Goblet Squats 101: How To, Benefits, Common Mistakes, and Variations

19 min read

Dumbbell and kettlebell Goblet Squats exercises are excellent for building lower body strength that should have a place in every fitness enthusiast’s routine. From increasing leg strength and core stability to improving flexibility and posture, goblet squats are a splendid supplement to any training routine.

Continue reading in this exercise guide, we will go into detail about the mechanics, benefits, variations, and suggested modifications for perfecting this exercise, helping you to include it into your workout schedule for a bigger, stronger body.


Primary muscles worked:Quadriceps (Front Thigh Muscles), Gluteus Maximus (Buttocks), Hamstrings (Back Thigh Muscles), Core (Abdominals and Lower Back)
Secondary muscles worked:Calves (Gastrocnemius and Soleus), Upper Back (Trapezius, Rhomboids, and Rear Deltoids), Shoulders (Deltoids), Forearms and Grip (Brachioradialis and Hand Muscles), Adductors (Inner Thigh Muscles), Erector Spinae (Lower Back)
Type:Compound exercises
Level:Beginner to advanced
Equipment needed:Dumbbell or Kettlebell

What is Goblet Squats?

Goblet squats are a compound strength-training exercise that combines features of the traditional squat with weight resistance. In this exercise, a single dumbbell or kettlebell is held vertically close to the chest, with the hands cradling the weight beneath the chin, resembling the posture of holding a goblet or chalice.

As you perform the goblet squat, the weight stays elevated close to your chest, resembling the way you’d hold a chalice. As you move through the squatting motion, you’ll start to sense that wonderful, invigorating sensation in your lower body muscles. Those hardworking quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes will steadily come to life, embracing the challenge of this exercise.

At the same time, your core, upper back, and shoulders come into play, joining the effort to make these muscles work together. Imagine it as a beautifully orchestrated performance, where different muscle groups come together in perfect harmony to execute this exercise flawlessly. Goblet squats are acknowledged for their adjustability to various athletic abilities as well as their capacity to develop lower-body strength, mobility, and overall endurance.

Mastering the goblet squat is like finding that sweet spot where your body moves gracefully and efficiently. It’s truly a gem in the realm of fitness, offering benefits beyond just building physical strength – it’s like a helping hand for your body’s recovery journey. It’s like a full-body embrace for your lower half, working those leg muscles, and at the same time, it’s like a posture wizard, helping you stand tall and proud.

What is more, goblet squats introduce an element of flexibility and fortify your core strength, which can greatly elevate your fitness journey. This characteristic renders it an excellent choice, especially for individuals who are dedicated to maximizing the benefits of their lower-body workouts. Whether you’re someone passionate about fitness or an athlete striving for a comprehensive and highly efficient training regimen, goblet squats can be an integral part of your fitness routine.

What are the benefits of Goblet Squats?

  • Increased Range of Motion and More Glute Activation: Goblet squats require you to squat deeper, promoting better hip mobility and flexibility. The goblet squat’s front-loaded position encourages you to squat lower, engaging the glutes more effectively for improved muscle activation and range of motion. 1
  • Improves Jumping Performance: Goblet squats strengthen the lower body, enhancing explosiveness in the legs. Goblet squats, by targeting the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes 2, add to the leg strength necessary for explosive motions like leaping, so improving your jumping performance. 3
  • Increased Core Activation: Holding the weight close to your chest challenges your core muscles throughout the exercise. To stabilize the weight, your core must engage, strengthening the abdominal muscles and improving overall core stability and strength.
  • Reduced Risk of Injury: Proper goblet squat form emphasizes joint-friendly mechanics and supports good posture. Goblet squats encourage a neutral spine, proper hip and knee alignment, and core engagement, reducing the risk of injury to the back, knees, or hips.
  • Flexible Equipment Options: Goblet squats can be performed with various types of equipment, including dumbbells, kettlebells, or even a sandbag. Because of this flexibility, you may select equipment based on availability and fitness level, making goblet squats accessible to a wide range of people.
  • Prevents Knee Pain from squats: Goblet squats promote proper knee alignment and balance, reducing strain on the knees. The exercise supports monitoring the knees in line with the toes, which prevents the knees from folding inward and causing knee discomfort during typical squats. 4
  • Prevents Exercise Injury: By emphasizing good form and alignment, goblet squats reduce the risk of injury associated with improper exercise technique. Goblet squats enforce fundamental movement patterns and posture, reducing the chances of overuse injuries or acute injuries often seen with exercises performed with poor form. 5

