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August 23, 2022
Currently, there are only a handful of manufacturers making the belt squat machine and in this post, we'll cover the 3 best belt squat machines that can be added to your commercial or home gym.
Let's get into it...
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The Bells Of Steel Belt Squat Machine 2.0 is our pick for the best overall machine that will meet and exceed the needs of most people.
Bells of Steel has made a name for itself over the past few years by offering kickass equipment at a price that won't break the bank.
The Bells of Steel belt squat machine is built from heavy-duty 11 gauge steel that has 0 gauge connection plates that result in a 700-pound maximum weight capacity. Covered in black powder paint the high-quality belt squat machine should last you for years to come.
One of the key features not to miss is the cut-out on the footplate that allows the lever arm to move in a wider range of motion, therefore, giving the users a chance to move through a complete ROM.
With this machine, you have a fixed handlebar to help keep you steady as you perform your belt squats.
To get the optimal range of motion there are top-loaded pegs or optional side pegs plus there are top and bottom band pegs in case you want to incorporate your power bands into your training. The beauty of the top-loaded weight horns is that you don't have to worry about the weights hitting the floor as you squat down.
This lever belt squat machine employs high-quality bushings on the pivot points for fluid movement. With your purchase of this machine, you get a heavy-duty belt that has 2 feet of chain and 2 carabiners. Plus this belt machine's starting weight is 45 pounds making it the same as a traditional barbell, this is a great feature that enables the lifter to know exactly how much they're squatting.
Another perk of this belt squat machine is that you don't need to mount it to the floor as it is rather sturdy considering the 264-pound frame.
Take some of the pressure off of your lumbar spine and hit some deep squats with this lever arm machine that's around $1000
The Titan Fitness Belt squat machine is the best money-value option we've come across.
For around $700 you get a quality belt squat machine with tones of key features that will satisfy the majority of home gym owners.
This steel machine will allow you to work the lower body without the added stress on your lumbar spine, shoulders and torso.
Titan included 3 weight stopper positions so that you can change up your squat depth. There are also 4 posts to store your weight plates on that act as a counterbalance to give the machine added stability. Whether you're doing belt squat marches, hip belt squats, calf raises or upper body exercises you can be rest assured that the machine remains stable.
Like the Bells of Steel machine, Titan also uses a lever system but they claim a 1000-pound max weight capacity. This high weight capacity would rival belt machines that you might find in commercial gyms. At the base of the machine, you'll be standing on a solid diamond-plated footplate.
Titan also includes a weight belt, chain and carabiners so you can get started on your box squats or belt squats in no time.
The Rogue Monster Rhino belt squat machine is truly a beast. The major difference between this machine and the previous two is that this operates via a cable and pulley system whereas the others are lever arm machines.
If money's not an object and you want to go hard on your belt squat game then you should consider purchasing this piece of gym equipment. Weighing in at over 500 pounds this thing is built like a tank. You better be 100% sure where you want to set it up because once it's assembled it's most likely not going anywhere anytime soon.
While this machine weighs more than its counterparts, the actual footprint is rather compact due to the weight horns being located in the center. Like the Titan machine, this one can hold up to 1000 pounds which most people won't even come close to doing.
A few other key features of this premium machine include:
Just a heads up, Rogue encourages customers to bolt this machine to the floor.
All in all if you had the money to spend then this might be the machine for you.
Below you can see how our favorite belt squat machines stack up next to one another. We hope this can help you in deciding which is the best option for your needs.
L x W x H
Bells Of Steel Belt Squat Machine
Adjustable unracking positions
11 gauge steel
700 lb weight capacity
Titan Belt Squat Machine
3 stopper positions
4 weight pegs
Heavy duty steel
1000 lb weight capacity
Rogue Monster Rhino Belt Squat Machine
3x3" steel frame
Rhine Horn for different racked heights
1000 lb weight capacity
No you may be wondering, "what's better belt squats or back squats?", well you're in luck as this question has actually been studied in a clinical setting.
Researchers recently looked at the muscle activation via EMG to determine the differences between belt squats and traditional squats. The main question was to see whether or not belt squats resulted in the similar engagement of the prime movers and stabilizing muscles as a regular squat does but with less activation of the lumbar extensor.
The results were quite astounding as 10 well trained participants performed three sets of 5 reps at 100% their bodyweight. The researchers found that the belt squat reduced the lumbar erector impulse and peak activation at 45.4% and 52% respectively. At the same time the belt squat din't alter muscle activation of the lower extremities except for the gluteus medius (54.1% impulse and 55.2% peak) and gluteus maximus (35.2% impulse and 32.1% peak).
Belt squats also reduced the activation of the rectus abdominis and external obliques.
To put it in layman terms, the belt squat was just as effective in working the quads, hamstrings, and plantar flexors but less effective in engaging the trunk stabilizers and gluteal muscles. Therefore, belt squats are an awesome alternative to back squats if you want to avoid putting tension on the lower back and trunk.1
Belt squat machines provide users with a range of benefits which is why they're becoming ever more popular in the fitness industry. Let's have a look at some of the advantages a belt squat machine can offer.
Unlike barbell squats, using a belt squat machine allows lifters to target the lower body without the added pressure and stress of having the axial load centered on top of the body.
Some people have lower back or shoulder issues which makes the barbell back squat somewhat unattainable without causing more issues. So for those that suffer from a shoulder injury, have hip issues or lower back pain, then performing squats on a belt squat machine could be the answer to your problems.
