Invented by the one and only Dan John and named after the position in which the weight is held, the goblet squat is one of the most idiot-proof ways to learn and reinforce the basic squatting movement pattern. I've used this exercise successfully with clients ranging from 8-to-50-years old. Unlike most exercises, this one is more difficult to execute incorrectly, which is why I like it so much.
The setup of the goblet squat, from the foot position to the way the weight is cradled against the chest, essentially sets you up for solid form from the get-go. I recommend this to everyone: the beginning strength trainee who is unfamiliar with what a proper squat feels like, the fitness buff who wants to squat with the best possible form, and the individual looking to stay healthy and move well. It's especially great for those with subpar ankle mobility, poor wrist flexibility, tight lats, injured shoulders, and/or long legs. I think it would be fair to say that most of us fall into at least one of those categories.
The few coaching cues involved in the goblet squat more than suffice to get the job done:
- Hold a weight against the chest. If you have a kettlebell, grab it by the horns; with a dumbbell, hold one of the heads up vertically between your palms.
- Position your feet so your stance is a smidge outside shoulder-width, with your toes pointed slightly out. If you're taller, you may need to widen the stance a little more.
- Drop it like it's hot. That is, sit back and down between the knees, keeping your chest up the whole time. Make sure you're not falling forward or rounding your back.
- Go down as low as you can while keeping your feet flat on the floor. If your heels come up, your stance is still too narrow.
- At the bottom, brush your elbows down the inside of your legs and push your knees out. This is what makes the goblet squat so special, so let me say that again: knees out, knees out, knees out.
- Shoot back up and stand tall at the top.