Exercises You Should Be Doing: KB Goblet Squat w/ Lowering

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It’s hard to imagine a more versatile and “user friendly” exercise than the Goblet squat. I think we should collectively pass it into law that anytime anyone in the fitness industry crosses paths with Dan John, he or she is obligated to give him a high-five for popularizing it.

Or buy him a steak. His choice.

Taking pain, injury, and one’s anatomy/musculoskeletal limitations (FAI, bone spurs, etc) out of the equation, I’d argue there’s no one on Earth who couldn’t learn how to squat correctly within ten minutes of performing their first Goblet squat.

And they’re not just a one-trick pony either.

They also help solve everything from anterior knee pain to global warming to a bad hair day. They even solve bipartisanship. Congress can’t agree on simple things like health care for veterans or making birth control easily accessible for women (or that the number 3 comes after 2), Republicans and Democrats across the board give two thumbs up to Goblet squats.

They’re like magic, Gandalf and Professor Dumbledore approved.

There are a number of iterations:

1. Regular ol’ Goblet Squats – DB or KB.

2. Goblet Squat w/ Pulse

 3. Goblet Elevator Squats

 

And one I’m going to propose today…..

Goblet Squat w/ Lowering

Gold star to me for the sick t-shirt.

Who Did I Steal It From: I know of several coaches who have used this variation – Dean Somerset, Dr. Mark Cheng, Dan John, and Mike Robertson to name a few. So I’ll give credit to all of them.

And not for nothing: it should give you an indication of the exercise’s validity and overall bad-assery that so many top-notch coaches recommend doing it.

What Does It Do: The lowering component (where you actually lower the KB down to the floor while in the bottom position) adds an additional challenge to the exercise by increasing the lever arm (the actual distance the KB travels as you lower it away from the body).

This forces the anterior core to fire on all cylinders, but also the muscles posteriorly to help resist the flexion moment (learning to stay more upright).

I also love using this variation with people who tend to be hyper-mobile. Whenever I see a client or athlete with a loosey goosey (<- that’s the scientific term) squat pattern, where they can’t seem to control anything – the knees, hips and torso resemble a baby giraffe learning to walk – I’ll have them perform this exercise.

Why?

Because it forces them to concentrate, slow down, and OWN the position, especially in the bottom.

People who are more lax tend to “relax” in the bottom position which places much more stress on their passive restraints – ligaments, tendons, etc.

By adding in the “lowering” component, it forces them to own tension, and thereby helping/teaching them to maintain (hopefully) a more optimal pelvic position. And knees, and torso.

Key Coaching Cues: Slow down. I’ll generally have someone perform a controlled tempo on the way down (2-5s). In the bottom position I’ll have them perform 1-2 “pumps” where they lower the KB down towards the floor, again, in a controlled fashion.

One repetition = squat down, 1-2 pumps in the bottom position, then return back to standing.

Have fun.

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  • Paul Bruce

    This is a great exercise, thank you so much! I’m often thinking about how to program things for my clients, and this is definitely one such exercise, but I also like it for myself! I have a pretty weak low back and sometimes have trouble staying neutral in the lumbar and extended in the thoracic when going down to squat, so this looks wonderful. Thanks so much.

  • Michael Fazekas

    I always get really bad hip pain on both sides when I do goblet squats. What am I doing wrong?

    • TonyGentilcore

      Tough to say without seeing you in person Michael, but it may be your anatomy, hip structure, etc. Some people just can’t squat too deep due to their or body structure.

      I’d say do this:

      1. Brace your abs, hard! This will posteriorly tilt the pelvis more and maybe alleviate the pain.

      2. If not, squat to a box to a height that doesn’t hurt.

      Hope that helps.

  • Henk

    What about lowering the KB on the ground and picking it up again before standing up? Seen some professionals do that variation too. Or what about lifting the KB overhead while squatting after you’ve done a couple of pumps? I think Strong First guys utilize that drill as a part of their programs.

    • Benjamin van Assum

      Or what about… Every exercise can be adjusted. Pro or no pro… If you want to be fit, exercise with prppper form don’t worry too much about exercise programming Henk.

      • Henk

        Yeah, obviously. The intent of my comment was merely to get Tony’s feedback on those variations. That’s all.

    • TonyGentilcore

      All are good options. Every exercise can be regressed or progressed depending on someone’s ability and goals.

      I’m all for squatting with the KB overhead so long as someone has ample shoulder flexion and doesn’t compensate through their lumbar spine.

  • I award you one gold star. Also, you get a smiley face for that Dumbledolf meme. This exercise is great for those of us who travel. You can pick up just about anything with weight and knock out some valuable reps with these modifications. It certainly beats bodyweight squats, pushups, and dips for millionth time.

  • Diwesh Poudyal

    Hi Tony, I am a hypermobile athlete and I’ve been looking for everything I can find to get me overall more control but also get rid of back pain. I’ve been having back pain since I was 18 (i’m 21 now) but it’s gotten really bad recently and I can’t squat or deadlift without pain anymore which I love doing. I’ve been doing a lot of research and have found some stuff that can help like strengthening my TA and my other deeper core muscles. Is there any other info that you can share that might help?
    P.S. I’m a big fan of all of you guys over at CSP, I’ve learned a lot more from reading all of your articles and watching videos than my Exercise Physiology program in college.

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  • Andy Marks

    Mr g, which is best option if one has lower back l4 l5 issues!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Well, I think both would be fine so long as you’re able to maintain a neutral spine throughout.

  • Shane Mclean

    Goblet squat with bicep curl would be a more popular name :). Love me some curls. Love the variation Tony and congrats on having 2 article in the PTDC this week.

    • TonyGentilcore

      DAMMMIT! That would have gotten me at least 20,000 more clicks if I used that as the title.

      • Shane Mclean

        You know it!. Ha ha

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