Goblet Squats Practice Guide

Attending to proper alignment and executing these squats correctly ensures that you engage the appropriate muscles, safeguard your joints, and execute the exercise efficiently. Correct form guarantees effective and safe engagement of the targeted muscle groups. Precise alignment guarantees optimal engagement of the target muscles, which for goblet squats include the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and core. Misalignment may lead to inefficient muscle activation or even strain on the wrong muscle groups.

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When you workout, proper setup lowers tension on joints such as the knees and lower back. Misalignment can place undue strain on these joints, causing pain or injury in the long run. So, when you use proper technique it aids you to complete the exercise more effectively, allowing you to lift heavy weights while building strength and muscle mass.

Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart, and your knees are aligned with your toes. This posture evenly distributes the stress, lowering the risk of knee discomfort or damage. Maintaining a neutral spine involves keeping your chest elevated and your lower back slightly arched. Avoid rounding your back, as this can lead to discomfort in the lower back.

A strong core stabilizes your spine and helps you maintain appropriate posture during the squat. It also helps with balance and control. If your flexibility permits, guiding your elbows between your knees helps sustain an upright torso and activates the core more effectively.

Keeping your heels firmly planted on the ground throughout the movement ensures that you exert force through your entire foot, maximizing stability and force generation. Resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets allows your muscles to recover partially. This helps to preserve the quality of your squats and lowers the possibility of form degeneration due to tiredness.

Adequate rest empowers you to execute each set with the correct technique and intensity. Without rest, you may compromise your form due to fatigue, elevating the risk of injury. Incorporating rest intervals between sets allows you to keep the necessary energy and strength to complete each set successfully. This contributes to improved workout performance and, provides ultimately, results.

Step-by-step Dumbbell Goblet Squats

Goblet Squats 101: How To, Benefits, Common Mistakes, and Variations - SharpMuscle
Image: Garrett M. Phillips/Instagram

Always prioritize your form and adjust the weight as necessary to match your strength level and goals.


  • Begin with a lightweight dumbbell to learn the movement effectively. As you progress, you can increase the weight.
  • Hold the dumbbell vertically, grasping it firmly with both hands beneath the top of the weight. Keep the dumbbell close to your chest throughout the entire exercise.
  • Ensure your knees are in line with your toes. This alignment is crucial for proper squatting form and to protect your knees.


  1. Inhale deeply, and then begin the squat by sitting back in your hips. Maintain a tight core and an upright torso throughout the movement.
  2. If your flexibility allows, aim to track your elbows between your knees as you descend into the squat. Only do this if it doesn’t compromise your form.
  3. Push through your heels to rise back to the starting position. Keep your feet flat on the floor and avoid lifting your heels during the movement.
  4. Start with 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions. Choose a weight that challenges you, but one that still allows you to perform each repetition with proper form. It should be difficult to complete one more rep with good form.
  5. Allow yourself 30 to 60 seconds of rest between each set to recover and maintain your strength and form.

Step-by-step Kettlebell Goblet Squats

How To Do Goblet Squats - SharpMuscle
Image: Patrick Flynn/Instagram


  • Begin with a lightweight kettlebell to familiarize yourself with the exercise. You can increase the weight as you become more comfortable.
  • Hold the kettlebell with both hands, either at the bottom of the bell or on each side of the handle. Keep the kettlebell close to your chest throughout the entire movement.
  • Make sure your knees align with your toes, maintaining proper form and protecting your knees.


