5 Weeks to Goblet Squat Dominance

TAGS: BFR, Dr. John Rusin, Eric Bach, Mark Dugdale, goblet squat, programming, program, squat, Video

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Weightlifting often seems akin to political disputes — hard lines, refusal to listen, failure to compromise — all hallmarks of the American political scene. Just watch the news. Accordingly, I struggled including the word “goblet” in the article title. Hardcore barbell purists might write this five-week program off — their loss.

Goblet squats hit the entire body due to the way the weight is held. Not a bad thing, but maximal weight pales in comparison to traditional barbell squats. Goblet squats are simply a different animal altogether, having been quoted as a great training exercise for beginners to learn proper squat mechanics. Therein lies the key: squat mechanics.


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Goblet squats improve squat mechanics. Master and perfect it, and you’ll improve your platform performance. Beyond that, it improves core strength, hip mobility, and is easier on the lower back. Still think it's a wimpy exercise? Do this for five weeks, and you’ll change your mind.

Week 1: BFR Goblet Squats

Note: Begin with a hamstring exercise, ideally lying or seated leg curls, to work both the hamstrings and warm up. In fact, start every leg workout for the next five weeks with a hamstring exercise. Between hamstring sets, drop down to the bottom of the squat position and hold for 20 seconds to loosen up your hips.

I have a soft spot for the unseasoned lifter; we were all beginners at one point. Consider Week 1 your initiation. If you’re a veteran, then enjoy the calm before the storm.

Did you know Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training is often prescribed to the elderly because the technique works with lighter weight? How about that 19 Norwegian national-level powerlifters added 12 percent quad growth in two weeks using BFR? Both are true, but the lighter weight aspect drives my decision to program BFR Goblet Squats on Week 1.

Learn the squat pattern and enjoy the burn associated with blood flow restriction. If unfamiliar with the technique, use a pair of elitefts Normal Knee Wraps and wrap your upper thigh at about 70 percent of the tension applied when wrapping your knees.

Apply wraps to your upper thigh and alternate between leg extensions and goblet squats (heels elevated) until you’ve done each exercise twice. Target eight reps on each and use a dumbbell for goblet squats that’s about 25 to 30 percent of your body weight. Remove the wraps and rest for three minutes. Re-apply the wraps and repeat one more round.

Here is a video:

Alternating BFR Extensions and Goblet Squats

Remove the wraps and rest three minutes. Re-apply wraps, increase weight, and finish by alternating with your training partner for four sets of ten reps before removing the wraps and calling it a day.

Here is a video:

Partner Alternating BFR

Week 2: V Rep Pattern

Note: Follow the note regarding hamstrings and deep squat stretches from Week 1. Continue to do this every week moving forward.

Last week, we stayed with lighter weight and Blood Flow Restriction. This week, you’ll bump up the volume with a high-to-low, low-to-high rep sequence utilizing ascending and descending weights. Target 50 percent of your body weight for the top-end weight. I also want you to continue elevating your heels this week.

Example:

  • Set 1 x 25 reps with 30lbs
  • Set 2 x 20 reps with 50lbs
  • Set 3 x 15 reps with 70lbs
  • Set 4 x 10 reps with 90lbs
  • Set 5 x 5 reps with 110lbs
  • Set 6 x 5 reps with 110lbs
  • Set 7 x 10 reps with 90lbs
  • Set 8 x 15 reps with 70lbs
  • Set 9 x 20 reps with 50lbs
  • Set 10 x 25 reps with 30lbs

Add on one more set and bookend it with 15-second isoholds as your finisher. Twenty percent of your body weight is all you will need for this finisher; trust me!

Here is a video:

Goblet Squat Isohold Finisher

Week 3: Challenge Week

At this point, you should have experienced an improvement in squat mechanics. From here on out, switch back to a flat foot squat stance; no more elevated heels.

Week 3 is all about the challenges from two strength and conditioning experts: Dr. John Rusin and Eric Bach.

After your normal hamstring training and squat stretches, perform about three to four warm-up or feeder sets to get to your working weight — half of your body weight.

The Dr. Rusin Squat Challenge is to perform a single set of 25 goblet squat reps with 50 percent of your body weight.

Here is a video:

Dr. John Rusin Goblet Squat Challenge

Take plenty of time to rest before moving to the next challenge, which is attributable to Eric Bach. It’s similar to the Goblet Squat Isohold Finisher from last week but only includes the starting isohold while aiming for a weight equal to 35 to 40 percent of your body weight.

The Bach Challenge is prescribed as a 15-second isohold near the bottom of the squat immediately followed by 15 full-range reps.

Aim to complete this challenge twice if you’re new to lifting or three times if you’re advanced and well-conditioned.

Here is a video:

Eric Bach Goblet Squat Challenge

Week 4: Maximal Weight

We’ve restricted blood flow for a nasty pump, run a broad rep range, and challenged ourselves by selecting dumbbells as a percentage of our body weight.

This week, we’ll focus on maximal weight in the eight to ten rep range. The idea is to simply pyramid up in weight, performing sets of eight to ten reps. Take moderate jumps in weight so you get in a solid five to six working sets.

In my case, the heaviest dumbbells available were 150 pounds. While difficult to hold, I set the dumbbell on top of another to begin the movement and was able to achieve three sets of ten reps.

Here is a video:

Heavy Straight Set

Week 5: Death Drop Set

Blood flow, wide rep range, challenges, maximal weight, and now we’ve come to the final week.

As the name implies, this week is all about dropping weight to extend the set, and it will feel like death from a cardiovascular perspective. Don’t slack! Rest knowing this is the last week of this five-week program and now is the time to put it all on the line.

Start with a dumbbell weighing 50 percent of your body weight and lower it by 25 percent on each drop. Go non-stop for five sets/four drops. The goal is five sets of fifteen reps.

My cardiovascular capacity gave out, and I dropped to sets of 10 reps after the first two. This was brutal. It looked something like this:

  • 110lbs x 15
  • 80lbs x 15
  • 60lbs x 10
  • 45lbs x 10
  • Body weight x 10

Here is a video:

Goblet Squat Death Drop Set

If you are new to lifting, do one death drop set and you’ll be done for the day. Otherwise, rest for about four to five minutes and go a second time aiming for set for eight to ten reps on each drop.

Conclusion

I’m guessing anyone quick to write off goblet squats will change their mind upon completing this five-week program. It’s not for weak-willed individuals.

Expect to see an improvement in your squat form, cardiovascular capacity, and bigger numbers when you go back to traditional barbell squats. Goblet squats help prevent injury and reduce spinal compression while hammering your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.

I hope you gained valuable tools and insight, despite cursing me a few times on your way to goblet squat dominance.

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