How I Grew To Love The Goblet Squat

by tffitness on July 17, 2016

IMG_3325When I first saw someone promoting the goblet squat as the next big thing, I instantly suspected that he was one of those corrective exercise Nazis disguising his evil craft in the form of a squat — a movement that most rational people will readily embrace. And, after watching about 3 reps of this odd-looking exercise, I quickly dismissed it outright — my argument hinged on the fact that performance in this “squat” was limited by upper-body strength rather than leg strength. Therefore, it sucks.

Note how sophisticated my critical thinking skills are — don’t try to get inside my head, because trust me, you’ll only get hurt.

Getting serious for a moment, may I point out that all exercises — even your favorites I’m afraid, have flaws? So yes, performance in the goblet squat is in fact limited by upper body strength — if you’re a 300-pound squatter for example, you won’t be able to hang on to (or even find, come to think of it) a 300-pound kettlebell or dumbbell.

This means that no — you shouldn’t replace your trusty barbell squat for goblet squats. So just relax — I’m not going down that road with this discussion. What I am advocating however, is that you consider incorporating this exercise into your overall training program. In a moment, I’ll quickly outline my reasons for this, but first, let’s take a look at the goblet squat just so we’re all on the same page about this moment. Below is a video of my online client Jeannine goblet-squatting a 70-pound dumbbell for 10 reps:

As you can see, the goblet squat involves holding a kettlebell or dumbbell in from of your chest. Using this technique, a few interesting things will take place:

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3 Ideas I’ve Done A Complete 180 On

by tffitness on July 8, 2016

IWASWRONGAlthough I’m somewhat embarrassed about the things I used to take as gospel (but now know to be false), on the other hand, I’m glad to be able to say that at least I’m evolving over time, and that I’m willing to revise my positions according to the best evidence that I have at the moment.

In the 3 examples below, I’m going to be absolutely transparent about the things I used to believe, the reasons I believed them, and finally, why my positions about them have now changed. As you read, I hope you’ll be inspired to examine your own beliefs, and also to appreciate the danger of over-investing in any particular position or practice.

1: Free Weights Versus Machines

Through the majority of my training and coaching career, I believed in and professed the superiority of free weights, and condescendingly mocked the use of resistance training machines such as the leg press and Smith machine.

My reasoning went something like this: “With machines, you’re only required to push (or pull) against the resistance, and there’s no need to control the resistance that you’re pitting your muscles against, and that control requirement is essential for optimum results from resistance training.”

Along similar lines, at or about this time, corrective exercise pioneer Paul Chek stated somewhere in print that machines are “sleeping pills for the nervous system.”


Now here’s the kicker — later in my career (and even currently), I spent plenty of time criticizing the use of various “unstable” exercises, such as drills performed on the Bosu balance trainer for example. I reasoned (correctly) that such drills were sub-optimal because you aren’t able to generate a strong contraction against a resistance when you’re not anchored to a stable surface.

In case you haven’t yet noticed the contradiction, my later critique for unstable exercise is actually a supportive argument for stable exercise (aka, machines). In truth, in both cases I was cherry-picking my arguments to suit my personal biases: In my critique of machine training, I simply honed in on the biggest flaw, which is a pre-determined movement path, while simultaneously ignoring the various benefits of machines (which I’ll come back to in a moment). Same goes for stability training.

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A Simple Test To Determine Optimal Training Volume

July 5, 2016

Many respected bodybuilding coaches and hypertrophy experts consider training volume (typically measured by total tonnage, or weight x reps) to be the most important training variable to push when the training goal is additional muscle mass. Obviously, volume cannot be considered in the absence of frequency and intensity, but as coach Eric Helms has said, [...]

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My 3 Favorite Ab Exercises

June 29, 2016

Ab training always tends to be a vortex of various training mythologies, so I thought I’d give my brief take on the subject this week, along with my favorite 3 ab (core) exercises as well. The best starting place when it comes to thinking about ab training is this: WHY are you doing it in [...]

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How I Warm Up For Resistance Training Workouts

June 22, 2016

The subject of warming up is both very impactful but also non-glamorous. Over the years, I’ve given a lot of thought to this topic, and so this week I thought I’d share my recommendations on how to best warm-up for a resistance-training session. The first step in our discussion is to distinguish between the general [...]

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What Men And Women Can Learn From Each Other In The Gym

June 12, 2016

I don’t know if you’ve noticed the comparative differences between how men and women operate in the gym, but I sure have. And even though I’ve long noticed these different approaches to fitness, it’s only recently occurred to me that perhaps we should pay attention to how the opposite sex conducts themselves when it comes [...]

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Announcement From Charles Staley

June 5, 2016

This week I’m announcing a new feature at Target Focus Fitness — Starting next week, each Wednesday I’ll be posting my complete training journal for the previous week, along with occasional photos and videos to illustrate the work I’m doing in my continuous attempt to refine and improve my fitness training activities. Along the way, [...]

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The Muscle Manifesto: 4 Tactics For More Lean Mass

April 28, 2016

My goal in this piece is to quickly provide four actionable strategies for safe and efficient muscular growth. While much of this will sound familiar to seasoned lifters, I believe you’ll find some valuable nuggets of wisdom here that will deepen and broaden your understanding of the hypertrophy process. Before we start however, I’d like [...]

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Integrating Strength And Hypertrophy Training

April 9, 2016

Most of us should prioritize the development of strength and hypertrophy (increased muscle mass) as two essential foundations of their training. Sure — there are other fitness characteristics that are also important for most of us — cardiovascular conditioning and mobility come quickly to mind — but these qualities can be at least partially addressed [...]

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On Heros, Idols, And Role Models

October 30, 2015

  The Declaration Of Independence states that all men were created equal, but as Tai Lopez once joked, “It doesn’t go down like that.” In truth, there are those among us who, for whatever reasons, accomplish more — much more in some cases — than the rest of us lesser mortals. Maybe they were born [...]

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