  1. Inhale deeply, then initiate the squat by sitting back in your hips. Keep your core engaged and maintain an upright torso.
  2. If your flexibility allows, aim to guide your elbows between your knees as you squat down. Do this only if you can maintain proper form.
  3. Push through your heels to rise back up to the starting position. Keep your feet flat on the floor and avoid lifting your heels during the movement.
  4. Begin with 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions. Choose a weight that challenges you while allowing proper form. It should be challenging enough that you can’t perform one more rep with proper form.
  5. Take 30 to 60 seconds of rest between each set to recover and maintain your strength and form.

Common mistakes in Dumbbell Goblet Squats and Kettlebell Goblet Squats

Following are the common mistakes and actively work to correct them, so you can perform both dumbbell and kettlebell goblet squats with better form and reduce the risk of injury while maximizing the benefits of the exercises.

Common Mistakes in Dumbbell Goblet Squat

1. Losing Core Engagement

Some people forget to engage their core muscles, causing their lower back to arch and increasing the risk of injury. This happens because they fail to maintain core stability during the squat.

Pro-tip: Before you start the squat, consciously engage your core muscles. Imagine bracing your core as if you were preparing to take a light punch to the stomach. Maintain this engagement throughout the entire squat. Focus on your breath; inhale deeply before squatting, and exhale as you push back up. This can help you naturally engage your core.

2. Leaning Forward

Leaning too far forward during the squat can occur due to a lack of hip flexibility or poor balance. It shifts the weight distribution and increases stress on the lower back.

Pro-tip: To prevent leaning forward, work on improving your hip flexibility and balance over time through dedicated mobility exercises. Additionally, concentrate on maintaining an upright torso during the squat. Place a small weight or block under your heels to provide some elevation. This can help improve balance and reduce the tendency to lean forward while you work on flexibility.

3. Not Going Deep Enough

Inadequate squat depth often results from limited hip mobility. When people don’t squat low enough, they miss out on the full range of motion and the benefits of the exercise.

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Pro-tip: To achieve adequate squat depth, work on hip mobility through stretches and exercises like hip flexor stretches, leg swings, and deep bodyweight squats. Gradually increase your squat depth as your mobility improves. Focus on squatting deeper with each repetition during your warm-up sets, progressively working toward your desired range of motion.

4. Lifting Heels

Lifting the heels off the ground usually happens when individuals try to get their hips lower without proper flexibility. This can lead to an unstable base and poor squat mechanics.

Pro-tip: Maintain flat feet throughout the movement. Avoid lifting your heels by shifting your weight to the balls of your feet, as this can lead to instability. If you struggle to keep your heels down, work on ankle mobility through exercises like calf stretches and ankle circles. You can also try squatting with your heels slightly elevated by placing small plates under them to help maintain balance while working on flexibility.

Common Mistakes in Kettlebell Goblet Squat

1. Poor Grip

Inadequate grip on the kettlebell handle can lead to it slipping, causing injury. This occurs when individuals don’t securely hold the kettlebell, particularly when they place their hands on each side of the handle.

Pro-tip: To secure a better grip on the kettlebell handle, make sure your hands are positioned firmly and evenly on both sides of the handle. Your fingers should wrap around the handle, and your thumb should be positioned in the same direction as your fingers. Additionally, chalk or grip-enhancing products can help reduce the risk of slipping.

2. Not Keeping Kettlebell Close

Allowing the kettlebell to drift away from the chest can occur due to fatigue or lack of focus. When this happens, it disrupts the balance and stability of the squat.

Pro-tip: Maintain proper kettlebell placement by visualizing that you’re hugging the kettlebell to your chest throughout the entire squat. Keep your elbows pointed down and close to your body. If fatigue is an issue, work on your stamina by gradually increasing the weight and practicing better concentration during the exercise.

