How To Do A Goblet Squat Plus 7 Variations

Traditional barbell back squats are the king of leg exercises. But they’re not that great for targeting specific muscles in your lower body. Plus the heavy loads can put a strain on your lower back.

The goblet squat, on the other hand, puts very little stress on your back. And it’s a versatile exercise that you can easily alter to fit your gym equipment and your bodybuilding goals.

In this article, I show you how to do a goblet squat. As well as providing you with several goblet squat variations for targeting specific parts of your legs.

Goblet Squat

What Is A Goblet Squat?

The goblet squat is a lower-body exercise where you hold a weight in front of your chest while performing the squat movement. Usually, the weight is either a dumbbell, kettlebell, or weight plate.

By holding the weight in front, your back is able to stay in a more upright position. This is why goblet squats put less strain on your lower back than regular squats.

While this exercise is not a direct replacement for barbell squats, it is a very good accessory lift for your leg day workouts.

Goblet Squat Muscles Worked

As with any squatting movement, goblet squats work nearly every muscle in your lower body. Including the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, hip flexors, and even the calves to some extent.

However, the more upright back position shifts some of the load off of the glutes and hamstrings. Therefore, goblet squats are best for targeting the quads.

Goblet Squat Muscles Worked

Goblet Squat vs Front Squat

The front squat is another exercise where you hold the weight in front of you. And if you’re familiar with this exercise, you know that it also puts more emphasis on the quads.

However, the weight is still on your shoulders during a front squat. Whereas the goblet squat puts the weight’s center of mass a few inches in front of your shoulders.

For this reason, goblet squats put even more emphasis on the quads than front squats.

Goblet Squat Benefits & Limitations

As I mentioned already, the goblet squat has several benefits. But it’s not without limitations.

One drawback is that you’re limited by how much weight you can hold in front of your chest. This means the load and resultant muscle adaptation are significantly lower compared to traditional squats.


  • Less strain on the lower back
  • Can use whatever form of weight you have available
  • Multiple variations for targeting specific leg muscles
  • Don’t need a lot of space


  • Can’t go as heavy as you can on barbell squats
  • Not the best for overall lower body development

How To Do A Goblet Squat

Now that you know the basics, let’s get into how to perform the exercise correctly. Here are the step-by-step instructions including a short video.

  1. Pick up the weight
  2. Hold the weight against your chest with your palms facing in and elbows directly under your hands
  3. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart (for standard goblet squat)
  4. Squat down until your elbows touch your thighs
  5. Push your body back up to the starting position by squeezing your thighs and glutes
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps and carefully drop the weight in front of you

Proper Goblet Squat Form

Here are some additional tips to help you perform this exercise with proper form.

  • You should be able to get low enough that your thighs are about parallel with the floor
  • For standard goblet squats, your knees should be directly over your toes at the bottom
  • Keep your back straight and relatively upright
  • Squeeze your quads at the top

Goblet Squat Variations

Next up, I’m going to show you several goblet squat variations for targeting specific parts of the legs. As well as ways you can perform the exercise with different types of equipment.

Sumo Goblet Squat

With the standard dumbbell goblet squat, you get a pretty balanced load distribution on the quads. This means it works the inside and the outside.

In contrast, the sumo goblet squat puts more emphasis on the inner thighs and groin area. The reason is the wide sumo stance where your feet are 1.5 to 2 times shoulder-width.

Heel Elevated Goblet Squat

In order to isolate the quads further, you can do a heel elevated goblet squat. This is where you place a weight plate or platform under your heels during the exercise.

Elevating your heels shifts your weight farther forward and keeps your back more upright relative to your hips. Also, your knees bend further and move forward past your toes, resulting in greater quad activation.

In addition, keeping your feet close together works more of your outer quads. At this point, the movement pattern begins to resemble a hack squat or a sissy squat. Which are also good exercises for building bigger quads.

Standard Goblet Squat vs Heel Elevated Goblet Squat

Goblet Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squat is an exercise where you squat with one leg while the other leg is elevated on a bench or platform behind you. With this exercise, you recruit more stabilizer muscles to balance and isolate one leg at a time.

Usually, the split squat is performed with a dumbbell (or dumbbells) hanging at arm’s length. But if you hold the weight up by your chest, you shift your center of gravity forward.

If you combine this with a shorter step length, you can really isolate the quads.

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

Now, what if you work out at home or at a CrossFit gym that doesn’t have dumbbells? Not to worry. You can use kettlebells instead of dumbbells.

For a KB goblet squat, the movement is exactly the same. The only difference is that you hold the kettlebell against your chest by grasping the lower part of the handle with your palms facing in.

Goblet Squat With Plate

If you don’t have dumbbells or kettlebells, you can even perform goblet squats by simply holding a weight plate in front of your chest.

Custom Nutrition & Workout Plan

Get a personalized meal plan built to fit your body and lifestyle. Including a custom workout routine designed around your fitness goals.

With your custom plan, you will finally be able to burn fat, build muscle, and transform your body. All this for just $19.99!

Click here to choose your plan.

Landmine Goblet Squat

Another variation involves an apparatus called a landmine. Most often, this is used for an exercise like landmine rows. But it works great for other movements, including goblet squats.

Banded Goblet Squat

Lastly, if you’re working out at home and have none of the equipment listed above, you can do a resistance band goblet squat. For a complete at home resistance band workout, check out these 17 resistance band exercises for legs.

Hypertrophy Training Program

Goblet squats are an excellent addition to your lower body or leg day workouts. But if you really want to reach your fitness goals, you need a complete resistance training plan designed for muscle gain.

In order to maximize muscle growth (aka hypertrophy), you should adjust 10 specific training variables. Check out my free hypertrophy training program to see how to optimize your workouts.

With this information, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your fitness goals. And if you found this exercise tutorial helpful, click on the articles below for more workout tips!

Share with your community and get the conversation started!