#WisdomWednesday Hip Belt Squat Machine
Hey guys! Performance Trainer Jaco here jumping into another quick #WisdomWednesday.
I want to start a series of posts where I put myself through various variations of exercises and give you my honest opinions about them. Last week we did 5 Back Row Variations, if you missed it go check it out!
This week we are checking out the Hip Belt Squat Machine.
This one actually affects me personally as I have been through a lower back injury and even though it was a handful of years ago, I still sometimes struggle with Barbell Back Squats. I have been using this machine as a supplementary exercise to my squats and I will give you an overview of my opinion of it later on .
Injuries to the back whether past or present then to get aggravated when the spine gets compressed via axial loading in a movement like the squat. The shear force that gets put onto the spine can cause an injury flare up, limiting the quality of the lift. This is also the case for shoulder injuries as it might be difficult to execute the shoulder Range of Motion required for the Back Squat. The nice thing about the hip belt squat machine is that it takes all of these factors out of play and isolates the demand from the lower body.
Now, what I’m not saying is “never do squats again if you have back pain”. This is meant to be used as a supplementary exercise to still work the glutes and quads while we address the other components of the injury to bring you back stronger next time you squat!
One great thing about this machine is that it allows you to exceptionally train that deep depth of the squat we all desire. My ability to go as low as I did with this machine allowed me to train the bottom portion of my squat better than if I had a barbell on my back strictly because I would hesitate to go as low because of my injury. Over all, out of 5 sets of 6 reps, I felt absolutely no pain in my back, no aggravation of the injury and the glute pump was real!
Another awesome feat is the ability to keep your form as you fatigue. With the Barbell Back Squat fatigue can cause deviations in form and there is more form that can be deviated from with a loaded spine from a barbell, or a loaded anterior chain in the form of a Goblet or Front Squat.
This is where the support bars come into play as you can rest into them to ensure the upper body stays upright, and your torso to tibia alignment during the squat stays on point!
Engage the core as you normally would in a squat, and keep the spine aligned.
Intra abdominal pressure applies as we would have taught you in the past.
Sit into the heels and align the knees with the toes as to prevent them from “caving in” or going into valgus.
Push through the Glutes and fully contract the Quads to get up to the top of the movement.
Keep the torso stable by holding onto the support beams.
Some things to consider when setting up for the belt squat:
Limb length and elevation blocks
Due to the pulley system and also the pin that “re racks” the weight getting set up might require a few adjustments. As you can see in the video I am using a block on each side to slightly elevate myself. This is because I found that with no elevation I had to struggle a bit to get the weight lifted so I could pull the pin, this could be dangerous at the end of my set when I am fatigued I don’t want to struggle to rack.
In short, the shorter you are the higher elevation you might need to get that weight lifted enough to pull the pin to begin the movement. Play around with a few different styles to find the best one that suits your body type!
The actual belt itself.
Have the belt sit as comfortably on the hips as you can, this might be slightly awkward at first but as you play around with the variation you’ll find an optimal position for the belt to sit at the hips. Make sure the position of the belt does not interfere with your squat Range of Motion. By this I mean if the belt is too low it will “block” movement from the crease of the hips and the movement will be stopped by the straps, adjust this accordingly so you can get the best depth from your squat out of this machine.
Because you can now go deeper into the squat pain free and as we know the bottom of the squat is the hardest point of the ascending strength curve, keep in mind that the hardest part of your squat will challenge you if you overload on weight. Take advantage of the ability to squat below parallel and choose a weight that trains this portion of the lift effectively!
Also as the weight increases you might find that it can get uncomfortable or not maintainable at the hips, this is why this is not a substitute for heavy squats, as much as it is a tool to get you to still move around your injury.
As a bonus, and because the Hip Belt Squat is slightly more Quad dominant, I thought I’d throw in a Glute blaster that you can do with this machine as well. Similar set up however instead of squatting you’re just marching in place and trust me there's no doubt in my mind that your Glutes will let you know they are working!
As always, thank you for reaching the end of this post, I appreciate your support by reading and sharing this content. If you or anyone you know would like to work with us simply comment on our post, reach out to me via email at email@example.com or follow and DM me on Instagram @labfit.pt
Any suggestions for future posts is highly recommended as this content is here to serve you, the Goliath family, so if there is anything you would like us to cover feel free to let us know!
Until next week,
Performance Trainer and Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach
Goliath: High Performance Training.