Back squats are an exercise most people would recognize.
They’ve been a well-established leg-building exercise for a long time and they actually form the foundation of many squat variations.
Goblet squats are also pretty commonplace in many gyms, although not quite as popular as back squats.
Either way, they’re also very effective at building your lower body muscles and have earned a spot in many people’s leg workouts.
In this article, we compare back squats and goblet squats in regards to the muscles worked, difficulty, and variability to help you work out which one is best for you and your fitness goals.
What’s The Difference Between Back Squats And Goblet Squats?
Although the movement in both back squats and goblet squats is similar, there’s one key difference – the weight you use and the position you hold it.
During back squats, a weighted barbell is held on the top of your back.
However, during goblet squats, a dumbbell is held on the front of your body around chest height.
While the movement may look very similar, the overall look of the two exercises is quite different.
Goblet Squats vs Back Squats: For Quad Development
Any exercise where weight is held on the front of your body (front-loaded exercises) will usually put a lot of focus on your quads.
This is true for goblet squats as they place more focus on your quads when compared to back squats.
Goblet Squats vs Back Squats: For Hamstring Development
As back squats are a back-loaded exercise, your hamstrings are placed under greater stress than they are during goblet squats.
That’s not to say that goblet squats don’t work your hamstrings – they certainly do.
It’s just that more focus is placed on them during back squats.
Goblet Squats vs Back Squats: For Glute Development
As the movement of these exercises is so similar, your glutes are worked effectively in both.
However, as your glutes are on the backside of your body, back-loaded exercises will put more stress on them.
It’s for this reason that back squats are better than goblet squats when it comes to glute development.
Back squats are an extremely adaptable exercise.
You have the option of changing your feet position, the width of your stance, as well as changes to the bar position too.
For example, a barbell hack squat is still a back-loaded exercise as the weight is held behind your body. But it’s held behind your legs rather than on your shoulders.
This still works similar muscles but is usually more comfortable to perform.
One of the easiest ways to adapt goblet squats is to change what you’re using as resistance.
For example, instead of using a dumbbell, you could use a medicine ball, kettlebell, or a weight plate.
The exercise will still be the same but you might find it more comfortable to use alternatives to a dumbbell.
Both back squats and goblet squats are pretty versatile exercises.
You can change both in multiple ways to increase their benefits, so variability is high.
Back squats may have slightly more variations due to the stronger weight position, but there isn’t too much in it between these two when it comes to variability.
Back squats are a compound exercise that works multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
As the movement involved is quite complex, they have a reasonably high level of difficulty.
The technique of back squats is also quite challenging as many body parts are involved at various stages, so it’s certainly not an easy exercise to do correctly.
Front-loaded exercises tend to be quite challenging as they put your body in a weakened position.
In goblet squats, the weight is held on the front of your body.
This puts you in a more unstable and challenging position throughout the exercise.
That being said, the weight lifted in goblet squats tends to be quite light so the difficulty level drops somewhat because of this.
While both back squats and goblet squats have a reasonable level of difficulty, back squats are the more difficult of the two.
This is because more weight tends to be lifted in the exercise and this places more stress on the working muscles.
Goblet squats use less weight and keep you in a position where you can easily drop the weight in front of you with minimal risk.
Back squats tend to be a bit riskier to perform so the technique is important but can be tricky to master.
All squats tend to come with a pretty high risk factor.
However, if you keep some safety considerations in mind, you can minimize the risk you place on yourself during your workouts.
The weight you’re attempting to lift is probably the biggest safety consideration.
Lifting too much weight is one of the most common reasons for injuries occurring in the gym.
Any weight you lift should be appropriate to your current levels of fitness and strength.
Ensuring you use a correct technique will also help keep injuries at bay.
Even small errors in technique can lead to significant issues, so it’s important to get things right to keep yourself as safe as possible during training.
Goblet Squats vs Back Squats: Which Is Best?
Goblet squats and back squats both have some pros and cons to them when comparing them with each other.
Back squats are better suited to those who want to place a bit more focus on their hamstrings and glutes while still having good levels of variability.
Goblet squats are a good choice for those who want to target the quads a little more.
Both of these exercises are very effective and adding one to your training program will bring you noticeable benefits.
That’s all for this article, but is squatting bad for your back? Or how many squats can a 15 year old do?
Hope this helped!
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.