Goblet Squat vs Sumo Squat – The Revenge!

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As hard and painful squats may be at times, you can’t help but love the names of some of the most popular non-barbell squat variations. 

Goblet squat..sumo squat..

Yeah, there is just something about imagining holding a medieval drinking device or giant Japanese wrestlers that just makes squatting more…appealing.

However, which of these two variations is the “better” option?

Our goblet squat vs sumo squat showdown will include a look at the benefits of each exercise as well as instructions on how to perform them. I’m not sure how we’re going to make a sumo wrestler and a metal cup do combat, but if you stick around, I promise we’ll try to come up with something!

goblet squat vs sumo squat

What Is A Goblet Squat?

The goblet squat is a squat variation where you hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of your chest (like a giant goblet). During the exercise, the feet are usually positioned between hip and shoulder-width apart.

Compared to a back squat, the goblet squat is easier to learn. It is also easier to perform goblet squats without making common beginner mistakes such as leaning too far forward or caving your knees inward.

How to Perform a Goblet Squat?

The goblet squat is a pretty straightforward movement:

  1. Choose a kettlebell or a dumbbell weight in line with your strength and fitness levels. If you are a beginner, start with lighter weights and slowly progress to heavier hardware.
  2. Place your hands on the bottom of the kettlebelll. You can also hold it by each side of the handle. If you are lifting a dumbbell, hold it vertically with both hands underneath the top.
  3. Position the kettlebell or a dumbbell close to your chest and keep it that way throughout the movement. Place your feet between hip and shoulder-width apart. Your knees and toes should point straight.
  4. Sit back in your hips and start your descent. Keep your torso upright and engage your core. Resist lifting your heels during the exercise.
  5. Squat down until you hit parallel, and then return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat according to prescribed rep range.

Goblet Squat Variations

There are a couple of goblet squat variations you can try:

  • Box Goblet Squat: squatting down to a box and making light contact before rising back up; helps with training the proper squat mechanics
  • Heels-Elevated Goblet Squat: a goblet squat with heels elevated on a weight plate; reduces the stress in the ankles and calves
  • Resistance Band Goblet Squat: adding a resistance band around the thighs and above the knees; substitute for heavier weights
  • Goblet Jump Squat: propelling the body upwards after the bottom position; increases explosive power
  • Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Goblet Squat: holding the kettlebell upside down; challenges stability and works the upper body more

What Is A Sumo Squat?

The sumo squat is a squat variation done with feet placed wider than shoulder-width apart, pointing slightly outwards, and toes and knees pointing in the same direction. “Sumo” refers to a wide stance that can be used in other exercises too such as sumo deadlift. The word comes from the Japanese style of wrestling, Sumo, which includes a similar wide stance.

In weightlifting, the sumo squat is usually performed with a dumbbell, or kettlebell (or, in some occasions, with a barbell). Compared to a traditional barbell squat, the sumo squat activates the inner thigh muscles more and improves hip mobility.

How to Perform a Sumo Squat?

Sumo squats can be done as a standalone workout with your body weight or with a dumbbell, kettlebell, or barbell. To perform this exercise with a barbell:

  1. Take a barbell from the rack, grabbing it slightly wider than shoulder-width. The barbell should be placed on your traps. Engage the core and keep the shoulders pulled down and back.
  2. Take a wide stance (wider than the regular squat). Your feet should be more than shoulder-width apart. The toes should point outwards, as well as the knees.
  3. Push your hips back and squat. Your thighs should end up parallel to the floor. Make sure you are not rounding your lower back, your chest and head are up and you are looking forward.
  4. Push your feet to the floor and stand up, keeping a wide stance.

If you are doing the sumo squat with a kettlebell, grip the kettlebell firmly with your arms straight and perform the squat as explained above. If you are doing it with a dumbbell, hold it vertically with both hands underneath the top.

Sumo Squat Variations

Besides changing the type of weights, you can try a couple of other variations of a sumo squat:

  • Sumo Squat with Heel Raise: elevate your heels off the floor with small weight plates
  • Sumo Squat Jump: explosively jump upwards out of the bottom position and land back into the sumo squat
  • Elevated Sumo Squat: elevate yourself onto boxes, benches, plastic risers, or weighted plates and perform the sumo squat with a kettlebell or a dumbbell
  • Sumo Squat With a Resistance Band: perform a sumo squat with a resistance band placed around the thighs above your knees

Goblet Squat vs Sumo Squat: The Showdown!

We’ve looked at the mechanics and benefits of each exercise, but what are the exact differences between the two when it comes to how they affect the body?

Goblet Squat vs Sumo Squat – Muscles Worked

Both types of squats focus on lower body development, but, essentially, they’re full body exercises.


