Squats are one of the most effective ways of building muscle throughout your body because they require synchronized movements from every part. Unfortunately, many people do squats wrong – and goblet squats, in particular, are easy to do incorrectly. In this guide, you'll learn how to do squats correctly.
Before we get to the goblet squat, though, there are a few exercises you'll need to do first. These will prepare your body for doing goblet squats correctly. You may also want to review other methods of strengthening your core.
Step One: Set Your Lower Body Posture
Jump vertically three times, facing forward as you do so. Once you've done your third jump, your legs should be in your natural landing position. This is the correct place to put your legs when you start doing squats. If you haven't done jumps very often, repeat as necessary until you've memorized the proper place to put your legs.
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It may take several days for you to memorize the position completely, and that's fine. What's important is that you learn where it is before you go any further. For added help, consider doing the three jumps before you begin doing your squats.
Once you have your position, it's time to do the first type of squat: the elbow squat. Make sure your feet are in position, then bend at your hips and knees to lower yourself as much as you can. From this position, use your elbows to slowly push out your knees while keeping your feet flat on the ground. Your butt should be below the height of your knees at this point.
Remain in this post for three seconds, then push a little deeper and push your knees out one more time. Repeat several times, as needed.
You shouldn't need more than one session of this maneuver because it exists for one reason, and one reason only: teaching you the correct way to squat. The primary goal is to show you how to drop your torso between your thighs instead of folding yourself at the waist. When done correctly, it should be much easier to perform a correct squat in the future.
Step Two: Set Your Upper Body Posture
People often think of squats as a lower-body exercise, but without the right posture with your upper body, you won't see the intended benefits. This is what step two will help with. You'll need a door with a knob at average height for this. We prefer those at home, which you can close while making sure you're not bothering anyone else.
When you're ready to begin, grab the doorknob from arm's length, then put your feet into the position you learned in Step One. If you've forgotten it, go back and repeat Step One until you've completely memorized the foot position and learned to drop your body correctly during squats. Again, this may take several days, and that's okay. What's important is learning to do it right, not learning to do it quickly.
Once you're in position, slowly lift your chest. This will tighten your lower back while spreading some of your muscles. Your shoulders should move back slightly during this process. If they aren't, you're doing something wrong and should double-check your distance and posture.
Keep holding on to the doorknob. While keeping your chest up and your arms extended straight, slowly bend your knees and hips to lower your body (in the movement you learned in Step One), then lean back. Carefully stand up from this position.
Throughout this process, you should remain tight in your core, shoulder, and chest muscles. This exercise supports that and teaches you how to distribute weight properly throughout your body. When you're in the right posture, you'll be able to handle heavier loads (including your body weight) at a significantly reduced chance of injury.
Repeat this drill – over several sessions, if need be – until you've memorized the posture it creates. You'll need to do goblet squats without a doorknob to balance against, so don't proceed any further until your core muscles are strong enough to do this on their own.
Step Three: The Proper Goblet Squat
You're ready to do proper goblet squats once you've done the first two steps and memorized the postures you'll need. This may be the only squat you need in a workout routine because it's so effective.
Begin with a light dumbbell appropriate for your current level of strength. Most people use a dumbbell between 25 and 50 pounds for this squat, but it's okay to go lighter – especially when you're still getting used to this exercise. Hold the dumbbell vertically by one side as if cupping a sphere from below, with your palms facing each other and your fingers spread wide.
From this position, bring the dumbbell close to your chest. Keep your elbows pointing down and slowly lower yourself into the squat position you learned during the first two steps. Your elbows should brush the insides of your knees as you go down, and it's okay if you push your knees out.
Many people think about this too much the first time they try it, which is why I recommend several repetitions of the first two steps before you begin doing goblet squats. When your body knows the correct movement, things go better.
From the lowered position – which you don't need to hold for more than a few seconds – straighten back up. Your upper body should remain fixed in place as long as you're correctly using your lower back, hips, and legs as a single unit. If you're bending forward and putting all the weight on your waist, you're doing it wrong.
The Complete Goblet Squat Workout
Now that you know how to do goblet squats, you're ready to move to the next level. The ultimate goal is to perform goblet squats with weights of 100 pounds or more. If that sounds like a lot, don't worry – this is the plan that will get you there. However, this does assume you're reasonably fit to begin with. Goblet squats aren't for people who are out-of-shape, so if you are, get back into shape first.
During Week One and Week Two, focus on mastering the technique of the goblet squat. Using a light dumbbell – less than 25 pounds – perform two or three sets of goblet squats with five to 20 repetitions in each set. Try to do one more each day, starting on the low end and working your way up. Do these squats five days a week.
By the time you finish with week two, you should have the technique of the goblet squat mastered. Do notskip this and proceed straight to the main exercises. Squats are only effective when done correctly – which means completely memorizing the proper technique. After several hundred practice squats over two weeks, you should be ready to move forward.
If you're still having difficulty doing goblet squats correctly, start over from Step One and repeat as needed until you've mastered the technique.
During Week Three, reduce the frequency of your squats to three times a week. Rest at least one day between each session – most people prefer a Monday/Wednesday/Friday plan for this. The goal here is to improve your strength and endurance while continuing to perfect your technique.
On Day One, start with the lightest dumbbell and do a set of five goblet squats. Repeat this with the next-heaviest dumbbell, and keep going until you find a dumbbell that's hard to lift but doesn't mess up your technique. This is the best weight to use with your current strength.
On Day Two, which is at least two days after Day 1, you'll be going in reverse. Start with the second-heaviest dumbbell (not the heaviest one you could lift) and do sets of five squats, working your way down the rack. You should try to do at least ten sets, with a rest of 20 seconds max between each set.
On Day Three, do both of them. Work your way up to the heaviest weight (that you found on Day 1), then go back down the rack, doing five goblet squats with each weight. Rest two days before doing any more squats.
During Week Four, repeat the process of Week Three with heavier dumbbells than before. Switch to three squats with each weight to balance things out.
For Week Five, you'll focus on building strength again.
On Day One, do 20 repetitions each in two sets with a dumbbell that challenged you in the most recent five sets. Rest for two minutes between your sets – this is longer than before, but since you're focusing on a heavy weight, it's essential.
On Day Two, use a weight that makes it hard to complete a full ten repetitions. Do eight reps with this weight, repeating in three sets, and rest 1 minute between each of your sets.
On Day Three, do the rack walk-up you did previously. Do three repetitions with each weight and stop when your technique is no longer adequate. You don't need to go back down the rack.
For Week Six, your goal is to break into the triple digits for weight – assuming you haven't already!
On Day One, do a walk-down of the rack. Go for three repetitions per weight, starting with something relatively heavy. When you finish, do it again, starting with a somewhat heavier weight. Wait 20 seconds between each of the sets and 30 seconds between walk-downs.
On Day Two, do some warm-ups with light weights, then two walk-ups. As before, do three repetitions with each weight, resting for 30 seconds between each set.
On Day Three, do a few warm-ups with light weights. After that, get the heaviest dumbbell (or similar weight) you can find and do a goblet squat with it. Ideally, this weight will be more than 100 pounds.
Congratulations – by the time you've reached this point, you're doing perfect goblet squats. Don't be afraid to repeat a week – or even start over – if you can't complete it. It can take time to build muscle, and you shouldn't push yourself so hard you get hurt.