If you want to boost lower body strength and power, look no further than the squat. The classic exercise hits just about every muscle below your waist, which is why you’ll find it on just about every trainer’s hit list. But as with any exercise, you’ll occasionally want to switch things up to prevent your muscles from becoming too accustomed to a specific movement pattern (and stop growing as a result). Enter: the dumbbell goblet squat.
The goblet variation changes up the squat movement by shifting the load from your upper back (à la the barbell back squat) to the center of your chest. With this simple change in motion, you’ll increase muscle activation throughout your core. You’ll also be able to maintain a more upright position as you lower your body, minimizing the strain on your knees and back. Follow along with Maricris in the video below as she demonstrates perfect form.
Dumbbell Goblet Squat: Step-by-Step Instructions
- Grab a dumbbell and hold it vertically in front of your chest, cupping the top end in both hands (imagine it’s a heavy goblet). Set your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your back flat and elbows pointed down, push your hips back and lower your body until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground (your elbows should touch the insides of your knees).
- Pause, and then slowly push yourself back up to the starting position.
How to Make the Dumbbell Goblet Squat Easier
If you need to make the dumbbell goblet squat exercise easier, use a lighter weight, or only lower your body as far as you comfortably can while maintaining proper form.
How to Make It Harder
Use a heavier weight, pause for longer at the bottom of the move, or do a goblet shooter squat.
Variation: Goblet shooter squat
- Start in the same stance as a regular goblet squat, and lower yourself until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor with your elbows touching the insides of your knees.
- Rotate to your right, dropping your left knee to the floor, and then stand up in a right-facing staggered stance.
- Reverse the move, lowering your body, rotating back to center, and then standing up to return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
- Repeat the entire sequence, this time rotating to your left. Continue alternating sides.
As you lower your body actively press your ankles, lower legs, and thighs outward (but don’t move your feet). Doing so will enhance stability and increase muscle tension and activation throughout your legs.
Primary Muscles Targeted by the Dumbbell Goblet Squat
The quadriceps are formed by four muscles on the front of your femur (thighbone): the rectus femoris, the vastus lateralis, the vastus medialis, and the vastus intermedius. They’re responsible for extension, or the straightening, of your legs. The quads also prevent your knees from buckling while stepping or landing.
The muscles of the butt consist of the gluteus minimum, gluteus medius, and the largest muscle in the human body, the gluteus maximus. They work in concert to mobilize the legs and hips, provide balance, and offer stability during single-leg movements like walking, running, and climbing stairs.
Gluteus maximus: Thigh extension
Gluteus medius: Abduction (lifting away from the body’s midline), medial (inward) rotation of the leg
Gluteus minimus: Abduction, medial rotation of the leg