Fitness Tips

Goblet Squat vs. Front Squat – Differences, Which is Better?

Coaches looking to razor-target the quadriceps, incorporate front-loaded squats into their programming. Any front-loaded variation of the squat will primarily recruit the quadriceps and the core.

Two of the commonest variations that you can see in any professional gym or home gym are the front squat and the goblet squat.

While both these exercises hit the same muscle groups, they are quite different in their own ways. A question that we often hear from fitness buffs is, which one of these two exercises is better?

That's what you are going to find out in this article. 


Goblet Squat vs. Front Squat - A Brief Look

Both of these squats are great for working your lower body, but the front squat is more essential for working your anterior chain - 1
Both of these squats are great for working your lower body, but the front squat is more essential for working your anterior chain

The anterior chain or the front side of the body includes the muscles in the front of your thighs, your chest, and your shoulders. Front-loaded squats work these muscles more than any other variation of the squat.


What is the Goblet Squat?

The goblet squat is a front loaded variation with the weight close to your chest

The Goblet Squat is a front-loaded squat variation in which you hold a weight close to your chest. The position of the weight makes this exercise more shoulder-friendly than the front squat.

Goblet Squats can be performed with kettlebells or inexpensive dumbbells, making them an excellent choice for people who are new to lifting weights. 

If you are beginner then starting with the dumbbells bought from reliable store is the first thing you should do.


What Is the Front Squat?

With the front squat you hold the barbell in front of the chest and is better left to advanced lifters

The term 'Front Squat' is generally associated with a variation in which you hold a barbell in front of your chest, resting it on your clavicles and deltoids.

This position can be quite uncomfortable for some people and may even lead to shoulder pain. This is why the front squat is considered an advanced move which requires a fair bit of mobility and flexibility.


How to Perform a Goblet Squat

The goblet is easier to learn and perform than the front squat

A Goblet squat is a reasonably easier exercise to learn as compared to the front squat. All you need to do is, hold a weight close to your chest and squat down till your thighs are parallel to the ground.

Step 1: Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than your hip-width apart.

Step 2: Grab a single dumbbell or a kettlebell close to your chest, at the center of your body. You can use any grip that you feel comfortable with.

Step 3: Keep your shoulders back and your core engaged.

Step 4: Initiate the squat by sitting back and down, hinging at the waist and pushing your knees out.

Step 5: Continue squatting down till your thighs are parallel to the ground or until your elbows touch your knees.


How to Do the Front Squat

The front squat is slightly advanced and requires better mobility and flexibility to pull it off

As we mentioned, the front squat is an advanced exercise, and you will need a certain level of mobility and flexibility to be able to perform it correctly.

That said, here's a step-by-step guide on how to do the front squat:

Step 1: Start by setting up a barbell in a rack at about shoulder level.

Step 2: Step under the bar and position it across the front of your shoulders.

Step 3: Take a grip that is just outside shoulder width.

Step 4: Unrack the bar and step backward, setting yourself up in a stance that is just wider than hip-width. The bar should rest across the front of your shoulders, on your clavicles and deltoids.

Step 5: Brace your core and keep your chest up.

Step 6: Keeping your core engaged, start squatting down by sitting back and pushing your knees out.

Step 7: Continue squatting down till your thighs are parallel to the ground, or until your elbows touch your knees.


Goblet Squat vs. Front Squat: What Are the Differences?

Despite looking similar and targeting the same muscles, the goblet squat and the front squat are very different exercises
Despite looking similar and targeting the same muscles, the goblet squat and the front squat are very different exercises - 1

Different squat exercises like sumo squat, goblet squat, shrimp squat, landmine squat or front squat target same muscle groups but there still are wide differences among them. Let's take a look at some of the key differences between these front squat and goblet squat:


The Position of The Weight

Among the many differences between these two exercises is the position of the weight

One of the main differences between the front squat and goblet squat is the position of the weight. In the front squat, the weight is positioned in front of your body, typically resting on your shoulders. This position can be challenging for some people to maintain, as it takes a lot of core strength to keep the weight from toppling over.

In the goblet squat, the weight is held in front of your chest, in between your palms. This position is much easier to maintain, and is a great option for those who are new to squatting with weight. 


