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The Best Tips To Do Kettlebell Goblet Squats Properly

 Written by 

Mauro Castillo

 Last updated on 

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The squat exercise is one of the most complete and functional movements. It’s beginner-friendly, has a low risk of injury, and is an effective muscle builder. But when you add weight in the form of the kettlebell, it turns into a fun yet intense exercise with additional benefits. 

In this article, you’ll learn about the kettlebell goblet squats; the muscles worked, the technique and workouts to build body strength immediately.

A woman at the gym doing goblet squats with a kettlebell
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What Is A Kettlebell Goblet Squat?

The goblet squat gets its name because the hands holding the weight make the shape of a goblet. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a goblet is a bowl-shaped drinking vessel without handles, often seen in Catholic mass celebrations. When the added weight is a kettlebell, it’s called a kettlebell goblet squat. However, there are also dumbbell goblet squats, med ball goblet squats, and others. 

This is a terrific variation from the traditional back squat or bodyweight squats because it removes the tension from the lower back while gaining positional strength with your hands at chest height.

The kettlebell goblet squat is a movement anyone can do independent of their fitness level. It also offers full-body benefits as a functional movement creating muscle endurance and builds strength.

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A man doing kettlebell goblet squats at home
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Form & Technique

Learning any movement technique should be a priority before adding volume and intensity. A proper form will maximize the benefits and keep injury risk to the minimum. For the correct form in the kettlebell goblet squat, the bottom of the kettlebell should be facing up, and the handle should be facing down.

Bring your wrists together and place the kettlebell between your hands and close to your chest. Your feet’ stance should be wider than hip width and toes pointing slightly outside. This will put your hips in the correct position for the squat movement. 

As you begin the squat, try keeping your chest tall and your elbows slightly pointing outwards. Kettlebell at chest height the whole time. This might not be a comfortable position for your arms at first, but with time you’ll notice improvements and gain confidence in the squat position.

Common Errors

Although the kettlebell goblet squat is easy, there’s always room for error at any level. The following may be common beginner-level mistakes; however, they can be the difference between injury and progress. These errors are easy to fix and should be addressed as soon as possible to maximize results without unnecessary pain.

Rounded Back

The rounded back is a common mistake, primarily seen in beginners. This squat requires the torso upright to hold the kettlebell at chest height. For this to happen, the upper back muscles must be engaged throughout the entire movement.

Many people will find this hard at first, especially if they come from a sedentary lifestyle or a desk job. To fix this error, you can tempo goblet squats (light weights), where you go down slower and pause at the bottom of the squat. This will create muscle endurance, allowing you to correct your posture. 

You can try a few other options:

Prisoner Air Squats

Arms Overhead Air Squat


Back Extension

The key is to be patient and consistent!

Looking Up

The main problem with looking up while your body is going down is the unnecessary tension you put on your neck. Not to mention the mind-muscle disconnection you’ll experience because you’re unaware of your body’s positioning. 

Luckily, this has a quick solution. You want to keep your neck neutral through the entire range of motion of the squat. Think of looking deep ahead at an eye level. This will keep you engaged with the exercise since now you’re conscious of the movement as you go. 

Collapsed Knees

Collapsing knees is one of the most common squatting mistakes. You can see it everywhere, even on the more experienced lifters. This can signal an underlying movement issue that, if uncorrected, can lead to various knee injuries, including

– Patellofemoral syndrome

– Anterior cruciate ligament tears

– Degeneration of the meniscus.

All of them are due to altered compressive forces on the femur and the patella (2.)

The first step to fixing this is becoming aware of the problem. Performing the movement in front of a mirror can help as a visual cue to correct it live. Another solution is placing a band loop around the mid-thighs as an external cue to push the knees out.  

Inactive Core

The core muscles are often forgotten when performing compound movements such as the kettlebell goblet squat. This mistake can lead to midline instability, especially under heavy weights and fatigue, which increases the risk of injury. 

To prevent this from happening, before starting the movement, inhale towards your belly (think of pushing your stomach out) and hold it until your hips gets parallel with your knees, then exhale on your way up. That is how to correct this common error and keep your spine healthy.

Two women at the gym doing kettlebell goblet squats
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Muscles Worked

The squat is an excellent compound movement to develop the lower body, but adding the kettlebell goblet variation will turn it into a full-body exercise. Even if you’re using lighter weights or have a limited range of motion, the kettlebell goblet squat will induce significant muscle activation.

This includes upper and lower-body musculature.


The quadriceps are responsible for extending the knee whenever needed. We use them to walk, run, jump, stand up from a chair, etc. These four muscles are vastus medialis, lateralis, intermedium, and rectus femoris.

Because the kettlebell is placed in front of the body, the quadriceps will have a mechanical advantage in producing more force. The movement pattern will target the quadriceps on the way down (eccentric) and the way up (concentric), making it a terrific exercise to develop strength and lower body hypertrophy.

Bonus tip: increasing your heel elevation will also increase your knees’ range of motion, allowing them to recruit more muscle fibers on each rep.


The gluteal muscles don’t receive the attention they deserve. Without them, we couldn’t stand still, walk, or do anything that requires pelvis stabilization. 

