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7 Goblet Squat Alternatives to Keep Your Workout Fun!

alternatives to goblet squats

Goblet squats are one of the most popular types of squats for good reason, they are easy to modify to meet your needs and effective.  But what happens when your routine becomes dull and you need to change it up?  That’s where we come in.

Fitness enthusiasts and athletes alike are looking for alternatives to the goblet squat whether they use our workout system, or train alone, and we’d like to share with you seven of the best options you have when this movement “gobbles” up the routine and is no longer enjoyable.  And finding the right alternative means starting with knowing how the goblet squat works your body.

Goblet squats have two key benefits:

  1. They’re a great full-body exercise that works your whole body including the quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, hip, back, shoulders, biceps, and core.
  2. By keeping the weight in front of your body, they keep you in an upright posture throughout the lift. This puts more emphasis on the glutes while you hinge less at the hips than a standard barbell squat.

Here are 7 alternatives to goblet squats and when to choose which.

  1. Front squat
  2. Landmine squat
  3. Overhead squat
  4. Dumbbell overhead press squat
  5. Squat to front raise squat
  6. Kettlebell swing squat
  7. Stadium Stairs with arm weights

Front squat

The front squat keeps the weight in front of your body just like the goblet squat, and it allows you to load more weight by using a barbell. If you want to focus on higher reps with no weight, try using a squat machine that keeps you in the upright position over your heels to fully engage those glutes.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold the barbell in the rack position with an open hand grip, elbows up, and chest up.
  3. Descend as if you're sitting in a chair.
  4. Keep descending until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  5. Pause and then push through your heels to stand up.

Landmine squat

Landmine squats are another great choice, and you can do them with or without an overhead press. Because one end of the barbell is stuck to the ground, this alternative to the goblet squat makes you work hard to stay balanced so that the weight doesn’t rotate left or right (and that you don’t bend forward or back during the lift.)

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold the weighted side of the barbell in your hands in front of your chest with the other end secured in the landmine pivot.
  3. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  4. Push up through your heels and press the weight up through an arc until your arms are fully extended.
  5. Return to the starting position.

Pro-tip: Use one arm with the bar positioned to the side (vs in the center) of your body for a tougher workout and an incredible balance challenge.

Overhead squat

This alternative works your full body (especially the shoulders) just like the standard goblet squat, and makes you work harder to balance because of the high center of gravity.

  1. Hold a barbell over your head with your arms fully extended and slightly wider than your shoulders.
  2. Squat while keeping your arms straight and over your head.
  3. Keep descending until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  4. Pause and then push through your heels to stand up.

Dumbbell overhead press squat

You’ll get all the great benefits of the goblet squat plus an extra burn in your shoulders with the overhead press. If you do this variant with only one dumbbell (in one hand) at a time, then you’ll add an extra challenge for your oblique muscles as well.

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level with your arms bent.
  2. Squat down while keeping the dumbbells still.
  3. Pause and then push through your heels to stand up.
  4. Press the dumbbells up over your head as you stand up.
  5. Return to the starting position.

Pro-tip: You can work your rotator muscles for extra toned shoulders by adding an extra move by keeping your arms extended while you rotate the weights down to the side, the front, or both, then back above your head. 

Squat to front raise

The front raise motion helps to tone the shoulders while also making your core heavily engaged. This multi-plane movement (i.e. squatting straight up and down while rotating the weight through an arc in front of you) makes this alternative to goblets great for balance and coordination.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell with each hand so that the hand grip is parallel to the ground.
  3. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  4. As you squat down, keep your arms extended as you raise the dumbbell until it’s straight out in front of you.
  5. Pause briefly and then push through your heels to stand up as you slowly lower the dumbbell.

Pro-tip: Add some extra toughness for your lats by rotating the dumbbell left and right as you hold it in front of you (like you’re turning a steering wheel).