Goblet squats work the:

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Abductors and adductors
  • Core muscles
  • Erector spinae 
  • Biceps and triceps 
  • Deltoids
  • Rhomboids 
  • Trapezius

Sumo squats primarily work the:

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Gluteus maximus 
  • Abductors and adductors
  • Core
  • Erector spinae
  • Trapezius
  • Rhomboids 

Ultimately, both exercises work similar muscle groups and primarily target your lower body and core, as squats usually do. However, each exercise works some muscles more directly than others.

Goblet squat works the quads, glutes, and hamstrings equally, and additionally the muscles of the arms, shoulders, and upper back. On the other hand, because of the wider stance, sumo squats focus more on the glutes, abductors, and adductors. They also can target upper body muscles in the same way as goblet squats if you do perform them with kettlebells or dumbbells.


Technically, the goblet squat and sumo squat can be incorporated into a single exercise because the goblet squat mainly refers to the way you are holding the weight. You can perform a “sumo goblet squat” and get the best of both worlds!

We’ll call this one a draw

Goblet Squat vs Sumo Squat – Strength Gainz

Both exercises are great for building strength and growing muscle. However, with goblet squats, you are limited to kettlebells and dumbbells, while sumo squats can be performed with barbells. As such, with sumo squats you have more options to use challenging weights than you can with goblet squats.

Point- sumo squat

Goblet Squat vs Sumo Squat – Progression

As previously mentioned, progression with goblet squats is limited to the amount of weight you can actually hold in front of you. Plus, dumbbells and kettlebells can only be so heavy (I mean, unless you want to splurge on the 125-pound dumbbells or the 203-pound kettlebells!). Even Furious Pete’s dumbbell (assuming you could lift it) won’t match the potential weight you can use in a barbell sumo squat. Squatting with a barbell allows you to lift more weight than any kettlebell or a dumbbell ever will.

That means there is a limit to growing strength with goblet squats. Of course, there is a limit with sumo squats too, but their ceiling is much higher.


Another point for sumo squats

Goblet Squat vs Sumo Squats – Benefits

Each exercise has its own unique benefits. Let’s go through each of them.

Benefits Of Goblet Squats

  • Less stress on the spine and lower back: Squats can be tough on the lower back because of the forward lean some variations these exercises require. However, goblet squats are done with a more upright torso, which places less stress on the lower back.
  • Beginner-friendly: If we compare them to front and back barbell squats, goblet squats are easier to learn and perform. They involve lighter weights than a standard barbell, so it’s a great starting squat exercise for beginners.
  • Great for developing a proper squatting technique: The goblet squat is safer and easier to learn than some of the other squats, so it’s a great starting point for mastering a proper squatting technique. It makes you keep your torso upright and keep your knees out, which is essential for safe and effective squatting.
  • Don’t require special equipment: If you don’t have a kettlebell or a dumbbell, you can still do goblet squats with other more accessible weights such as medicine balls or light sandbags.

Benefits of Sumo Squats

  • Targets the inner thighs: Sumo squats target the adductors or inner thigh muscles in a way other types of squats don’t. If you want to work specifically on this muscle group, few other exercises are as effective.
  • Easier to keep heels on the floor: Because of the wide stance that takes tension off your calves and stops your knees from traveling too much forward, it is easier to keep your heels on the floor.
  • Put less stress on your knees: The wide stance reduces knee stress by leaving your shins more vertical. This makes sumo squats less demanding on the knees than other types of squats.
  • Prepare you for sumo deadlifts: If you want to boost your sumo deadlifts, perfecting your sumo squat stance during sumo squats will greatly assist you. 

Another one where we’ll call it a draw.

Being that the sumo squat was the only variation to win any points (two in fact) outright, they are the undisputed champs of the goblet squat vs sumo squat skirmish!


You probably weren’t expecting to finally get a resolution on the on-going goblet squat vs sumo squat…but here we are. Nothing against the goblet squat (it’s a great exercise), but all of those chicks busting out yuge sets of sumo squats know what they’re doing.

That being said, the squat in all forms is still the undisputed “king of exercise”…even if you’re performing the runner-up exercise in the sumo squat vs goblet squat showdown. 

Regardless, you’re good to get started with either variation with only a light dumbbell or kettlebell. No excuse not to grab it and get squattin’!

Been squatting for a while and want to set where you stack up in the squat hierarchy? Check out our article on squat strength standards!

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Tom, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, ISSA-CPT, PN1-NC, DPA, CAPM has been CrossFitting for over 10 years. He has participated in a number of team and individual CrossFit competitions across Europe and the United States. He was the 2012 Chick-fil-A Race Series champion (North Georgia Circuit) and has put together a few gnarly garage and basement gyms in his time!

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