The belt squat machine is unique to most weight rooms. In fact, there’s a greater chance of finding Atlantis than finding one of these awesome pieces of equipment in an LA Fitness or a Crossfit box. However, this is an extremely helpful lower body machine for everyone - even those that have back pain or injuries.
The belt squat places the weight load on your hips and legs, while leaving the spine totally free from outside weight and avoiding compression. People with lower back issues or people that don’t want to load the spine can still accomplish excellent lower body strength training. It allows us to hone in on different hip muscles to increase activation of inactive muscle tissue or hit the lower body similar to that of a heavy back squat. You can squat, walk, step up, lunge, and so much more with this machine. Below you’ll find a few exercises that can be added to your work out program if you’re interested in using the belt squat.
This squat variation is excellent for individuals who can't support weight on their spine or need relief from compressing their spine with heavy weights. This is also a helpful progression to help newbies learn to use their legs under weight. For someone who isn't used to loading the spine, this may be an excellent option before progressing them to a squat variation that requires spine stabilization.
Belt Squat Walk
These belt squat variations are excellent options for activating the glutes and awakening muscles that are commonly known to weaken when staying seated for long periods of time. With all of these exercises, maintaining a strong core brace is important to keep the pelvis in a neutral position which will in turn help in maintaining a strong contraction in the glutes.
Belted Reverse Lunge
The belted reverse lunge is an excellent unilateral option that challenges stabilization in a very different way compared to a bodyweight, dumbbell, or barbell reverse lunge.
Belt Step Ups
Again, a very effective way to challenge the body outside of a traditional step up. This exercise is quite difficult to stabilize in the sagittal plan and hammers the glutes in a new way.
Belt Side Squat
The Side Squat is another way to challenge the body in the frontal plane through lateral movement. The key here is stabilization and will challenge you again in the glutes if you keep a tight core.
Overhead Plate Step Ups
The Belted Steps w/ Plate Overhead is a great way of challenging the entire kinetic chain through bracing and stabilization. This is an advanced move and will challenge your balance along with maintaining a strong braced contraction for the overhead movement. Watching this video should give you a few creative ideas to incorporate into your own exercise selection.
Belted KB Single Leg RDL
By challenging a strong unilateral hinge with an added weight and the added belt squat, your butt will love this one. Again - balance, coordination, bracing, and a hinge will challenge your glutes and leg muscles to maintain a strong muscular balance to accomplish the task - meaning your leg muscles will work together.
Belted Sumo w/ KB
This is another way to hammer the glutes by adding a strong emphasis on the glute med. to activate and help stabilize the movement. Adding a band helps emphasize the glute meds to a greater extent.
Banded Belted Brace
Excellent way to teach firing the glutes and activating the core! Holding for timed intervals is the best way we've found to teach someone how to fire the glutes while maintaining a strong braced core. From a relaxed position, tuck your hips by activating your glutes while simultaneously contracting your core.
Belted MB Rotational Twist
A strong rotational movement started from a cocked back hinge position where you will fire against the weight to push the ball over your shoulder. Excellent way to challenge force delivery across the body starting at the hip. Loading the hip can be a good way to teach the hip to deliver power through twisting motions, especially in sports where activating a cross body force is required for large explosive movements like golf, baseball, or tennis.
The belt squat machine is a valuable tool to add to your training, but it should be used at the right times to maximize the rest of your program. Often, people turn their training into a hodgepodge of random movements, DON'T do that. The belt squat should be a weapon at your disposal along with loads of other pieces of equipment to boost your performance. In regards to setting up your training program, KEEP IT SIMPLE. Follow the KISS principle and you'll never be lost. When you start to muddy up your plan by constantly changing and adding things here and there, the plateaus will occur. Have a reason for everything in your program and you will have success. The belt squat is a phenomenal machine and has a place in everyone's program at some point, especially when used to compliment major movements and to give your body variation for activating muscle in a new way.