You can get a nice workout from goblet squats but you may not like them that much. Discover a few alternatives to goblet squats with similar or better effects.
Goblet squats are a weighted squat variation where you hold a weight, usually a dumbbell or kettlebell, in front of you against your chest.
Some of the benefits of goblet squats include quadricep muscle growth, engagement of your glutes, hamstrings, calves, core muscles, and a few upper body muscles, improved balance, etc.
In simpler words, goblet squats can help you build muscle mass, make you burn a few extra calories, and offer other typical exercise benefits.
Even so, you may not enjoy goblet squats, not have a dumbbell or kettlebell at home or in the gym, want a more knee-friendly alternative, or want an alternative for any other reason.
In any case, the alternatives to goblet squats below can offer you some or all of the same benefits.
1. Other weighted squat variations
While the goblet squat with a dumbbell or kettlebell is a popular weighted squat option, there are plenty of other types of resistance and types of squats you can do.
As an example, take the following steps to do a Zercher squat with a barbell:
- Set up the barbell rack slightly lower than elbow height. Put the desired number of weight plates on the barbell.
- Hold the barbell in the inside of your elbows with folded arms.
- Unrack the barbell and stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width.
- Slowly lower your hips by bending your knees. How far depends on different factors like knee health but at your lowest point you ideally want your hips to be at or lower than your knee height. You will likely have to bend forward for balance but keep your back in a straight line throughout the movement.
- Push yourself up again into starting position by stretching your legs.
Other types of squat equipment include a barbell, resistance bands, a cable machine, smith machine, sandbags, separate weight plates, a heavy backpack, grocery bags, etc.
You can also hold the dumbbells or kettlebells or these other types of weights in different places.
Some examples include on the front of your shoulders, in your hands beside you, on your shoulders, in your hands behind you, overhead, etc.
Most of these goblet squat alternatives will still mainly focus on your leg muscles.
There are however some small differences in the ratio of muscle engagement, how much your core muscles have to work, how challenging they are when it comes to balance, etc.
2. VMO dips
For this next exercise, you want a platform that is slightly elevated, even something like 6 inches (15 cm) works, above the floor. An example of a suited object is a low stepper.
Once you have that, take the following steps to do VMO dips:
- Stand straight up on the edge of the platform, feet full on it, with your toes facing the lower surface.
- Move one foot forward so that it hovers over the edge.
- Fold the knee of your support leg in a controlled motion until your heel of the other foot touches the lower surface.
- Slowly stretch your support leg again.
- Repeat the same number of repetitions with your other leg as the support leg.
The vastus medialis oblique (VMO) is one of your four quadriceps (front upper leg) muscles. If your knee hurts when doing exercises like goblet squats it is possible this particular muscle is not yet strong enough.
This is where VMO dips can help you strengthen the VMO muscle so that over time you can go to goblet squats and other effective leg exercises that require knee folding.
Walking lunges are a great alternative to goblet squats, especially if you make the effort of putting your weight mainly on your front leg. Take the following steps to do two walking lunges:
- Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width.
- Take a big step forward so that you get into a position where both of your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Your front foot should be flat on the ground and your back foot should only touch the ground with the ball of the foot (front).
- Move your back foot forward and get into the same position as step 2 but with your other foot in the front.
One of the benefits of goblet squats is that you are carrying extra weight. This makes it easier to strengthen and grow strong leg muscles.
Lunges can be a good alternative for a similar reason because you put almost double the amount of weight on each leg.
So especially if you have no, or not a lot of, extra weight, lunges can be a good exercise choice for strengthening leg muscles.
Even if you do have extra fitness weights, it is relatively easy to do weighted lunges. You can basically hold any type of weight. Preferably no or one-handed ones so you can still use your arms for balance.
4. Leg presses
The leg press is a weighted resistance exercise that is often done on the leg press machine. Take the following steps to do one seated leg press:
- Adjust the machine for your requirements. Put the desired weight on the dedicated holders of the leg press machine. If you are not sure how much would be right for you, start small and build up from there.
- Take place in the leg press machine. Make sure your feet are flat on the pushing surface and about shoulder-width apart.
- Slowly push up the weight until your legs are slightly less than stretched.
- Lower the weight gain into the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.
Leg presses are a goblet squat alternative that allows you to train your leg muscles without having to use your lower back, other core muscles, erector spinae, and arms too much.
This leg gym machine also makes it so you don’t have to worry about balancing yourself. In turn, leg presses can help you focus more on training your leg muscles which can lead to more leg muscle gain faster.
5. Hip thrusts
Hip thrusts are similar to glute bridges but instead of doing them on the ground, you will need a bench or any other stable object of the right height. Take the following steps to do a hip thrust:
- Sit right in front of the bench or other object you will use with your back slightly over the edge. Make sure the object is stable. Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width in a position where your knees will be at a 90-degree angle in the next step.
- Move up your hips until your body is in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Slowly lower your body again.
One of the most common ways to add extra resistance to hip thrusts is with the help of a barbell but you can also use the dumbbell or kettlebell you normally use to do goblet squats.
Hip thrusts mainly engage your glute, also known as your butt, and hamstring muscles. This makes the hip thrust a good goblet squat alternative if you are mostly interested in strengthening your glutes.