Go, go goblet.

Next in my not-very-regular mini-series on what to do with your newly arrived kettlebell covers the goblet squat.

I’ve touched on squatting – ‘Squonesty’, the post was called – before, so it remains to tell you about the ‘goblet’ part of the goblet squat. It involves holding the kettlebell in front of your chest as you squat. There’s an easier way to do it, and a slightly harder way to do it. For me, a goblet squat properly entails:

  • swinging the bell, two-handed, from between your legs, as for a kettlebell swing
  • cutting the swing short and bringing the bell towards the chest
  • at the top of the bell’s trajectory, flipping the bell over and catching it with the hands around the points where the handle joins the bell (so the inverted bell could be described as resembling a goblet), and holding the bell six inches or so away from the chest (see pic below: apart from being so ashamed of his kettlebell training that he’s gone to a remote rocky outcrop, the nice man has got a perfect hold on the just-flipped bell, three fingers around the ‘horns’ of the bell, forefinger and thumb around the base of the bell).
  • performing a squat…

…and repeating many times.


If the flipping and catching seems unsafe, just take the bell by the horns, right way up, hold it in front of your chest, and squat.

Holding the bell slightly away from your body makes your abdominal muscles work hard to stabilise your movement in the vertical plane. Squatting makes you a better human.

Don’t cringe from the hinge.

Second in this series of what to do with the newborn kettlebell in your life. In the first, you got a handle on (see what I did there?) the value and simplicity of the shoulder press.

Now you need to get your head, or bum, round the hinge. The hinge is the fundamental element of the kettlebell swing (and the deadlift), and the kettlebell swing is the fundamental element of your new relationship with this quirky blob of iron. So learn it, and learn it good.

The hinge takes place at your hips. Your hips ARE the hinge, goddammit. Stand straight, bend by hinging at the hips. Stick your bum out behind you. Keep your back straight, shoulders up, head up. Your knees will flex slightly. Your shins should stay more or less vertical. That’s about it.

If you want to incorporate your kettlebell into your hinge, try a deadlift. A single bell is usually very easy to deadlift, which makes it easy to focus on this vital movement: start hinging, bum out, back straight, let your arms dangle (yes, you will start to look like a gorilla), hook your fingers under the handle of the bell and, driving your heels into the ground, straighten up. The power to lift the weight comes from your behind, your posterior chain, your hamstrings, glutes and back. DO NOT LIFT WITH YOUR ARMS. Ignore the bell. Pretend it’s not there. Give it the silent treatment.

Practise this loads. Every day, many times a day. When you have a good hinge going on, you have a very strong tool in your strength training and kettlebell locker.

Free the press.

The courier struggles to your door with a many-times-retaped box in his arms, and an Expression on his face. You thank him too effusively, and wait till he has driven off before struggling down the hall with your new kettlebell.

This is it. The dawn of a new era. No more Mr Soft Butt. No more Mrs Fitness-Equipment-Gathering-Dust-In-The-Loft.

But two pale grey clouds flit across the empty blue sky of your consciousness. Like fortune cookies, they yield little messages.

One says, ‘How will this not be another piece of pricey junk that I use inexpertly for less than a month then transfer to door-stop/clothes-drier duties?’

The other says, ‘What are the first things I need to do to get going with a kettlebell?’

Let me try to disperse the clouds and answer those nagging little questions.

Second question first; at its simplest, a kettlebell is good for pressing. You can ignore the ‘clean’ part of ‘clean and press’ because it is a little technical for the untutored beginner. So just pick up that bell by the handle, bring it to chest height, lay it on your forearm and press it vertically upwards until your arm locks out. The bell will be hanging over the back of your hand. Biceps (or what passes for them) close to your ear. Lower it to chest height, swap sides, go again. Keep going until you feel like stopping. Err on the side of caution if it is your first go at strength training for a while. Don’t worry about sets and reps to begin with. Just think, ‘I want stronger shoulders and this will do the job.’ There’s something to be going on with. Press your bell, and press it frequently.

To deal with the first question: I play a couple of musical instruments, not particularly well, but enough to make me happy. I pick up my harmonicas (for that is what my passion is) every day. I pick up my bass every day. I have to because I don’t feel I am anywhere near mastery, and that is what I aspire to. If you put your kettlebell where you can always see it, and you pick it up every day, and press it once or twice, you will start to love it. But if that shifts to every other day, every two or three days, once a week – there you have the slippery slope to doorstopness. Or clothesdrierness.

I’ll write another post, or more posts, to expand on what to do with a kettlebell when you first get it. But for now you have something to get your teeth into. Get stuck in.