When strapping on the adjustable belt and getting into position on the machine you'll notice the load in front of your body. This positioning emphasizes hip extension resulting in some glute activation. So for those that want a killer glute workout without adding more stress on the upper body then try out a belt squat machine next time you get a chance.
If you want to get a similar muscle activation as a barbell back squat with a machine you can use the leg press and hack squat machine. However, belt squat machines will be the closest to the back squat without putting any undue pressure on your spine.
The belt squat machines are a versatile piece of gym equipment as it offers something for everyone. No matter whether you're a professional athlete, a complete beginner, or someone coming back from an injury, this machine can provide you with an efficient and effective workout.
Good form and technique are essential when performing barbell backs squats, many people have some issues with keeping their spine vertical due to the placement of the load on the body. With belt squats it's much easier to keep your spine in a vertical alignment which reduces the chances of injuring yourself or experiencing pain.
Although belt squat machines are mainly used for the namesake belt squat, there are a number of exercises that you can perform on one. Below are some movements that you can execute using your belt squat machine.
Belt squat machines come in different shapes and sizes but there are three main types you'll see on the market these days. Below we briefly cover the common types of belt squat machines and what you can expect from each.
A cable belt squat machine is exactly as it sounds. A cable comes up through the footplate and attaches to the belt you're wearing on one side and a pulley system on the other. The benefit of cable belt squat machines is that the weight is perfectly centered under you so you're squatting motion is natural.
These machines usually have a much smoother motion, cost more money and take up more space. So it comes down to a budget issue and square foot trade-off whether you opt for a cable belt squat machine or a lever arm machine. Above we covered the Rogue Monster Rhino belt squat machine which would be an example of a cable belt squat machine.
The lever arm belt squat machine relies on a primary pivot point that sits in front of the lifter. Above we covered the Bells Of Steel and Titan machines which use this style of mechanism. These lever system machines tend to be much lower cost while having a smaller footprint.
The one downfall of the lever arm machines is that the weight is centered in front on a connection arm of you rather than underneath you. This positioning can lead to a little forward pull at the knees which isn't as much as a natural motion compared with a cable machine.
Not as common as the two previously mentioned, the free weight belt squat machine utilizes weight plates that dangle below you while attached to the belt around your waist. The lifter stands on a platform that has a center hole cutout where the weight plates are stowed on a center pin which ensures you stay vertical as you perform your squats.
Belt squat machines aren't cheap so it's important you know what you're looking for when shopping for one.
The available space you have can be a deal breaker when it comes to buying a belt squat machine. These pieces of gym equipment tend to have a larger footprint so you can expect it to take up an area of up to 5 feet deep and 8 feet wide. The height of most belt squat machines shouldn't be much of an issue but in some cases if you have low ceilings under 8 feet then make sure to check the machine's height. For example, Rogue's machine is about 6.5 feet tall.
The type of belt squat machine you buy is largely dependent on the amount of money you're spending. Most people will enjoy a lever arm machine without many gripes even though you might experience a slight forward pull. However, if you're willing to fork out some more cash then a cable belt squat machine might be a better choice.
A good sign of a well built belt squat machine will use 11 gauge steel. To give you an idea of what to expect, the lightest machine on our list was from Titan Fitness as it weighs in at 232 pounds while Rogue's Rhino belt squat machine weighs over 500! Expect a quality belt squat machine to have a maximum weight capacity of 700 to 1000 pounds.
Besides the beefy frame you should also be on the lookout for any extras the machine offers such as adjustable handles, adjustable racking positions, safety stoppers, weight plate storage posts and band pegs.
Belt squat machines have quite the range in price tags, on the low end you can expect to pick one up for $700 like the one from Titan Fitness and on the high end you could spend well over $4k. We believe the sweet spot is from $700-$1300.
Belt squat machines aren't cheap therefore you should try to find one that has a great warranty to protect your investment. In our opinion belt squat machines should have at the very minimum 1-year warranty but the ideal length you should look for is a limited lifetime warranty.
Always spend 20-30 minutes combing through reviews online when you're thinking about making a big purchase like a belt squat machine. You should get a rough idea of the overall sentiment previous customers have about a given piece of equipment if you check the manufacturer's website, online forums like Reddit, YoutTube and blogs like ours.
In our opinion belt squats are absolutely worth the investment. Although the belt squat machine is used mainly for squatting movements there are a number of exercises that can be done with one. However, those that suffer from back, shoulder or elbow issues that make it unbearable to execute a barbell squat should definitely consider buying a belt squat machine.
We chose the Bells Of Steel Belt Squat Machine as our favorite although if you have a more limited budget then you should consider the Titan Belt Squat Machine. Then the higher-end Rogue Monster Rhino Belt Squat Machine might be a better choice for commercial gyms. Some other honorable mentions that didn't make our list are the Wenning belt squat machine, Squatmax MD belt squat machine and the Pit Shark machine.
We wouldn't say that the belt squat is better than traditional barbell squats but in certain situations, the belt squat is far superior. In the situations where you want to limit the load on the spine and shoulders yet still get in a great lower body workout on the glutes, quads, and hammies then the belt squat is a clear winner.
The Rhino belt squat is a fantastic piece of equipment and Rogue really thought through the design and function of it. Compared to other premium options that go for over $2k we believe the Rhino is by far the best option.
By now you should get the point that belt squat machines could be the answer to your prayers if you struggle with traditional squats but still want to crush a lower body workout. As we mentioned above, you'll get the same muscle activation of the major leg muscles without the added stress on the back and trunk.
Belt squat machines can be an awesome addition to any home gym so don't be surprised if you buy one then your lifting buddies want to come over all the time to use it!
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