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Kindal deep in a goblet squat holding the dumbbell in a passive palms grip.
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Kindal Boyle

How To Hold A Dumbbell For Goblet Squats?

How you hold a weight can make a difference.

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    It might be more comfortable

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    It might help relieve some wrist pain

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    It might make things harder (which is a good thing)

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    It might just level up your skills too

Let's look at how you hold a dumbbell when doing goblet squats.

4 Ways To Hold a Dumbbell During Goblet Squats

This article only focuses on using a dumbbell during the goblet squat.

After you read about these dumbbell grips, learn about these 10 ways to squat and start using these tips in your workouts.

1. Passive Palms Grip

Kindal is holding the dumbbell in the passive palm grip close up so it's easy to see the form.
Kindal at the bottom of a squat holding the dumbbell with the passive palm grip.

The passive palms grip is when the dumbbell is resting in both palms.

Your palms are facing up to the sky and as a result your wrists are bent to 90 degrees.

Your forearms are perpendicular to the ground.

The Pros of Passive Palms Grip

The passive palm grip is a very solid grip with very little instability.

I love to use this grip when I'm using a 50lb or heavier dumbbell with lower reps per set. The main reason is the weight rests in your palms... all you have to do it support it.

Kindal showing how the passive palm grip causes the dumbbell to just rest in the position. Great for going heavy.

The Cons of Passive Palms Grip

There's only one major con of this grip... it's rough on your wrists.

Because your wrists are bent at 90 degrees... they take a lot of strain and no matter what... they'll start to hurt.

And this is why I prefer lower rep sets with this dumbbell grip.

2. Active Palm Grip

Kindal showing off the dumbbell active palm grip for the goblet squat.
Kindal at the bottom of a goblet squat using the active palm grip.

The active palm grip is when you're holding both bells of the dumbbell in your hands and actively squeezing them.

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    Your palms are not under the bells... rather they are on the outside of the bells facing each other.

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    Your forearms are perpendicular to the ground

The Pros of Active Palms Grip

Isolation Training

You are activating way more muscle with this grip.

Because you're squeezing the bells...

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    Your grip strength is getting worked

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    The entire muscular chain from your forearms through your shoulders is fully engaged

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    You even get an isolated chest contraction

You are getting isolation training through your entire upper body while still working your legs.

No Hurt Wrists

Because your wrists are straight... you don't have to worry about wrist pain.

In fact, because your gripping the weight hard through the entire exercise... you're actually improving your wrist strength and dexterity.

Read my post about wrist mobility stretches to help you mobilize and strengthen your wrists.

The Cons of Active Palms Grip

The only con to this grip is fatigue.

It's very likely (almost guaranteed) that your arms will fail before your legs fail... and since we're doing squats... we want to work out legs.

This is why active palms grip is best used with lighter weight and higher reps.

intensity tip

During any exercise the weakest or smallest muscle is the weakest link.

Sounds obvious... but let me explain.

Since we're doing goblet squats in this post... we want to work and push our legs to their limit. The problem is our legs can take a lot of abuse before they get to that limit.

So if we're doing some type of total body move like the active palm grip goblet squat where our arms are getting worked...

Our arms will fail before our legs get close to getting enough work to really produce the results we want.

This is why programming and exercise selection are so vital. There are many small factors that make one exercise the right exercise or potentially the wrong exercise

3. The Thumbs Up Hook Grip

Kindal showing a close up of the thumbs up hook grip from the front.
Kindal showing the hook part of the grip from behind so you can see how the dumbbell rests in her hands.
Kindal at the bottom of a goblet squat using the thumbs up hook grip.

This is Dan's favorite grip.

I actually don't use this grip enough... but I need to start playing with it more.

Take your dumbbell and place the handle between your thumbs and and index finger.

Just to say it a little differently... you're cradling the handle of the dumbbell between your thumbs and index fingers.

Next... you're going to hold the dumbbell up at shoulder height... even let it lean against the top of your chest.

Your elbows are pointing - slightly - out in front of you similar to doing a barbell front squat.

The Pros of the Thumbs Up Hook Grip

It's a great option for going heavy because like the passive palm grip... all you have to do is support the weight. You're not really using too much active muscle engagement to lift the weight.

The thumbs up grip is also easy on your wrists because your wrists stay straight.

Finally... because you're lifting your elbows out in front of you... this tend to help you keep your torso upright.

So you inadvertently get a better body position when going down into the squat.

The Cons of the Thumbs Up Hook Grip

Because this grip is best used with heavier dumbbells...

And if you're using metal dumbbells... not rubber coated bells...

Right below your collar bone will get hit as your hold the weight and there have been many times when I've bruised.

This depends on the number of total reps you're doing... but it will happen.

4. Vertical Grip

Kindal showing a close up of the dumbbell vertical grip.
Kindal at the bottom of the goblet squat using the dumbbell vertical grip.

The last dumbbell goblet squat grip is the vertical grip.

You'll hold one of the dumbbell... under the bell... in both hands.

The handle is going down... perpendicular to the ground with the other bell of the dumbbell just hanging.

Your elbows are pointed down to the ground.

The Pros Of The Vertical Grip

This is a good grip for going heavy.

Just like the passive palms grip you're mainly supporting the dumbbell... you don't have to use too much active muscle.

Just to reiterate... this is a great grip for heavy weights and lower rep sets.

The Cons Of The Vertical Grip

Your wrists are not quite at 90 degrees... but they're close.

You'll still have some wrist issues if you're holding the weight for an extended period of time. But it won't be as bad as the passive palm grip.

Squat Resources:

Read this post about a 5 minute warm up that is perfect for getting your hips ready to squat.

Plus... read this post about my 5 minute ankle and calf mobility routine .

This ankle and calf routine should be done at least once daily.

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Now... go do some of my 5 minute workouts and let's practice dumbbell goblet squats.

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Kindal squating and working her way through a tough metabolic strength workout

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