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Why the Goblet Squat Rocks

If you’re looking to improve your squatting form, consider holding a weight. It may sound counter-intuitive—after all, tacking on resistance typically makes a move more challenging—but when it comes to squatting, adding heft (in the right way) might actually help.

The goblet squat involves holding a free weight—either a kettlebell or a dumbbell—in front of you at chest level as you do the move. This positioning can help you squat with greater ease and mobility.

Here’s how to do the goblet squat:

You’ll need a kettlebell or a dumbbell. Though the right amount of weight will vary depending on your fitness level and goals, all three trainers recommend starting light. If you’re not sure what that means for you, try beginning with a 5-pound weight and adding weight once you feel comfortable.

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes angled slightly outward. Press down firmly through your entire foot.

  • Hold your weight at chest level and grip it firmly with both hands. If using a kettlebell, grip the handle on each side with the bulk of the weight hanging below or flip the weight and grip the handle beneath the bulk of the weight. If using a dumbbell, hold the weight vertically and grip it by one of the heads.

  • Press your glutes and hips behind you and try to keep your back flat and torso upright as you bend your knees to lower yourself. If your heels start lifting, try spreading your feet farther apart.

  • Lower as far as your range of motion allows.

  • Once you’ve reached the end of your range of motion (if your back starts to round, you’ve gone too far), pause and then press firmly through your feet to stand back up. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement.

That's 1 rep. Try 5 to 20 reps.

If you’re new to goblet squats, attempt them first as a warm-up. Go slow and stay mindful of your form. Once you’re comfortable with the move, you can play around with your foot positioning (pointing them straight forward, or narrowing your stance, for example), and the speed at which you perform reps. As long as your back is in a good, safe position, it’s going to be very effective.

If you’re struggling to perform the move correctly, you can regress it by holding a very light weight and placing a box behind you as you squat. Practice pushing your butt back as far as you can (so that if you removed the box, you would fall), and at the bottom movement, make sure that your knee and shin are almost in one vertical line, he says. Once you’re comfortable with these lightly weighted box squats, you can remove the box and attempt the goblet squat again.

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