The Range of Motion

Another great thing about the goblet squat is that it has a shorter range of motion

Another key difference between the front squat and goblet squat is the range of motion.

In the front squat, your knees will track over your toes, and you'll likely have to move your hips back further in order to maintain balance. This means that your range of motion will be greater in the front squat.

The goblet squat, on the other hand, is a bit more forgiving when it comes to form. Because the weight is held in front of your body, it's easier to keep your chest up and your back straight. This allows you to keep your knees closer to your toes, and results in a shorter range of motion.


Mobility

With the front squat you will need more mobility compared to the goblet squat

The front squat requires a bit more mobility than the goblet squat. In order to effectively perform the front squat, you'll need to have good shoulder and hip mobility. Don’t forget the wrist! This can be a challenge for some people, and may not be the best option if you're new to squatting.

The goblet squat is a bit more forgiving when it comes to mobility. Because the weight is positioned in front of your body, you don't need to have as much shoulder or hip mobility. This makes the goblet squat a great option for those who are new to squatting, or who have limited mobility.


Accessibility

The goblet squat is also more accessible than the front squat

The Goblet squat is a very accessible exercise, as it can be performed with a wide range of weights (including your own bodyweight). The Front squat, on the other hand, requires equipment.

In order to perform a front squat, you'll need access to a barbell and a sturdy and affordable squat rack (like this one). This makes the front squat a less accessible exercise for those who don't have access to a gym or weights.


Which of The Two Exercises Build Bigger Squats?

If you are looking to build bigger gains, go with the front squat as it allows you to load more weight

Both these exercises are included in fitness routines for different reasons. But when it comes to building bigger squats, the front squat holds the edge. Here's why.

The front squat allows you to load more weight on the bar, which in turn allows you to challenge your muscles more. This is because the position of the weight in the front squat allows for a more stable base of support.

The goblet squat is undoubtedly a great exercise for building lower body strength. But because you can't load as much weight, it's not as effective in building bigger squats.


Which One Works More Muscles?

The front squat wins this goblet squat vs. front squat bout when it comes to building more muscles

This is where things get interesting. Both these exercises look similar to one another and even offer overlapping benefits. But when it comes to muscle group recruitment, there are several small differences in the two.

The front squat is a more quad-dominant exercise, which means it targets your quadriceps more than any other muscle group. But it also engages the upper back and core to a greater extent than the goblet squat.

That's due to the posture that you need to maintain while performing the front squat. In order to keep the barbell in position, you have to engage your upper back and core muscles to a greater extent.

The goblet squat, on the other hand, is a more hip-dominant exercise. This means it does not target the upper back or the core as much as the front squat does.


Muscles Worked by The Goblet Squat

The goblet squat works several muscles like quads, hamstrings, erector spinae and adductor magnus

Here's a look at the primary muscles worked by the goblet squat:

Quadriceps 

The goblet squat is a great exercise for targeting the quadriceps, which are the large muscles on the front of your thighs.

Hamstrings

The hamstrings are the large muscles on the back of your thighs. While they're not the primary target of the front squat, they still receive a good amount of work.

Adductor Magnus

The adductor magnus is a large muscle located on the inside of your thighs. This muscle is worked to a greater extent in the goblet squat than in the front squat.

Erector Spinae

The erector spinae is a group of muscles that runs along your spine. This muscle group is engaged to a greater extent in the goblet squat than in the front squat.


Muscles Worked by The Front Squat

The front squat works several muscles like quads, core, hamstrings and the upper back

Here's a look at the primary muscles worked by the front squat:

Quadriceps

As with the goblet squat, the quadriceps are the primary target of the front squat. It's also an excellent exercise for building quad strength, which explains why it is a staple in many strength and powerlifting programs. If you're beginner then starting with the leg extension or its alternatives is the best thing you can do.

Hamstrings

The front squat also works the hamstrings, though to a lesser degree than the goblet squat. This is because the hamstrings are in a stretched position when you are in the bottom of the front squat, which limits their involvement.

Core

The position of your torso is vital for maintaining balance in the front squat. This means that your core muscles have to work hard to keep you stable, particularly when you are lifting a heavy barbell.

Upper back

The front squat is also a good exercise for building upper back strength and stability. This is because you must keep the barbell in position on your front shoulders, which requires a lot of muscle control.


