The goblet squat is an incredible exercise that was popularized by legendary strength & conditioning coach Dan John (one of the most genuine and respected individuals in the our industry). Dan also popularized a saying in strength & conditioning that goes like this:
“If it’s important, do it every day. If it’s not important, don’t do it at all.”
Now, this advice actually came from the mouth of wrestling champ Dan Gable, but was relayed to us strength coaches by Dan John in THIS TNation article back in 2006. It’s been seven years since this article was written, but the advice is every bit as important today as it was back then.
Proper Squatting Mechanics: Use it or Lose it!
How does this advice apply to the goblet squat? Squatting an ability that you either use or lose as you age, so you never want to stop squatting. Even a simple bodyweight full squat requires a lot of good things to happen for the movement to take place. You need good foot mechanics to stay rigid by distributing the body’s weight over the whole foot without rolling into prontation. You need a flexible ankle joint to allow for considerable dorsiflexion so the knees can migrate forward. You need strong quadriceps to propel the body upwards and prevent excessive forward lean. You need good hip mobility to allow the femurs to sink deep into hip flexion. You need properly functioning glutes to absorb eccentric loading, extend the hips, and help the knees track properly over the toes. You need strong lumbar erectors to maintain lumbopelvic stability and prevent low back rounding and posterior pelvic tilting. You need strong thoracic extensors to keep the torso extended. And you need sound coordination to blend it all together efficiently.
If you can squat properly right now, then that’s great! Just keep it up. Stop squatting, and these mechanical characteristics erode over time. The ankles tighten up, the quads and glutes atrophy and weaken, the erectors shift from stabilizers to prime movers, and the whole movement pattern changes for the worse. Elderly individuals squat markedly different than younger individuals. Fortunately, much of this erosion of movement quality is preventable.
Building Fitness Qualities is Hard, but Maintaining them is Easy
Building flexibility, strength, and coordination is difficult, but maintaining these qualities is much easier. If you goblet squat every day, you will maintain the ability to squat well into advanced years. And it’s really not that hard! Just do a set of goblet squats every day. When I say every day, I mean 5-7 days per week.
Now, the goblet squat can and should be performed daily as part of a good warm-up, but it can also be performed as a strengthening exercise. For example, a 120 pound goblet squat for twenty reps will provide a beastly squatter with a potent upper back and quadricep training stimulus. Don’t believe me? Give it a try. You don’t need to go to failure or max out. Just use a moderately challenging load and focus on movement quality.
If You’re Gonna Do it, Do it Right!
It’s of vital importance, however, that you perform the goblet squat correctly. Please watch this two-and-a-half minute video and follow the instructions:
- dumbbell tucked into the upper chest
- elbows in
- feet slightly wider than shoulder width with 0-30 degrees of foot flare
- sink down into the squat
- knees out, elbows track inside of knees
- push through heels
- chest up
If you can make goblet squatting a daily habit, I can assure you that you will be rewarded in time with superior functional capacity and performance.