Kettlebell swing squat

If you’re short on time and want strength and cardio, then you can’t go wrong with kettlebell swings. By swinging a kettlebell over your head you get a full body workout and elicit cardiovascular excitement (source).

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Hold a kettlebell between your legs with both hands.
  3. Squat down until the weight almost touches the ground.
  4. As you stand up, keep your arms extended as you raise the kettlebell over your head as if you’re tossing it behind you (don’t let it go unless you have a great insurance policy).
  5. Keep your arms extended as you return the kettlebell to the starting position in a slow, smooth, controlled motion (keep your back straight throughout, don’t let yourself bend).

Stadium stairs with arm weights

While not a squat exercise, running stairs with arm weights targets all the muscles of the goblet squat and gives you an aerobic workout at the same time. Using wrist weights or carrying small dumbbells will help tone your arms as you climb the stairs.

If you don’t have a stadium nearby, any set of stairs like the Exorcist stairs for people in the DC area, the Rocky steps in the city of brotherly love, or the Joker Stairs in NYC will do.

You don’t have to keep doing the same exercises over and over to get the benefits.  There are always other movements that use the same muscle groups.  And now you have 7 alternatives to goblet squats that you can use to keep leg day fun!

How To Do a Goblet Squat and 5 Variations

how to do a goblet squat

If you’re ready to tone and strengthen your whole body while improving athletic performance, goblet squats are the right choice for you! This type of squat gets its name from the position you hold with a free weight in front of you.  Proper goblet squat form will keep your hands and arms steady while holding a cup so that none of the liquid spills.  And goblet squats are one of the most popular squats because they work both lower and upper body muscles including the quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, hip, back, shoulders, biceps, and core.

In addition to being a great full body workout, goblet squats keep you in an upright angle throughout the squat which makes them a great choice if you are working on your posture (source) and for people that suffer from limited ankle dorsiflexion (source), meaning you have trouble moving your foot around and you may be adding extra stress on your quads (source).

Because this exercise helps with overall body strength, balance, and thrust, you’re going to find daily and once-in-a-while tasks like lifting and carrying a laundry basket, or putting a suitcase in an overhead bin easier.  Not to mention you’ll be training your body for sports that require both legs and arms including lacrosse, rugby, and swimming.

Here’s how to do a goblet squat:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a weight (dumbbell, kettlebell) in your hands like you’re cupping a giant goblet.
  3. Squat down while keeping the “goblet” still.
  4. Keep descending until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  5. Pause and then push through your heels to stand up.

But the same-old same-old can get boring.  Other times you plateau, and that’s another reason goblet squats are so popular, they have modified variations that let you customize the movement for a harder challenge, easier intensity, and to match your fitness goals.

Here’s five of our favorite modified goblet squats with how to do them:

  1. Box
  2. Wall
  3. Sumo
  4. Overhead press
  5. Arms extended

Please note we reference the free weight as a “goblet” so you can keep the visual of holding a cup steady so it doesn’t spill.  You can use a barbell plate, dumbbells, kettlebells, or whatever works best for you.

Goblet Box Squat

By starting with your butt on a box, the lifting portion requires you to exert more power in the ascending phase of the movement (source). This makes the goblet box squat good if your daily life requires lifting heavy objects, or you want to work your quads.

  1. Start out sitting on a box or a chair with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold the “goblet” as you would in the standard variant.
  3. Without rocking, push through your heels to stand up.
  4. Lower yourself to the seated position and repeat. 

If you have trouble with a goblet box squat, or simply want a better booty workout, try a glute focused squat machine like ours.  You’ll be able to decrease or increase intensity and focus in on your bottom helping to shape, tone, and define it as your genetics allow.

Goblet Wall Squat

This type of goblet squat is pure isometric bliss. Isometric exercises are great for lowering (or not raising) blood pressure (source) and for helping to stabilize joints and reducing pain (source).