3. Overarching Back

Arching the lower back excessively is a mistake that arises from not maintaining proper spinal alignment. It can cause strain and discomfort in the lower back.

Pro-tip: Avoid over-arching your lower back by focusing on maintaining a neutral spine throughout the movement. Engage your core muscles to stabilize your spine. Think about tucking your pelvis slightly under, which will help maintain the natural curve of your lower back. Practicing this form with lighter weights can help reinforce proper spinal alignment.

4. Inconsistent Elbow Placement

Incorrect positioning of the elbows can occur if someone’s flexibility doesn’t allow them to comfortably place their elbows between their knees. This can affect squat depth and form.

Pro-tip: If your flexibility limits you from placing your elbows comfortably between your knees, don’t force it. Instead, focus on other aspects of the squat, such as maintaining proper foot and knee alignment and engaging your core. Over time, as you work on your hip flexibility, you may find it easier to improve your elbow placement. Until then, squat to a depth that feels comfortable while maintaining proper form. Consider incorporating hip mobility exercises into your routine to improve your flexibility over time.

Modifications and variations

With modifications and variations demonstrated here, you may tailor goblet squats to your existing state of strength and goals, giving your workouts more effective, varied, and joyful.

Modifications for Goblet Squats

1. Reduced Weight

Using a lighter dumbbell or kettlebell is suitable for beginners or those recovering from injuries. Simply pick a weight that allows you to do the exercise with appropriate form and without stressing your muscles or joints. This modification decreases your resistance, makes goblet squats easier if you are new to these exercises or in recovery. It is useful for someone who wish to acquire good technique without overworking their muscles or getting injuries.

2. Assisted Squats

The Assisted squats provide you stability for if you are with balance issues or mobility limitations. Hold onto a stable support, such as a wall or a sturdy piece of furniture, while performing goblet squats to assist with balance and confidence. For those who may struggle with balance or have limited mobility, it adds an element of safety. Assisted Squats provides a secure anchor, allowing you to perform the squat with reduced risk of falling or losing balance.

3. Elevated Heels

Elevating your heels can help those with ankle mobility issues perform squats more comfortably. Place small weights or blocks under your heels to create a slight incline, which reduces the demand on ankle flexibility. Ankle mobility limitations can hinder proper squatting form. Elevating the heels helps improve the ankle angle, making it easier for one with restricted ankle mobility to achieve a deeper squat while maintaining good form.

Variations of Goblet Squats

1. Goblet Box Squat

The Goblet Box Squat ensures consistent depth and can be beneficial if you are beginners. Perform goblet squats while squatting onto a sturdy box or bench. It helps you maintain proper form and control. The box or bench serves as a depth guide, ensuring that one reach a consistent squat depth. It’s particularly useful for beginners learning to squat or those who want to maintain precise form.

2. Pulse Squats

Adding pulses at the bottom of the squat increases time under tension, enhancing muscle engagement and endurance. After reaching the bottom of the squat, perform small pulses by moving up and down slightly before returning to the starting position. Pulse squats intensify the exercise by requiring you to hold the most challenging part of the squat (the bottom) for an extended period. It increases muscular endurance and can lead to more strength gains.

3. Sumo Goblet Squat

A wider stance targets the inner thighs and engages the adductor muscles. Widen your stance to a sumo position (feet wider than shoulder-width apart) and perform goblet squats. The wider stance in the sumo squat variation shifts the focus to different leg muscles, primarily targeting the inner thighs (adductors). It adds variety to your leg workout routine.

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4. Single-Leg Goblet Squat

This variation challenges balance and stability and works on leg strength independently. Balance on one leg while performing the goblet squat instead of using both legs. By lifting one foot off the ground, single-leg goblet squats engage the stabilizing muscles in the legs and core to a greater extent. It enhances balance and works each leg independently.

