Women who are comfortable with the goblet squat exercise can choose to perform negative goblet squats where the lowering phase to each position is increased to 3-5 seconds. This trains the muscles eccentrically. You can also perform the pause squat variation, pausing for 3-5 seconds in each position, or you can combine the negative and pause squat variations. You can also increase the weight/resistance for multiple sets (2-4+) of fewer repetitions (3-6).

More advanced lifters may also opt to perform other goblet style squat variations such as an offset goblet squat by holding the kettlebell with one hand in the rack position. It is best to drop the weight by about 30-40% when transitioning to an offset goblet squat to ensure that you can complete your desired sets and reps with good form. Another option for more advanced lifters is to perform a double kettlebell rack squat. With this option, you will hold one kettlebell in each hand in the rack position, which allows you to increase the resistance quite a bit.

Benefits of Goblet Squats:

There are many goblet squat benefits. The goblet squat is very beneficial for someone who might not currently have the requisite levels of technical proficiency, strength, stability and mobility to perform barbell front squats. Like the barbell front squat, this exercise also trains the body to remain in a more upright position, and challenges the core muscles, particularly the anterior core. This exercise can be used in many different kettlebell workouts for women. How a woman chooses to use the goblet squat is highly dependent on her overall technical ability and experience, how much weight is being used, the set/rep scheme used, where the exercise falls in the workout, what it’s paired with, and what the rest periods are. In general, the goblet squat can be used to do any or all of the following:

  • increasing lower body strength, primarily in the quads, glutes, and hamstrings
  • increasing upper body strength, especially if a heavier kettlebell is being held
  • increasing core strength, particularly the anterior core
  • building muscle
  • fat loss (if your diet and exercise routines are conducive to fat loss)
  • increasing conditioning (if used as part of conditioning circuits)
  • transitioning from an unloaded squat to a loaded squat

How to perform a Goblet Squat: 

  • Clean the kettlebell up to the starting position. If you are not comfortable doing this, get somebody to pass it to you.
  • Grab the kettlebell by the “horns” making sure that you keep the kettlebell right against your chest. To do this, squeeze your upper arms into your sides. You can even pretend that you are crushing something in your armpits. Allowing the kettlebell to separate from your body will cause the muscles in your lower back to do unnecessary work.
  • Before you descend into the squat, take a deep breath in (360 degrees of air around the spine), brace your core (imagine that you’re about to block a soccer ball with your stomach), and lightly tuck your rib cage down towards your hips (close the space in your midsection).
  • While maintaining muscular control and the same tempo the entire time, simultaneously move at the knees and hips, and aim to sit between your heels.
  • As you stand up and lock out at the top position, squeeze your glutes, quads and hamstrings, brace your core, and keep your rib cage down (close the space in your midsection) to prevent your lower back from arching and help you maintain proper alignment.
  • Keep your torso relatively upright and your chest up.
  • Make sure that your weight remains in the mid-back portion of your feet but keep your toes down, particularly your big and baby toes. This will improve your stability and strength, and ability to perform the exercise.
  • Maintain a neutral spine.
  • Do not allow your knees to collapse in or fall outside of your feet.
  • Squat only as deep as proper form allows you to go. Do not sacrifice form for depth.
  • Reset before each rep.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.
  • Make your first set your warm-up set and just use bodyweight or a lighter kettlebell.
  • Only add more weight when you have good goblet squat form. Your number one priority should be good form, not making yourself tired.
  • Please refer to the goblet squat video

Video Transcription: 

A kettlebell goblet squat is a fantastic exercise to transition from squatting without weight to squatting with a barbell.  A kettlebell goblet squat is a little bit more difficult than a bodyweight squat but it's going to be considerably less difficult than a barbell front squat or back squat. In order to do the kettlebell goblet squat, you are going to grab a kettlebell and set it up right in between your feet.  You are going to grab it by the handles and kind of clean it up, so you are going to pop your hips, and you are going to grab it right under the horns. You are going to hold it at your chest.  Women, really be careful not to keep it too close to your chest, to not actually having it touch your chest, you want it about a ½ inch away. You are going to keep your elbows nice and tucked, lats are going to be tight, you are going to do the exact same thing as you did with your bodyweight squat.  

You are going to breathe in, blow your air out, get your rib cage down, and breathe in again to brace your core, because we want that intra-abdominal pressure when we are squatting with weight and that's going to help stabilize your spine. You are going to drive your knees out and you are going to drop down right  between your hips while you sit back a little bit. I am going to demonstrate. Push back into my hips to grab the horns of the kettlebell, pick it up, grab it right underneath the horns, keep it right next to my chest, set my feet into position, get my core tight, drive the knees up and sit back.  Come up keeping the spine and the head nice and neutral the whole time. I will show you what that looks like from the side.

Again as I mentioned with  the bodyweight squat it's really important to only go as deep as you can keep your spine neutral and you will see that from the side: I drop down to my hips and stop before my butt tucks under.  That's a kettlebell goblet squat.





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About the author:  Alli McKee

Alli is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. She's contributed to and modeled for a number of major publications including Oxygen magazine and the New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged. You can find out more about Alli on her personal blog at www.allimckee.com.

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