  1. Start out with your back leaning against a wall and your thighs parallel to the floor.
  2. Hold the “goblet” as you would in the standard variant.
  3. Hold for 25 minutes (just kidding).

Goblet Sumo Squats

This variation works your hip adductors (i.e. your inner thigh muscles) more than usual. Goblet sumo squats are essentials for leg day if you play cut-to-run sports like soccer, since they help prevent one of the most common athletic injuries, pulling your groin (source).  

And if you’re not an athlete, sumo squats are a form of functional strength training because they work multiple muscles at once, helping you finish your workout faster if you’re short on time.

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointed outwards at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Hold the “goblet” as you would in the standard variant.
  3. Squat down while keeping the “goblet” still and pushing your hips away from your feet.
  4. Descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  5. Push through your heels to stand up.

Goblet Overhead Press Squats

By adding an overhead press at the top portion of the goblet squat, you’re adding a shoulder workout with extra arm intensity because your arms need to control the movement where you take the goblet from holding steady in front of you to your shoulders for the raise. 

And because you never rest throughout the set, this variation gives you an anaerobic workout that burns fat and strengthens bones (source).  Just like the sumo version, this variation is a massive time saver if you don’t want to skip shoulders and arms, but are short on time.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold the “goblet” as you would in the standard variant.
  3. Squat down while keeping the “goblet” still.
  4. When you finish the up phase of the squat, press the “goblet” up over your head.
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Goblet Arms Extended Squats

If you want to work your core and arms extra hard, this advanced version of the goblet squat is for you!  Holding the weight while keeping straight arms causes your shoulders, your entire core, and your upper back to engage even more heavily than in the standard version.  

So if your reps are becoming too easy, and you aren’t ready to increase the weight of the “goblet” yet, try an extended arm goblet squat until you can increase the weight.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a weight (dumbbell, kettlebell) in your hands with your arms straight out in front of you.
  3. Squat down while keeping the “goblet” still.
  4. Keep descending until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  5. Pause and then push through your heels to stand up.

Goblet squats are one of the most popular types of squats because you can get a full body workout, the weight lets you customize it to your fitness levels, and they can be modified to make your daily tasks easier.  Looking for more tips like these, subscriber to our newsletter below!

The Types of Squats & When to Do Which

the types of squats

The squat is known as the “king of all exercises” as it can give you a full body workout depending on the type of squat you do.  There are machines and free weights to add resistance, and bodyweight squats to let you focus on form and relaxing.  

Fun fact: The squat was made popular by Henry Steinborn, a German immigrant, in a 1921 issue of Strength magazine. From that point on the variations begin to take their place in fitness history.

Whether you’re an elite athlete looking for an edge in competition or trying to stay in shape, choosing the right types of squats is easy with the guide below.  Start by clicking to the correct section that matches your goals, and then learn about each type of squat and how they can “work” within your “workout.”

Squats are one of the best exercises to develop strength and power (source), and they also help you avoid injuries (source), jump higher (source), sprint faster (source), and run longer (source). 

Even the simplest things in life get easier, like getting up from a chair. And while this may not seem like a big deal now, doing squats on a regular basis will make sure it doesn’t become a big deal when you get into your golden years.

Fun fact: All types of squats involve both lower and upper body muscles, even though it looks like your legs and glutes are doing most of the work.

The main muscles that squat work are your quads, glutes, hamstrings, hips, calves, core and back. But you can emphasize certain muscles or target specific strength training or functional goals you have by choosing different types of squats. 

Bodyweight squats

  • Air squat: This is the classic squat done without additional weight and is a great choice for beginners or people that want to benefit from low impact exercises. It’s also good for people looking to practice proper squat form. But don’t confuse these with being easy just because you don’t use any additional weights. After a few sets with proper technique, they won’t feel “light as air” anymore.
  • Sissy squat: Your knees and head move in opposite directions, which makes sissy squats a good choice for anyone that needs to improve their front/back balance while getting a killer quad workout. And because of the “lean back” motion, you will love that you did sissy squats the next time you’re at a party and someone yells “limbo!”