5. Paused Goblet Squat

Pausing at the bottom of the squat improves control and strengthens the muscles at the lowest point. Hold the squat position for 1–2 seconds before returning to the starting position. Pausing at the bottom of the squat adds an isometric contraction, challenging your muscles and improving control. And so this exercise is useful for building strength at the most important portion of the squat.

6. Goblet Squat to Overhead Press

Combining the goblet squat with an overhead press adds an upper body element to the exercise. Perform a shoulder press at the top of the goblet squat, engaging the shoulders and triceps. It works not just the lower body, but also the upper body, including the shoulders and triceps. And it’s an effective variation to include upper-body strength training into your squat program.

Incorporating goblet squats into your workout routine

Incorporating goblet squats into your workout routine can be done at various times depending on your fitness goals and workout plan. Whether you’re looking to build strength, improve mobility, or add variety to your workouts, goblet squats can be a valuable addition to your exercise regimen.

1. Leg Day or Lower Body Workout

Goblet squats are a staple in lower body or leg-focused workouts. You can perform them as a primary compound exercise to target the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. They help build lower body strength and muscle mass, making them an ideal choice for leg-focused training sessions.

Tip: Perform 3–4 sets of 8–12 repetitions to target muscle hypertrophy and strength. Rest for 60–90 seconds between sets to optimize muscle recovery.

2. Full-Body Workouts

Include goblet squats in full-body workout routines to engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Goblet squats work not only the lower body but also the core, upper back, and shoulders, providing a comprehensive full-body workout.

Tip: Incorporate 2–3 sets of 10–15 repetitions to maintain balance within your full-body routine. Rest for 45–60 seconds between sets to maintain intensity.

3. Warm-Up or Mobility Routine

Goblet squats can be used as part of a warm-up or mobility routine before your main workout. They improve hip and ankle mobility, making them an effective way to prepare your body for more intense exercises while reducing the risk of injury.

Tip: Perform 1–2 sets of 5–8 repetitions to gradually prepare your body. Minimal to no rest between these sets to keep the warm-up flowing.

4. Circuit Training

Incorporate goblet squats into circuit training routines. They add an element of strength and muscle endurance to a circuit, helping you burn calories and improve cardiovascular fitness.

Tip: Use 2–3 sets of 12–15 repetitions to maintain endurance and intensity. Keep rest periods short, around 30–45 seconds between exercises in the circuit.

5. Strength and Power Training

Use goblet squats in strength and power-focused workouts. Goblet squats help develop lower body strength, which is essential for explosive movements like jumping and sprinting.

Tip: Aim for 3–5 sets of 5–8 repetitions to build raw strength and power. Allow 2–3 minutes of rest between sets to maximize recovery for heavy lifting.

6. Rehabilitation or Injury Prevention

If you’re recovering from a lower body injury or want to prevent injuries, goblet squats can be included in your rehabilitation or injury prevention program. They can help rebuild leg strength and stability while minimizing the risk of further injury.

Tip: Start with 2–3 sets of 8–10 repetitions with lighter weights to focus on controlled movements. Rest for 60 seconds between sets or as needed for recovery.

7. Active Recovery Days

Incorporate goblet squats on active recovery days. Using lighter weights and focusing on controlled movements can aid in recovery by increasing blood flow to the muscles and maintaining mobility.

Tip: Use 2–3 sets of 10–12 repetitions with lighter weights to maintain mobility without taxing your muscles. Keep rest periods short, around 30–45 seconds between sets, as this is a recovery-focused session.

8. Skill and Technique Improvement

Dedicate specific training sessions to goblet squats to work on your technique and form. Improving your goblet squat form can enhance overall squatting mechanics and help you lift heavier weights safely.

Tip: Perform 3–4 sets of 6–8 repetitions with a strong focus on perfecting your form. Allow for 60–90 seconds of rest between sets to maintain quality in your squats.


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