Fortnightly Note


Goblet Squat

Many people use the goblet squat as a strength exercise. It's better used as a tool for teaching bottom of the squat position and mobility.

Introduction

Learning the proper position for the bottom of a squat can be tricky for many people. This can be for a number of reasons...

  •  Mobility issues may mean they can't achieve the position
  • It can be hard to explain and cue, meaning that trainers can spend a lot of time trying to communicate what they're looking for.
  • Many people have less than optimal proprioceptive sense. Explanations don't always cut it for them.

Enter the goblet squat.

Even though many people view it as a strength exercise when a barbell isn't available, the goblet squat was actually invented by legendary strength coach, Dan John, as way to teach his high school students how to squat with good form.

He told me he wished he'd given it a more outrageous name so that people would look inot why it was called that; he also invented the "Bulgarian Goat Bag Squat", which has nothing to do with Bulgaria, goats or bags, in the same attempt to teach effective squat form.

A Natural Resting Position

First, let's understand that the bottom position of the squat is a natural human resting position, which all of us should be able to attain. As demonstrated in the video, this is not a good position for loading, but is a good position to rest in when sitting isn't an option.

It's also a great position to spend time in to create a bit of space in the knee joint. I recommend that everyone try to accumulate 5 minutes or more per day in this position.

Learning Good Positioning Before Loading

If you're going to externally load a position, in this case the bottom of the squat, you'd better make sure you are able to achieve a strong, stable, controlled position "in the hole" as this bottom position is called.

Key points...

  • Neutral spine position - neither flexed nor hyper-extended.
  • Chest up
  • Enough space between your lower legs to fit your hips
  • Knees tracking the middle of the foot
  • Weight on the "tripod" of the foot

The goblet squat allows you to learn and develop all of these.

How to Perform the Goblet Squat

Because it does so much to teach squat positioning, you'd think the goblet squat would be complicated to explain. In fact, it's not.

  • Clean the kettlebell and grasp it by the horns in front of your chest.
  • Keep your heels and the ball of your foot flat on the floor.
  • Descend into a squat, aiming to put your elbows on the teardrop shaped muscle just above your knee (Vastus Medialis).
  • Once in this position, stay there and address the key points in the section above.

Video

It's a bit of a longer video, so I've bookmarked the following...

0:00 - Intro and Resting Squat

1:50 - Goblet Squat

4:20 - Ankle Mobility Modifications

5:31 - Conclusion

Will Newton


In over twenty years of coaching, Will has coached everyone from absolute beginners to world champions. His interest in getting the best results for athletes who compete for the love of the sport, rather than as professionals, drives him to find the most effective ways to get results.

  • Excellent video. I had sensed some of the things you said just from doing the goblet squat but you really pulled it all together well and clearly.

    • Thanks, Charles.
      Six years ago, when I met Dan on my SFG1, he was very clear that he’d invented the goblet squat as a teaching tool. That’s never been lost on me and it made a huge difference to my squat and those of my clients.

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