Should Women Wear A Belt When Squatting & Deadlifting? –

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Video

Belt Squatting with a Spotter (5 rep sets)

Start with a 4-8” box under the loaded weight pin, and at the start of each set, lift the weights up and have a spotter pull the box out from under the stack to clear room for the rep. This makes it drastically easier to get the weight up on the first rep. At the end of the set, wait until the spotter slides the box back and carefully lower the weight down.

Execution Tips:

> Sit back deep into the squat, driving your hips back and aiming to keep a more vertical shin-angle (this is more reminiscent of box squat form – you can certainly do more upright versions to mimic front squats if you wish).

> Drive explosively through the heels, aiming to accelerate the weight as fast as possible like you’re trying to jump out of the bottom of the lift (this is extremely important from a power output standpoint).

> Use as little assistance from your arms as possible – the squat rack is to be used to add stability and as a counterbalance, but you should not be actively trying to pull yourself up out of the bottom with your arms.

Rogue Rhino Belt Squat FAQs

Are belt squats any good for a home gym? Yes! If you have the space (and the money for that matter) to get a belt squat, I would highly recommend it. I find that I use my Rhino Belt Squat frequently because it is so versatile.Is the Rogue Rhino Belt Squat worth it? In my opinion, yes. However, something being worth varies from person to person. It all goes back to figuring out your budget, if you have the space for this machine, and how often you’d use a belt squat.Are belt squats good for taking the pressure off your spine and lower back? Yes, they can help take stress/pressure off your upper body and back that you might feel with a traditional squat rack. I particularly like the Rogue Monster Rhino Belt Squat because of the included, high quality adjustable hip belt, which helps you focus on lower body activation versus an uncomfortable belt squat belt.For your average lifter, is the Rhino Belt Squat a better buy than something like a monster rack or power rack? Depending on the workouts you like to do, you have a lot more weightlifting options on something like a power rack. However, a belt squat like the Rhino is great for lower body movements without agitating the body more than necessary.

Final Thoughts

Our goal as a coach is to always ensure our athletes are safe and lifting with the best technique possible. A belt can help facilitate this. Some athletes will not use a belt, even with maximum attempts. That’s okay, as long as they maintain good technique. However, if you are going to use a belt you should know how to use one correctly. I recommend practicing with a lighter weight with the belt on, making sure you’re using correct breathing/bracing. Therefore, when you do attempt a heavy squat it will be second nature.

If you have a weightlifting belt, I caution you to use it sparingly. I often will keep mine in my gym bag until my heaviest or most intense training lifts.

Until next time,

Dr. Aaron Horschig, PT, DPT, CSCS, USAW
Dr. Aaron Horschig, PT, DPT, CSCS, USAW

With

Dr. Kevin Sonthana, PT, DPT, CSCS
Dr. Kevin Sonthana, PT, DPT, CSCS

Resources

  1. Lander JE, Hundley JR, Simonton RL. The effectiveness of weight-belts during multiple repetitions of the squat exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992 May;24(5):603-609.
  2. Zink AJ, Whiting WC, Vincent WJ, McLaine AJ. The effect of a weight belt on trunk and leg muscle activity and joint kinematics during the squat exercise. J of Strength Cond Res. 2011;15(2):235-240.

Ordering and Assembling the Rogue Rhino Belt Squat

The Rogue Rhino Belt Squat showed up at my gym’s doorstep about six weeks after I hit the order button on Rogue’s website. Due to the Rogue Rhino being made to order, it takes a bit longer than most of their other equipment, although I could see that changing in the future as it increases in popularity.

The Rogue Rhino showed up on a long pallet, mostly

The Rogue Rhino showed up on a long pallet, mostly in separate boxes. I spoke with a representative after receiving the Rhino to ask some further spec questions and was told that they have since created a separate box that has padding and spots for all the various parts of the machine. This said, after inspecting all of the various parts of the machine upon unboxing, I didn’t notice any damage from shipping.

Although unboxing a bunch of different sections wa

Although unboxing a bunch of different sections was tedious, I’m glad everything was protected and came out unscathed. Due to the amount of equipment we receive for review, the quality of packaging we see runs the gamut, so we’re always happy when things show up without any hiccups.

In the same way unboxing took a bit, assembly took even longer. The Rhino Belt Squat is engineered incredibly well. However, due to everything having to fit just perfectly and the entire unit being bolted together, section off an hour or more of your time to assemble this. Thankfully, I have a large audiobook library that I’m constantly trying to tackle, which I put on in the background.

One reason the Rhino took some time to assemble is

One reason the Rhino took some time to assemble is that I don’t have a power tool that allows me to tighten 1-inch bolts. Thankfully, Rogue provides two 1-inch branded wrenches (that are definitely going to be displayed on the wall) that can be used.

