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Secrets to Mastering the Squat: Part 2

designyourself-mollygobletsquat-350x375You don’t know squat!

OK, OK, so that’s probably not true, but after reading the first article in 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 it and you were already familiar with those concepts, congrats!  You’re totally ahead of the game! In that article we discussed how a beginner can squat using a box or a bench, and then progress to a body weight free squat. In this article we discuss the next progression, which is a goblet squat.

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 to 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.

 

 

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About The Author: Molly Galbraith

Molly Galbraith, CSCS is co-founder and owner of Girls Gone Strong, a global movement that aims to empower women to embrace all that’s possible for their lives and for their bodies through body-positive, evidence-based, nutrition, training, and self-care information. She is also the author of The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training.

As a former figure competitor who dabbled in powerlifting, Molly understands the more extreme side of training and nutrition, and after years of personal struggle with her own body image and self-worth, Molly is committed to helping women embrace their bodies and fall in love with themselves, and teaching other coaches and trainers how to better understand, connect with, and serve their women clients. Learn more about Molly on her website and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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