Exercises You Should Be Doing: Goblet Elevator Squats

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As far as “fool proof” exercises are concerned, you’d be hard pressed to do much better than Goblet squats.

I’d toss in an obligatory “it’s so easy a cave man can do it” joke here, but, well, shit, I just did.

Time and time again I’ve seen someone with some of the worst squatting technique you can imagine (Think: knee valgus, rounded back, my corneas perpetually bleeding), only to see them squatting flawlessly in a matter of minutes when coaching them up on the Goblet squat.

Likewise, almost always, whenever someone complains about how much “squatting hurts my knees,” I can get them performing them pain-free with a little cueing and attention to detail.

I like call it “pulling a Dumbledore,” because it’s borderline magical in their eyes.

It makes complete sense when you think about though.

– Give them an anterior load to force them engage their core musculature more efficiently and to provide more stability.

– Cue them to SIT BACK (keeping their feet flat,however placing the brunt of their weight into their heels), while simultaneously pushing their knees out (t0 open up the hips).

– And then teach them to “finish” with their glutes at the top, and not only do they see drastic improvements in their technique (and depth), but it feels effortless and less painful.

That said, even though the natural progression is to (eventually) move towards barbell variations, sometimes it’s advantageous to stick with Goblet squats in the interim and make them more “challenging.”

Goblet Elevator Squat

Who Did I Steal It From:  In a roundabout way, Ben Bruno.  I saw a video he posted doing the same thing with a front squat, and figured this would be a nice regression for those of us who prefer not to hate life.

What Does It Do:  Well, first, it’s important to recognize that you should master regular ol’ Goblet squats before moving on to this variation.

HERE’s a great starting point from the guy who pretty much popularized the movement, Dan John.

Having said that, Goblet elevator squats are an easy way to increase time under tension, or TUT for the exercise physiology geeks in the crowd.

Key Coaching Cues:  All the same cues for a normal Goblet squat come into play, except here you’re going to break up each repetition into segments where you come up 1/2 way, go back down, come up 3/4 of the way, then come back up to the starting position.

Your quads should be flipping you the bird by the end.

Because of the increased TUT, I like to keep the repetitions on the low(er) side – 5 to 6 – but for the more sadistic minded people reading, feel free to work your up to ten total repetitions (which is really 30 when you factor in the “breaks” in each rep).

Have fun!


For those looking for even more ways to up the ante with their Goblet squats (or their exercise repertoire in general) check out Jen Sinkler’s Lift Weights Faster.

The programming and exercise database will undoubtedly keep you on your toes and satiate anyone who gets easily bored with their workouts.

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