Anyone who’s engaged in a resistance training program has most likely heard about the multitude of benefits obtained from squatting. The squat is an amazing exercise capable of building copious amounts of muscle mass, increasing total body strength, burning body fat, maintaining and enhancing mobility/stability/flexibility, and improving just about every aspect of our physicality.
Basically, doing a set of squats is like taking a sip from the Holy Grail – You remember what that did for Sean Connery in The Last Crusade, right?
However, despite the cornucopia of benefits and super powers squatting bestows upon us, there is a time and a place for everything. Barbell squatting may not be the best choice for everyone, even if it is the most badass. With this in mind I would like to direct your attention to an incredible exercise for both beginners and advanced trainees – The Goblet Squat.
The goblet squat is an exercise created by Lifting and Throwing coach, Dan John. This squat variation is typically much easier to perform as a beginner, but can be made challenging enough for advanced trainees. The squat is a complex movement pattern that blends strength, stability, mobility, and flexibility together. Despite the many benefits of performing this exercise, the reality for most people is that if they don’t “groove the movement pattern” regularly, they lose the ability to perform it correctly over time. This is unfortunate, because squatting is awesome. It is for this reason that the goblet squat can and should be performed often, even daily if possible.
Performing the goblet squat is fairly simple compared to its counterparts (Back Squats and Front Squats). The way the weight is positioned and loaded through the body makes it a more comfortable exercise for beginners. It can be performed as a warm-up exercise and as an alternative to traditional squats. Of course, you typically won’t be able to use the heavy loads that you would in a traditional barbell squat, but that doesn’t make it any less challenging or beneficial (split squats anyone?).
Bret Contreras is a certified strength and conditioning specialist who wrote a great article detailing the goblet squat; which can be found here. I would highly recommend you check out his website and blog if you haven’t already. Seriously, do it now…
If you are a beginner, the goblet squat should be a staple in your exercise program. One of the biggest mistakes a new lifter can make is to jump right into barbell squatting (Back Squats or Front Squats) too soon.
If you don’t currently possess:
– Ankle mobility (dorsiflexion)
– Hip mobility
– Strong Spinal erectors and thoracic extensors
– Core strength/stability
– Strong/responsive Glute function
– Strong Quadriceps
Then you have no business performing a barbell loaded squat yet.
Let’s take a closer look at why each of the above attributes is vital for squatting:
– The ankles must be mobile to allow the knees to travel forward
– Mobile hips to allow for adequate depth and hip flexion
– Strong spinal erectors and thoracic extensors to maintain a neutral spine, keep the chest up, and to maintain lumbopelvic stability throughout the movement
– Core strength/stability to keep from folding forward (excessive forward lean), maintain neutral spine, and to support the load
– Strong glutes are needed to keep the knees tracking properly, the eccentric load stable, and to extend the hips as you come back up
– The quadriceps have to be strong to aid in the ascent and to help maintain an upright posture
If you’re lacking in these areas, you should address those issues first, and then try the goblet squat. All too often I see people performing a barbell squat that have no business performing the movement yet. It’s well worth it to put in the time developing the movement pattern correctly, rather than to jump right into a squat rack and getting under a barbell. Don’t get me wrong, the absolute last thing I want is to shy people away from working with a barbell, but if you’re new to lifting and your squat pattern is poor – you need to start with the basics. If you’re a trainer, simply cuing the bejesus out of your client may actually do more harm than good. Especially if they’re new to lifting in general. You need to take the time to address the deficiencies in the movement pattern first.
When performing the goblet squat, focus on the following:
– Keep the weight (Dumbbell or Kettlebell) close to the chest
– Feet should be positioned just outside of shoulder width apart
– Feet can be turned out up to 30 degrees
– Keep the chest up and core musculature braced
– Sit down into the squat position
– Keep your elbows in
– Keep knees out, tracking over the feet
– Push through your heels
Doing goblet squats regularly will help you improve and maintain the mobility, flexibility, stability and strength required to perform them. Depending on your goals and limitations, goblet squats may be an introduction to barbell squatting. Either way, whether you reach the promised land of the power rack or not, goblet squats should always be a tool in your training regiment. Now excuse me as I majestically ride off into the sunset wearing my fedora.
Pick up something heavy