Goblet Squat vs. Front Squat: Which is harder?

The front squat is considered to be more difficult as it requres more balance since the bar is in the front

The front squat is generally considered to be a more difficult exercise than the goblet squat, simply because it is a more challenging lift. This is due to the fact that you have to maintain balance with a barbell on your front shoulders, which can be difficult for some people.

Additionally, the front squat requires more quadriceps strength than the goblet squat, making it a good choice for people who want to focus on building quadriceps strength.

While the front squat is a more difficult exercise, the goblet squat can also be challenging, particularly if you are using a heavy weight. Ultimately, the exercise that is harder for you will depend on your level of strength, stamina and endurance.


Which to Do for Gaining Strength & Flexibility?

Each of these exercises helps with something here, with the front squat giving you more strength while the goblet squat gives you more flexibility

The answer we believe lies in the question itself. You are looking to gain strength and flexibility. The front squat will undoubtedly help with the former, as it is a compound movement that activates multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

The goblet squat, on the other hand, is an excellent choice for those who want to improve their flexibility. This is because the position of the weight allows you to sink deeply into the squat while maintaining a tall posture. This can help to loosen up your hips and improve your range of motion.


Which Is Better for Building Muscles?

Both of these workouts do help build muscle, but they each target different muscle groups and you have to put in the work

Muscle building takes time, consistency and patience. There is no exercise that will magically build muscle overnight. That being said, both the front squat and goblet squat can be effective exercises for building muscle.

The front squat is a compound movement that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, core and upper back. This makes it a slightly better pick for those who want to focus on building muscle.

The goblet squat, while it also works multiple muscle groups, is a bit more forgiving on the joints and may be a better option for those who are new to strength training. It is also a good choice for people who want to focus on building quadriceps strength.


Do You Need to Do Both Goblet Squats and Front Squats?

You don't have to do both goblet squats and front squats, you can pick the one that best suits your goals

No you don’t. Both these exercises are fundamental choices for targeting the anterior chain, and as a result, will work many of the same muscle groups. If you are short on time or are looking to focus on a specific area, then choose the exercise that is most appropriate for your goals.

The front squat is a more challenging exercise than the goblet squat, but both can be effective for building muscle and improving strength. Ultimately, the choice of which exercise to do will come down to your individual goals and preferences.


FAQs

Here are some more answers to your questions about the front squat and goblet squat

Here are a few common questions answered.

Q. What Is the Front Squat Good For?

A. The front squat is a compound movement that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, core and upper back. This makes it a slightly better pick for those who want to focus on building muscle.

Q. What Does the Goblet Squat Work?

A. The goblet squat works multiple muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, adductor magnus and core.

Q. Are Goblet Squats Better than Regular Squats?

A. Regular squats, in which you load a weighted barbell across your back, work more muscles than goblet squats, in which you hold a dumbbell at chest level. They are considered one of the most effective exercises for building lower-body strength.

Q. Are Goblet Squats as Effective as Barbell Squats?

A. Goblet squats are a great exercise for beginners and can be used to progress to more challenging variations, such as front squats. They are also a good option if you don't have access to a barbell or other equipment.

But if it boils down to pure effectiveness, regular squats are superior to goblet squats, thanks to the greater range of motion and muscle recruitment.

Q. Which Is Better, Front Squat or Back Squat?

A. The front squat is a great exercise for those who are looking to build lower-body strength and improve their Olympic lifting technique. The regular back squat is a better overall muscle builder, however, since it allows you to load more weight and targets the glutes and hamstrings to a greater extent.

Related Readings:

References:

  1. https://www.coachmag.co.uk/leg-exercises/3501/front-squat-the-best-exercise-you-aren-t-doing
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/dumbbell-goblet-squat

Ben Mayz

Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at Fitlifefanatics.com. I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 16 years now. My passion for living a happy fit lifestyle is what made me realize that fitness is what I wanted for my future. I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics. My passion for Strength training & fitness and my love of helping others is what made me start Fitlifefanatics. Here, myself, and a team of specialist aim to provide the most accurate, and actionable information possible in hopes to help foster the fitness community forward. You can learn more about Fitlifefanatics on our About Page