ARE YOU INTIMIDATED by the prospect of hitting the squat rack? Hoisting a heavy loaded barbell across your shoulders, then trying to drop down and stand back up under the weight? You're not alone.
Heavy barbell back squatting—which is what most people think of when they hear the word "squat" in a strength training setting—can daunting, especially if you're new to the gym scene and don't exactly understand where to start. But don't let that discourage you. If you take the right approach, you can still get a great leg workout without stepping under a heavy barbell. There's more than one way to squat.
David Otey, C.S.C.S. and creator of the Beginner's Guide to Muscle program for Men's Health MVP, recommends that you start with the goblet squat exercise when you're just starting out on your fitness journey. His reasoning is simple and practical: The goblet squat gives you a whole bunch of options the standard barbell variations do not.
Here are his three top reasons why you should start with goblet squats.
3 Reasons Goblet Squats Are Great for Beginners
Goblet Squats Work with Any Load
Unlike barbell squats, which are defined by the implements used to hold the weight, goblet squats are much more variable. You can use dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates—if you can hold it in front of you, if can serve as a load. That's important, especially for beginners, because you won't be restricted to a squat rack in order to add the movement to your workouts. You can work with lighter weights if you need, or you can level-up to heavier loads.
The Goblet Squat's Front Loaded Position Is Important for Posture
Holding the weight in front of your body forces you to engage your core to sit upright. This is a critical skill to master, especially when moving under a heavy load. "Specifically with squats, we want to make sure that the midsection and your entire spinal region is nice in place and strong, so you can just worry about descending into the squat," says Otey.
The Goblet Squat Is a Smooth Descent
The position of the weight in this exercise naturally encourages proper squat depth. You'll descend lower and smoother than you typically would with barbell squats, according to Otey.
How to Do the Goblet Squat
Here's how to execute the goblet squat effectively:
Take a comfortable stance and grab your weight, holding it in front of your chest with both hands. Squeeze your shoulder blades to create mid-back tension to help support the load.
Before you descend into the squat, take a deep breath and brace your core. This will help you to avoid tipping too far forward.
Push your butt back, then bend your knees to squat down as low as you comfortably can while maintaining the proper upright posture. Push your knees out and keep your core engaged; don't rest your elbows on your knees.
Press off the floor with both feet to stand back up, squeezing your glutes and exhaling at the top.
If you want to perfect your squat technique, the goblet squat is the first place to start. The exercise demands that you move with purpose, providing an excellent opportunity to take your workouts to the next level.
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