This group consists of three main muscles: 

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– Gluteus Maximus 

– Gluteus Medium 

– Gluteus Minimum

A schema of glutes to show what is worked during goblet squats
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The kettlebell goblet squat does a tremendous job of activating these muscles, especially at the bottom of the squat in their lengthened position. Increasing the feet stance, like a sumo squat, will target the butt muscles more since that position will allow more hip flexion.

Shoulders And Upper Back

The kettlebell placement in front of the chest and holding that position will target the shoulder and the upper back musculature. To prevent dropping the kettlebell and maintain an upright torso position, the anterior and medial delts, the trapezius, rhomboids, and spinal erectors will play a significant role.

These upper body muscles will help you retract your shoulder blades and keep your chest tall to ensure proper technique. You’ll feel these muscles firing even if you only hold the weight at the bottom. Now imagine doing squats for reps.


The kettlebell goblet squat targets the hamstrings as well. They are also responsible for hip extension (like the glutes), but their leading role is knee flexion.

This is a four-muscle group:

– Semitendinous 

– Semimembranous 

Biceps femoris (long and short head).

The hamstrings control the squat’s eccentric (lowering) part. The combination of a slow descent plus an explosive concentric phase (going up) is perfect for developing their endurance.

A schema of hamstrings to show what is worked during goblet squats
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The core muscles are responsible for keeping your spine neutral and safe. It’s formed by the rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, internal and external obliques, the diaphragm, multifidus, quadratus lumborum, and others.

Contracting your deep core muscles before engaging in the movement will develop core strength while keeping you in the correct position. The right way to activate these muscles is by inhaling the air towards your diaphragm (think pushing your belly out), contracting them, and releasing the air on your way up.

This will keep your midline stable from the starting position through the full range of motion.

Goblet Squat Variations

The kettlebell goblet squat has multiple variations that meet the demands of a wide variety of people, from beginners to experts to gym-goers and at-home trainers. Some of these variations require a kettlebell, but others require a barbell setup and dumbbells. 

Landmine Goblet Squat

This is a perfect variation to perform with heavy loads while keeping the same position and muscle stimulus. For the landmine goblet squat, you’ll need a barbell, a landmine adapter, or any corner that holds the bar safely while performing the movement.

Before adding the plates, try a few reps with an empty barbell to find a comfortable stance.

This variation will target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes more than the kettlebell goblet squat to the body positioning and the heavyweights.

Dumbbell Goblet Squat 

The dumbbell goblet squat is a perfect variation for those who don’t have kettlebells.

The movement is the same regarding benefits, muscles worked, and technique. Some argue that dumbbells are more accessible to hold than kettlebells, but it all boils down to personal preference.

Med-ball Goblet Squat

In case you want to mix your workout and have fun with an odd object like a medicine ball, then the med-ball goblet squat will do the job.

Although you won’t be able to go heavy, and the ball may slip if there’s too much sweat around, this variation is beginner friendly and can be incorporated in many ways into your training program.

Band Resisted Kettlebell Goblet Squat

The band resisted is an advanced variation of the kettlebell goblet squat. The band will add more resistance to your upper and lower body muscles throughout the entire range of motion.

The starting position is the most challenging part because that’s where the band holds the highest tension.

If your upper body muscles are weak, this variation is not for you since you’ll get a rounded back rather quickly.

Kettlebell Goblet Squat: Muscle Building Workout

This workout will be quick but intense. You’re only going to need a kettlebell and a high pain tolerance. 

We’ll perform two Tabatas (20s ON / 10s OFF) with a 2-minute rest in between. Good luck, and have fun! 

Tabata 1) 8 Rounds of 20s ON / 10s OFF

– Kettlebell Goblet Squat (20 seconds)

– Rest (10 seconds)

– Alternating Kettlebell Lunges (20 seconds)

– Rest (10 seconds)

Pick a challenging weight and repeat this sequence four times.

Tabata 2) 8 Rounds of 20s ON / 10s OFF

Kettlebell Swings

– Rest

– Kettlebell Goblet Squat + Bicep Curl

– Rest

For this second Tabata, the limiting factor for the weight will be the bicep curl portion of the goblet squat, so adjust accordingly.

A woman at the gym doing kettlebell goblet squats
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What Muscles Does A Kettlebell Goblet Squat Work?

The kettlebell goblet squat will work your quadriceps, hamstrings, core, shoulders, and upper back.
If you add intensity, it will also work your heart muscles.

How Do You Pick Up A Kettlebell For A Goblet Squat?

The bottom of the kettlebell should be facing up, while the ring is facing down. Then place the kettlebell between your hands and hold it close to your chest.

Can You Build Muscle With Kettlebell Squats?

Yes, you can! As you progress, start adding weight, and your body will respond with muscle growth over time.Take care of your nutrition and sleep; the kettlebell squats will yield results in due time.


I've been in the world of CrossFit since 2016. Started as a client, later became a coach, and eventually bought an affiliate with two friends from January 2020 to January 2022. In 2018 I won 1st place at a local competition in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. After I sold my shares in January 2022 I moved then to another city to run as the general manager of another affiliate STI CrossFit.

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