I first learned about this popular squat variation over a decade ago when I was attending a kettlebell training seminar for continuing education credits as a Certified Personal Trainer.
Since then, I often incorporate goblet squats into the workout routines I prepare for athletes of all fitness levels because I have found that the movement pattern is a little easier for beginners to master who might not have a background in proper squat technique.
Plus, for advanced athletes, goblet squats offer advantages in the muscles strengthened by goblet squats vs back squats or front squats, and adding variety into any strength training routine is always a good idea.1Slater, L. V., & Hart, J. M. (2017). Muscle Activation Patterns During Different Squat Techniques. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(3), 667–676. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000001323
That said, it’s important to choose the appropriate number of reps and weight for goblet squats that best serve the individual’s needs and goals.
Putting together your gym workouts, you may ask yourself, how many goblet squats should I do to build muscle? How many goblet squats should I do as a beginner? What is the best load for goblet squats workouts for strength vs hypertrophy?
In this guide, we will discuss how to do goblet squats for leg workouts, a good goblet squat weight to use, variations or alternatives to add to your workouts, and ultimately answer your question, how many goblet squats should I do based on my fitness goals?
Let’s dive in!
How Do You Do Goblet Squats?
Before we discuss how many goblet squats you should do per workout depending on your fitness goals and level, let’s review how to perform goblet squats.
Although you can perform goblet squats with training implements other than kettlebells, I find that the shape of the kettlebell lends itself well to facilitating optimal ergonomics for the goblet squat.
If you do not have access to kettlebells, you can certainly use a single dumbbell (held upright with both hands on the handle stacked on top of one another), medicine ball, or other form of resistance you have available to you.Here are the steps for how to do goblet squats:
How To Perform A Goblet Squat
- Hold either side of the kettlebell handle in each hand, pressing your forearms into the bell to secure it in place as you squat. The handle of the kettlebell should be just under chin level. Bend your elbows so that the kettlebell is tucked in towards your body without touching it.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forward (or the slightest bit outward).
- Bracing your core and keeping your chest up, bend your knees and sit your hips back to squat down as low as possible. Drop down until your hips are at least parallel to your knees (ideally below). Keep your elbows to the inside of either knee at the bottom of the squat. Keep your feet flat on the floor (don’t come up onto your toes).
- Squeeze your glutes, hamstrings, and quads as you press through your heels to stand back up.
How Many Goblet Squats Should I Do To See Good Results?
The number of reps of an exercise that you do—be it goblet squats or any other movement—is only one part of the programming of the exercise into the workout.2Mangine, G. T., Hoffman, J. R., Gonzalez, A. M., Townsend, J. R., Wells, A. J., Jajtner, A. R., Beyer, K. S., Boone, C. H., Miramonti, A. A., Wang, R., LaMonica, M. B., Fukuda, D. H., Ratamess, N. A., & Stout, J. R. (2015). The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men. Physiological Reports, 3(8), e12472. https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.12472
Therefore, it is not as straightforward as giving a specific number of goblet squats reps to do for strength vs hypertrophy vs reps of goblet squats for muscle endurance.
We also need to consider the number of sets of goblet squats that you perform and the weight for goblet squats that you are using to determine the overall training load for the exercise.
As a brief review, the reps of an exercise refers to the number of repetitions of the exercise you do.
So, for example, one rep of the goblet squat exercise involves starting in the upright standing position, squatting down with the weight, and then pressing through your heels to return to the standing position.
A set of an exercise is the total number of repetitions that are performed back to back without stopping and resting.
So, if you perform eight reps of goblet squats back to back, then put down the weight and take a 2-minute break, and then do eight more goblet squats in a row, you have performed two sets of eight reps of goblet squats.
Lastly, the load for goblet squats refers to the weight that you are using relative to the maximum amount of weight you could possibly lift with proper technique for one repetition of the goblet squat exercise.
This load is known as the one-rep max or 1RM.
How Many Goblet Squats Should You Do Based On Your Goals?
There are several factors to consider when deciding how many goblet squats reps you should do.
#1: Your Fitness Level
Beginners are advised to do fewer sets of an exercise and use lighter relative loads so that they first master the proper movement mechanics and do not overload the muscles too much too quickly.
You need to give your body time to adapt to strength training and give your neuromuscular system time to become more adept at how to perform goblet squats properly.
#2: How Much Weight You Are Lifting
The number of reps of goblet squats that you can and should do in a set or overall goblet squats workout will be largely dependent on how much weight you are lifting with the exercise.