Power and Strength Building Squats

  • Box squat: The box squat forces you to expend more power in the up phase of the lift because you start with your butt on a box (source). This makes box squats are great for people that want to focus on immediate power explosions for sports, like football linemen or rugby players. Box squats are also a great functional exercise since they mimic the motion of getting out of a chair. 
  • Landmine squat: Landmine squats require you to stabilize yourself and the weight moves through an arc (since one side of the barbell pivots around a point on the ground). This makes them a good choice to train for things like hefting sandbags over a wall, pushing people up and away from you, or in case you get picked to shoot a basketball from halfcourt at halftime for a big prize.
  • Sumo squats: Anyone that needs to move around large amounts of weight, like sumo wrestlers. But you don’t have to get into the ring to benefit from sumo squats. These are also great for anyone that plays cut-to-run sports like soccer or hockey because sumo squats use a wide stance that really makes your groin muscles groan.

Easier on the Back and Knees Squats

  • Hack squat: The hack squat keeps your head over your hips throughout the exercise, which makes them perfect for anyone with a weak or injured back. This also makes them work hard on the quads while taking some pressure off the hamstrings and glutes, making them a good choice for anyone looking to bulk up their thighs.
  • Pendulum squats: Pendulum squats are the choice for people with knee issues that still want to get a heavy squat workout. By using the pendulum squat machine, you relieve pressure on the knee joint but still get a full range of motion.

Unilateral Squats

  • Bulgarian squat: Also called “Bulgarian split squats,” the unilateral nature of this exercise helps people that need to fix muscle imbalances. It’s also a great choice for people that want to work on their balance in general since your rear leg sits on a bench behind you in the Bulgarian squat. This makes your hip abductors work hard to stabilize you as you squat, which improves balance.
  • Pistol squat: These are one of the more difficult squats since you hold one leg in front of you during the squat. But this also makes them a great choice for anyone that wants to work on balance and joint mobility, like all you runners out there. They’re also a good choice for fixing muscle imbalances due since they’re a unilateral exercise.

Standard Barbell Squats

  • Front squats: People that want the benefit of squats with less hinge at the hips. That’s because the front squat places the weight in front of your body, which changes the center of gravity and causes you to hinge less at the hips than a back squat. You might choose this for improved cycling performance because this change makes your quads work harder than the back squat (source).
  • High bar back squats: Most people that want an overall body workout. This is the most common type of squat and places the bar across your shoulders and is good for athletes and non-athletes looking for an overall body workout.
  • Low bar squats: Low bar squats put the bar across your shoulder blades (instead of across the top of your shoulders). This makes you hinge more at the hips during the squat and makes this type of squat a good choice if you want to engage your back muscles more. While low bar squats won’t help get that figurative monkey off your back wrestlers might choose this type of squat to make it easier getting an opponent off their back. 

Additional Upper Body Workout Squats

  • Overhead squats: People that want to focus on balance and get a good upper body workout while squatting. That’s because you hold the weight over your head while doing a squat, which works the upper body, especially your shoulders, and makes it harder to maintain balance with a high center of gravity. This type of squat is great to help basketball players get the rebound in a crowd and it’s good for activities like hoisting a large wooden beam into place during a home renovation. 
  • Dumbbell squat: This type of squat is another great option for people that want to work on balance or engage even more upper body muscles more in their squat. That’s because using dumbbells allows you to add more weight to one side, add an arm curl or pressing motion during the squat, or incorporate an isometric hold during the squat (like holding a dumbbell directly out in front of you for a killer core workout).
  • Zercher squats: Zercher squats require you to hold the weight in your arms as you squat, which heavily engages your core and upper back. This makes them a great choice for people that want to train for everyday activities, like lugging around bags of groceries or lugging a loved one off the couch and into the bedroom without waking them (and without breaking your back).
 

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