However, all of that time and energy is worth it w

However, all of that time and energy is worth it when you can take a step back and see this beautiful machine ready to make you a bigger and better performing version of your current self.

Is Belt Squat better than Leg Press?

The Leg Press (using a machine) is another alterna

The Leg Press (using a machine) is another alternative for reducing pressure on your lower back while working your legs safely. Just like squats, Leg Presses target the quadriceps muscles, but also work your hamstrings and quads. The fact that you’re sitting or lying on a padded backrest means that you have a solid platform to push against without the need to engage your lower back muscles while your legs are working. 

The Leg Press is definitely a good Squat alternative for those with lower back injuries. Adjusting your foot position helps you shift the weight to focus on different leg muscles, and adjust how it feels on your back. The lower range of motion concentrates the work on your quads, reducing emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings compared to squats.

However, it requires a Leg Press Machine, which is far less common than a barbell with free weights or a Squat Rack. There is also a higher risk of leg injury if you lock your knees or round your back to press heavy. People often end up trying to press more than they are capable of, which can increase the chance of strain or injury.

Belt Squats, on the other hand, do engage the glutes and hamstrings more, making them a more complete leg workout rather than targeting the quads. This can actually be a good thing, though, as it means you’re developing well-rounded, functional strength. You will move more easily and fluidly when training for a natural motion (squatting) compared to a limited movement like leg pressing. Squats also improve knee flexibility and force you to engage your core to remain balanced, but with the weight on your waist and hips, there is minimal risk of lower back strain.

More than Just Squats

Belt Squat Marches

Belt squat marches are another movement coming out of the powerlifting community. The idea is to stand tall in the belt squat while either marching on the spot or with different IR/ER on the unloaded leg. Loading the standing leg in an advantaged position certainly provides feel to the working muscles. These are used mostly as a warm-up or as activation for reps or GPP work for time. After air travel, I’ve used a band variation to stimulate hip flexors and glutes and get my hips feeling normal.

Video 4. The belt squat march, often used as a warm up exercise.

Split Squats and Staggered Belt Squats

It’s also worth considering split squats and staggered belt squats for a novel stimulus; I’m particularly keen on a staggered hand-supported belt squat. The main issues are set-up and comfort, as the variability in set-ups means that a split squat is often not viable but a staggered squat is.

Creativity goes a long way in setting this up. You can find an excellent example using a double harness with a double lever machine in Chris Korfist’s post about the Bulgarian split squat.

Video 5. I especially like the staggered hand-supported belt squat for a novel stimulus.

Belt Squat Romanian Deadlift

The belt squat RDL is another novel variant for the belt squat alone, the addition of dumbbells and kettlebells, and even band-anchored variations. A shift in belt position will create some sheer stress and potential traction in the lower back. This can benefit athletes who experience a lot of compression from conventional heavy barbell work. The RDL is a perfectly viable option as a special exercise or when the conventional RDL isn’t an option.

Video 6. The RDL with dumbbells and hip belt is a creative way to get a new stimulus with athletes. Experiment and see what works for your environment.

Ranged Trimetric Belt Squats

Although these are considered out in left field now, ranged trimetric belt squats are good for rapid contract-relax contexts. I’ve been using them with some of my grappling and MMA athletes to promote rapid contract-relax qualities without the limitation of ankle-based ground force characteristics we need for plyometrics. Because combat athletes spend a lot of time unshod on soft surfaces, their SSC isn’t particularly well developed because their spring ankle complex is not up to snuff.

Ranged trimetric squats usually are performed for contextual timed sets anywhere from 3-10s. I suggest using an underhand grip to allow for upper body contribution and stabilization while the athlete pulls and pushes rapidly in each direction. I file this under looks silly, does good in the category of movements. I have the benefit of owning my own gym, so the athletes aren’t too bothered about looking silly.

Video 7. Ranged trimetric belt squats promote rapid contract-relax qualities without the limitation of ankle-based ground force characteristics.

Conclusion

Belt squatting offers another way to target lower-body loading and, as with any variant like this, comes with many upsides and a few downsides. While its place is mostly as a supplementary exercise, its value shines in its ability to specifically target the lower body at the expense of some of the systemic stress of conventional lower-body compound movements. When timed correctly, they help maintain peripheral freshness in the upper limbs.

Belt squats shine in targeting the lower body without some of the systemic stress of conventional compound movements, says @WSWayland. #BeltSquats Click To Tweet

Its other key use is with athletes who are experiencing something that prevents them from performing conventional barbell training, which was why the belts were used originally. We’ll probably see more equipment innovation going forward, as comfort, space, and expense all come into play when gym owners decide what to put in their facilities.

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