Here, it is important to distinguish that the amount of weight that you are lifting refers to the relative load or intensity of the weight you are using for you personally, as discussed above.
There is a big difference in holding a 4-kilogram kettlebell vs a 20-kilogram kettlebell for goblet squats for a given individual.
In other words, if the person can handle a 20 kg kettlebell for goblet squats with proper technique, holding onto a 4 kg kettlebell will be a relative walk in the park.
The 4-kg weight is unlikely to be a heavy enough weight for goblet squats to elicit improvements in strength, muscle mass, or potentially even muscle endurance, depending on how many goblet squats reps are performed in the workout.
This is why we use relative load when choosing how much weight to use for goblet squats or any strength training exercise.
Again, the goblet squat weight that you will need to use based on your training goal and the number of reps of goblet squats you will perform with the given weight is based on your 1RM for goblet squats.
For example, if you can use a 25-kg kettlebell for one goblet squat rep, but you would not be able to perform more goblet squat reps with that weight using the full range of motion and proper technique, your goblet squats 1RM is 25 kgs.
Then, if you are using a 20-kg kettlebell in your goblet squats workout, you are lifting 80% of your 1RM.
The strength continuum provides a quantitative framework by which the appropriate load to lift can be determined based on the number of reps that you are performing.
According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the following table shows the percentage of your 1RM you should use for the given number of reps of an exercise:3TRAINING LOAD CHART. (n.d.). https://www.nsca.com/contentassets/61d813865e264c6e852cadfe247eae52/nsca_training_load_chart.pdf
|Maximum Number of Reps||Percent of 1RM Load|
To interpret this strength continuum, look at the number of reps of an exercise that you want to do and then determine the relative load that you should use in the column next to your desired number of reps.
For example, if you want to do 12 reps of goblet squats, the recommended load is 70% of your 1RM while if you are only doing six reps, you should use 85% of your 1RM.
#3: Your Fitness Goals
Aside from your training level, your primary training goal is the other key factor that will affect how many goblet squats you should do.
This is where we return to the concept of the strength continuum to choose the right weight for goblet squats and then mesh that into the context of your primary strength training goal.
The following table provides recommendations for how many reps to do and how much weight to lift for different strength training goals based on the average guidelines from the American Council on Exercise (ACE)4How Many Reps Should You Be Doing? (n.d.). Www.acefitness.org. https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/5867/how-many-reps-should-you-be-doing/and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. 5Sands, W., Wurth, J., & Hewit, J. (2012). The National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) BASICS OF STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING MANUAL. https://www.nsca.com/contentassets/116c55d64e1343d2b264e05aaf158a91/basics_of_strength_and_conditioning_manual.pdf
|Training Goal||Sets||Reps||Rest Period||Intensity|
|General Fitness||1-3||12-15||30 to 90 seconds||Varies on exercise and ability level|
|Muscular Endurance||3-4||>12||Up to 30 seconds||<67% of 1RM|
|Hypertrophy (building muscle mass)||3-6||6-12||30 to 90 seconds||67% to 85% of 1RM|
|Muscle strength||4-6||3-6||2 to 5 minutes||>85% of 1RM|
|Power||3-5||1-5||2 to 5 minutes||85%–100% of 1RM|
From here, you can use the strength continuum table to determine how much weight you should be lifting after you determine how many reps of the exercise you should do based on your training goals.
If you are mostly interested in how many goblet squats you should do to build muscle, check out our muscle-building guide here.
- 1Slater, L. V., & Hart, J. M. (2017). Muscle Activation Patterns During Different Squat Techniques. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(3), 667–676. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000001323
- 2Mangine, G. T., Hoffman, J. R., Gonzalez, A. M., Townsend, J. R., Wells, A. J., Jajtner, A. R., Beyer, K. S., Boone, C. H., Miramonti, A. A., Wang, R., LaMonica, M. B., Fukuda, D. H., Ratamess, N. A., & Stout, J. R. (2015). The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men. Physiological Reports, 3(8), e12472. https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.12472
- 3TRAINING LOAD CHART. (n.d.). https://www.nsca.com/contentassets/61d813865e264c6e852cadfe247eae52/nsca_training_load_chart.pdf
- 4How Many Reps Should You Be Doing? (n.d.). Www.acefitness.org. https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/5867/how-many-reps-should-you-be-doing/
- 5Sands, W., Wurth, J., & Hewit, J. (2012). The National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) BASICS OF STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING MANUAL. https://www.nsca.com/contentassets/116c55d64e1343d2b264e05aaf158a91/basics_of_strength_and_conditioning_manual.pdf