The goblet squat is a core training staple — but are you sure you’re even doing the exercise correctly?
For this basic gym necessity, you shouldn’t settle for anything other than perfect form—especially because it’s such a simple, essential movement that can help you progress to other exercises when done properly. Let Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. and associate fitness editor Brett Williams guide you through the move’s subtleties, saving you from the bad habits that are keeping you from unlocking your fitness potential.
Before you grab your kettlebell (or dumbbell or med ball) and start squatting, take note that it’s extremely important to pay attention to the subtleties of the movement here. You’re not just dropping your butt to the floor or lowering yourself slightly—depth and positioning are essential.
Eb says: The average person’s tendency when doing any kind of squat is to drop their chest as they lower their torso toward the ground, which serves as a way to get around lower-body mobility issues. The beauty of the goblet squat: Having that big weight at your chest prevents you from doing that. If you drop your chest and bend at the waist as you’re squatting, you’ll really struggle to finish this squat, more than you would if you drop your chest while doing a traditional barbell back squat.
So really think about keeping your chest up the entire way. That means actively squeezing your lower back muscles and your ab muscles. Focus on squeezing your back muscles, too; that’ll prevent you from rounding any part of your back and turn this into a great posterior chain movement.
Eb says: Partly to help you keep your chest up, think about sitting back as you do this squat. Pretend you have a chair behind you and you’re simply trying to sit down, slowly and with control. Then aim to lower your torso until your thighs are about parallel to the ground.
Squeeze Those Glutes
Eb says: The biggest mistake you can make when you do the goblet squat (or any squat, really): Letting your knees cave inwards. Imagine you have somebody pressing against your outer knees, and you need to press back. Think about spreading your knees as wide as possible as you squat down, and when you power up from the squat, do the same thing.
You create this drive by squeezing your glutes, which naturally helps open up your knees. This will keep your knees safe and healthy as you squat. And by actively focusing on your glutes, you’ll also add weight and power to your squat, too.
Take Your Time
Eb says: You’ve seen plenty of people squatting fast, and when you’re moving a ton of weight in a back squat or front squat, you sometimes need all the acceleration possible. The goblet squat is a great opportunity to take your time and really feel each portion of your mechanics, so play with pauses and slow tempos; think of taking 2 seconds to lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground, pausing for one second, then taking 1 to 2 seconds to rise up from the squat.
This exercise is your best chance to learn and perfect clean squat mechanics, because the weight forces your body to move with responsibility. Take advantage of the opportunity to push yourself to a better squat.
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