I don't know how your barbell squat form is, but mine sucks! Take a look at the first few seconds of this video and you will see my form. I'm not sure if I lack flexibility in my lower legs and ankles to be able to do ATG (ass to grass) squats, or if it's the position of the barbell that gives me problems, but the lower you go in the squatting motion, the easier it is on your knees.
I was ready to give up on barbell squats when I ran across the belt squat on the internet. Belt squats will place the work load on your legs, not on your back like a regular barbell squat would. I have read were belt squatting will actually help your barbell squatting form because doing the belt squat you can go ATG, thereby training your legs to become flexible and to explode out of the hole as they say.
Another benefit of belt squatting is that it takes the load off of your spine. No more heavy barbells pushing down on your discs making you shorter. Also, if you have shoulder problems, you don't have to struggle holding a heavy barbell behind your neck, a true blessing if you have rotator cuff problems. I strained my rotator cuff and it took ten months to heal...that really sucked!
New belt squatting machines cost $3K! They have a cable coming out of the floor that attaches to a belt squatting belt:
These machines have a safety release that keeps the cable loose until you attach it to the belt. Once you release the safety, the weight is supported by your legs and the belt, and you can squat away. Pretty good idea, but way too much cash and space required.
I came up with two homemade belt squat versions: one using the lat tower and one using box stands. If you have a lat tower with a lower pulley, you can build this one:
I have enough room to stand directly over the lower pulley assembly, so all I needed was a slightly raised platform.
The platform is made out of 2 x 4's and 2 x 6's. It's designed to fit around the lower support of my powertec rack.
The wooden platform is just high enough where I can disconnect the cable from the belt when I'm at the lowest point of the belt squatting motion (ATG).
To start the belt squat, I just raise the lat tower weight holder (unloaded) and prop the wooden weight support in place. The wooden weight support has a one inch oak dowel at the bottom. This dowel fits in the hole that's in the base of the lat tower. What's the hole for? I don't know, but it worked.
The wooden weight support is kind of hard to see in the above photo, so here's another photo:
Once the wooden weight support is in place, just load the Olympic plates on. The cable is loose enough where you can stand up and connect it to the belt, then step up on the wooden platform which places tension on the weight holder, and then you can move the wooden weight support out of the way and start squatting!
Coming up with a homemade belt squatting belt was a problem. I tried using my dip belt, but I needed to much extra padding to keep the steel rings and the chain itself from cutting into my inner thighs, so I bit the bullet as they say and invested in a belt squat belt from Spud, Inc., which was $82 shipped and worth every penny. It's padded so nice you can't even tell you are wearing anything!
Belt Squatting without a Cable Set up
How do you belt squat if you don't have a lat tower with a lower pulley? If you have two benches of equal height you can use those. Just fasten a couple of 45 pound plates to the belt, step up on the benches and start squatting. This will really test your balance!
My Ironmaster super bench is a bit on the tall side and that's my only bench, so I ended up building two box stands of equal height.
The box stands are 18" square and high. Each box is made up of 4, 2 x 4 x 12" boards; and 8, 2 x 4 x 18" boards. The top is a 3/4" piece of plywood (18" x 18") with a really cheap piece of foam gym flooring cut to size.
As an added safety factor, I added two one inch oak dowels on each box stand, and then drilled out one inch clearance holes in a separate 2 x 4. The 2 x 4 connects both boxes together forming one solid bench with a twelve inch gap between them.
This way I can easily disconnect the stands for storage. I also found that if I use one box to sit on to do lat pull downs, I get a better stretch than using the Ironmaster super bench which is 5 inches taller.
Belt squats rock! Especially when you're upper body is still sore from a chest or back workout the previous day, and now you don"t have to hold a barbell for squats on leg day.
Check out some of the belt squatting videos on youtube. You will have to lower the weight you usually use for a barbell squat, but eventually you'll be belt squatting really heavy poundage's!
The following is my feedback for the purchase and process of the Spud Squat Belt.
The purchasing of the belt was extremely easy. Delivery was super fast and I received emails regarding free download offers and offers to help with any questions I had. This was a super experience and I am very pleased with the whole process.
My husband LOVES the belt. The quality is exceptional and exactly what he was hoping for. He used it the minute he got it and has been using it ever since!!!
I want to thank you so very much for all of your courtesy and consideration. We would definitely buy from you again. Everything about it was exceptional and we truly appreciate it. Sherry B.
Aug 12, 19 02:58 PM
$ 250 Takes it all , 400 pounds of weights Plus weight bench with lat pull down bar and leg work out., Everything like new Local Pick Up Only email@example.com
Aug 06, 19 08:15 AM
Full free weight set that goes from 5-50 lbs. They are used, but they serve their purpose. I am willing to negotiate. Serious inquires only. firstname.lastname@example.org
Aug 02, 19 07:41 AM
Powertec Workbench LeverGym WB-LS16 Oakland, CA (SF Bay Area) jcronan37@Hotmail.com $699, OBO (Retail value was 2.5x this) The unit was purchased only