If you want to boost lower body strength and power, look no further than the squat. The classic exercise hits just about every muscle below your waist, which is why you’ll find it on just about every trainer’s hit list. But as with any exercise, you’ll occasionally want to switch things up to prevent your muscles from becoming too accustomed to a specific movement pattern (and stop growing as a result). That’s where the goblet variation on this page comes in — by moving the load from your upper back (à la the barbell back squat) to the center of your chest, you’ll increase muscle activation throughout your core. You’ll also be able to stay more upright as you lower your body, minimizing the strain on your knees and back. Follow along with Maricris in the video below as she demonstrates perfect form.
Muscles targeted: Quads and glutes.
How to do it: Grab a dumbbell and hold it vertically in front of your chest, cupping the top end in both hands (imagine it’s a heavy goblet). Set your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back flat and elbows pointed down, push your hips back and lower your body until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground (your elbows should touch the insides of your knees). Pause, and then slowly push yourself back up to the starting position.
Make it easier: Use a lighter weight, or only lower your body as far as you comfortably can with good form.
Make it harder: Use a heavier weight, pause for longer at the bottom of the move, or do a goblet shooter squat. Begin in the same stance as a regular goblet squat, and lower yourself until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor with your elbows touching the insides of your knees. Now rotate to your right, dropping your left knee to the floor, and then stand up in a right-facing staggered stance. Reverse the move, lowering your body, rotating back to center, and then standing up to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat the entire sequence, this time rotating to your left. Continue alternating sides.
Bonus tip: As you lower your body actively press your ankles, lower legs, and thighs outward (but don’t move your feet). Doing so will enhance stability and increase muscle tension and activation throughout your legs.