Goblet Squat vs. Sumo Squat – What’s The Difference?

Squat variations are a dime a dozen, making it hard to know which one to choose and how they’re all different.

Luckily, goblet squats and sumo squats are two types you really can’t go wrong with – and they both have their own set of pros and cons that can change depending on your goals and anatomy…


Goblet squats and sumo squats mainly differ in their stances and weight setups, and you may be better off doing one over the other depending on how your body’s built, your goals, and your skill level.

And don’t worry, we’ll help you figure out exactly which one is perfect for you!

Let’s talk about what the differences between the goblet squat and the sumo squat are, why you should consider doing either one, and give you some tips to get the most gains out of both of them!

How The Goblet Squat Differs From The Sumo Squat

The goblet squat and sumo squat differ in two main areas: the stance and the weight setups.

Different stances means that you’ll feel some change in what muscles are being worked on either squat.

Don’t get me wrong – you’ll be hitting your lower body with both, but some muscles and joints will be emphasized differently between the two (we’ll talk about that down below).

The different weight setups also make progression for each squat different, and that could be tricky depending on what equipment you have available and what your training goals are.

Let’s dive into all that a bit more…

Goblet Squat

The goblet squat is an amazing squat variation that nearly everyone can do.

Plus, it’s a great starting point to build up strength if you’re looking to get into barbell squatting!

Goblet Squat Stance

You have a fairly neutral stance with this one, with your toes pointed slightly out or straight forwards depending on what’s comfortable for you – just like a regular squat!

Go for a shoulder-width, or slightly wider, foot placement.

Goblet Squat With Dumbbell

I prefer doing the goblet squat with squat wedges or slant ramps to get some more knee flexion for that extra quad pump (and to compensate for my terrible ankle mobility…).

Check out our article on squat wedges vs. slant ramps to find the one best for you!

This stance will bring your knees in front of you as you go down, and maybe slightly outwards depending on how far you pointed your toes out.

Goblet Squat Weight Setup

The “goblet” refers to how you hold the weight – you want to have it right in front of your chest, under your chin.

Don’t hold it too far away from your chest, as that can make the exercise a bit hard on your lower back (and no one wants to deal with that).

Goblet Squat Form Holding Dumbbell

You can do this with kettlebells, dumbbells, sand bags, milk jugs, your dog…pretty much anything that has weight to it works!

The only tricky thing is that you might have to swing the weight up if you’re going heavy, which could limit your progress here…

Goblet Squat Muscles Worked

The stance for the goblet squat gives you a good amount of knee travel – they move forward over your ankle more so than the sumo squat does.

This will make your quadriceps work a bit harder, putting the emphasis on building some quad-zillas!

You can make this even more quad-dominant by using squat wedges like I mentioned before, which is great if you’re trying to build muscle there or burn them out.

You’ll also hit your glutes and hamstrings since you’re bending at the waist, forcing those big muscles to push some weight while the calves work on stability!

The way you hold the weight is going to make your core work as well – it needs to fight so you don’t tip over!

That includes your abs and spinal erectors, which are the long muscles running up and down your spine.

This is great for people wanting to deal with an injury or strengthen their lower back.

Sumo Squat

I’m personally a big fan of this one – my hips love it and it gives me a good stretch!

The sumo squat is very versatile, with many ways to hold the weight so that you can do it with different equipment and progress a bit easier than with goblet squats.

Sumo Squat Stance

Think of how a sumo wrestler sets up when getting ready to fight mass with mass.

Their feet are spread far apart, toes pointed outwards, and their knees come out to their sides as they squat down.

That’s pretty much how the sumo squat is setup – spread your feet well past your shoulders and point your toes outwards however much is comfortable.

It’ll look like you’re trying to do the splits while bent at the knees, giving you a stretch in the groin as you move down.

Sumo Squat Weight Setup

This is one of the best things about the sumo squat – you can hold the weight in so many different ways!

The classic way is use a barbell across your back, which is perfect if you’re using a squat or power rack and want to go heavy.

You can also hold the weight hanging down in front of you (e.g. a dumbbell or kettlebell), but be careful not to turn that into a sumo deadlift!

Just make sure you’re bending at the knees, trying to keep your chest up, and starting in a standing position.

You can actually use the “goblet” position as well, holding a weight under your chin at your chest.

Sumo Squat Muscles Worked

The wide stance and knees-out movement gives you a fairly balanced lower body exercise, but with some extra emphasis on inner thigh activation.

You put your inner thigh, or your “adductor” muscles, on more of a stretch with sumo squats, making them work – which is missed in almost every other squat type.


It’s an important part of the leg to train for strong, healthy, powerful, and aesthetic legs, especially since most people working out don’t give the adductors the love they deserve.

You also want to train them to avoid strains and injuries – plus they’ll help you have powerful and balanced legs for sports.

That being said, sumo squats also hit the quads, glutes, and hamstrings very well, making it a truly underrated squat variation for overall leg development.

Sumo Squat Mobility

A sumo squat might be tough for you if you have bad hip mobility…

The way your knees go outwards and your legs are spread wide requires a little more room in your hips than regular squats do… which not everyone has.

We’re all built differently, and the position of your hip joints may easily let you do sumo squats or fight the position by causing pain and discomfort.

Different muscle insertions can also have an effect on how easy it is to do these, with some people having no issue at all while others physically can’t get into the position because their muscles are pulling too much.

Try slowly spreading your feet further out during your squats and getting into a sumo squat progressively over time, training your body until you can do a full rep comfortably – kind of like training for the splits!

Key Differences

Let’s recap the key differences between the goblet squat and sumo squat that’ll have the biggest impact on you:

  • Stance – A goblet squat has a neutral, shoulder-width stance that brings your knees in front of you, while a sumo squat has a wide, toes-out stance that brings your knees out beside you.
  • Weight Setup – Goblet squats make it difficult to progress because you’re limited to what you can bring up to your chest, while sumo squats can be made heavy using a barbell.
  • Mobility Needs – You need more hip mobility for a sumo squat, but more knee and ankle mobility for a goblet squat. You don’t have to pick your poison though because things like squat wedges and progressive form-work will help you achieve both variations!
  • Muscles Worked – Both squats are great for your entire lower body, but goblet squats have a bit more emphasis on quads while sumo squats emphasize the adductors.

The biggest difference is definitely the stance and weight setup, and either of those can make-or-break the movement for you…

Which One Is Right For You?

This comes down to a couple factors.

If you’re wanting to get into barbell squatting but aren’t confident yet, do goblet squats since it has the same stance.

If you don’t specifically train your adductors with another exercise, do sumo squats to hit those important inner thigh muscles.

Sumo squats are also way easier to go heavy with – you can use a barbell or a smith machine to really push some weight, while you’re limited to what you can bring/hold at your chest with goblet squats.

You can also do goblet squats if you have poor hip mobility or pain with sumo squats, even as a placeholder while you’re working on improving your mobility.

I’d also recommend doing goblet squats with squat wedges if you’re wanting a more quad-dominant movement, which is great for building muscle and knees over toes training!

Both are awesome, and you should give each a shot, but don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything if you physically can’t do a sumo squat – goblet squats are a great lower body exercise as well (just add in some extra adductor work)!

Eric Richter, MSPT

Eric Richter, MSPT

I'm Eric, a physiotherapist with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy from the University Of Manitoba. I have enjoyed the better part of a decade working with both amateur and professional athletes as a physical therapist.I've also worked as a strength and conditioning coach at an MMA gym!

Learn more about me...

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