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    Registered User Heisman2's Avatar
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    A list of pros/cons of the various belt squat options?

    Hey all,

    I see people mentioning getting belt squats a lot. I'm curious what are the general thoughts of pros/cons of the different types. Is there a list of various exercises that would be well suited for a cable-based system such as the Rogue Rhino that couldn't be done with a lever-based system or the Squatmax-MD? Is there anterior shear force placed with the Rogue Rhino when set up optimally that would make it a less attractive option than the Squatmax-MD from a leg development standpoint?

    Just curious what the different opinions are.
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    Registered User adawg837's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Heisman2 View Post
    Hey all,

    I see people mentioning getting belt squats a lot. I'm curious what are the general thoughts of pros/cons of the different types. Is there a list of various exercises that would be well suited for a cable-based system such as the Rogue Rhino that couldn't be done with a lever-based system or the Squatmax-MD? Is there anterior shear force placed with the Rogue Rhino when set up optimally that would make it a less attractive option than the Squatmax-MD from a leg development standpoint?

    Just curious what the different opinions are.
    You can divide the options into the following:
    1. Cable based Belt Squats
    2. Lever arm Belt Squats
    3. Loading Pin Style Belt Squats

    Cable based Belt squats are where you have a platform with a cable attachment loop below you, and through a series of pulleys you are pulling a weight carriage vertically on a column usually mounted in front of you. Examples:
    -Rogue Rhino
    -EliteFTS Belt Squat
    -Sorinex (old unit, no longer made)
    -Legend Belt Squat (and Westside)
    -Texas Power Systems belt squat. They also make an add-on belt squat platform that works with their lat pull-down.
    -the new Rep Fitness add-on for their new rack, but this requires lat-pull option as well
    -Arsenal Strength Belt Squat - cable motion to the belt, with a lever arm for the weight itself. Unique brand-new design.

    Lever arm belt squats are just as the name suggests- lever based. Typically using pillow block bearings and a solid steel lever arm where your belt simply hooks into a series of holes at the front of the lever. Examples:
    -Matt Wenning Belt squat
    -Titan belt squat
    -Edge Fitness Systems belt Squat (option for combo hip thrust available)
    -Bells of Steel belt squat
    -Atlantis belt squat
    -Pit Shark (tall and short)
    -landmine based as well, usually using some step up blocks to get larger range of motion as the plates will hit the ground
    -Sorinex JxSquat lever arm, can use with rack or rig
    -RawMotiveWorks belt squat


    Loading Pin Style belt squats in their simplest iteration just use a loading pin with plates directly below you. However you would need a platform or frame to stand on for range of motion. Examples:
    -SquatMD - can be freestanding or bolted to a rack.
    -John Parrillo
    -Fortis Fitness Belt squat

    There are advantages/disadvantages to all versions. Generally you will hear people say the lever-style are cheaper/less complex but will slightly "pull" you forwards due to the arc of the lever pivot. It depends on how you look at this, some people seem to actually like this effect. The cable based systems pull straight down, although based on foot position you can of course change this to your advantage. The loading pin versions are similar to the cable, except now you have to be fairly high up off the ground for enough range-of-motion of the weight pin and plates. That would seem to be a disadvantage in some home gym scenarios where ceiling height might be limited.

    I think if I had to pick right at this moment, I would go with a cable based system like the Rogue Rhino. Coop from Homegym community made a hybrid rack combo using this to do all kinds of cable work plus a full squat rack. He has a youtube where he goes through everything he did to build it. Rogue makes three versions - standalone, drop in and a monster rack version. I also have had my eye on the Texas Power one as I like the idea of the bigger/taller platform - looks like they just redesigned it. I think the lever based designs are fine, but it seems to me from a home-gym standpoint you'd get more bang for your buck to get a machine that could do more than pretty much just belt squats. Of course creative types could do "bonus" exercises on the lever style, but it just seems inherently easier to use a cable-based belt squat machine. I think the loading pin versions present the absolute least amount of secondary exercises possible.
    Last edited by adawg837; 11-20-2020 at 07:37 PM. Reason: Added Edge Fitness
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  3. #3
    Registered User urbanlifter's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by adawg837 View Post
    I think the lever based designs are fine, but it seems to me from a home-gym standpoint you'd get more bang for your buck to get a machine that could do more than pretty much just belt squats.
    Decent post laying out all the different options, but missed the mark on the above comment. Also, need to add Edge Fitness Systems to the lever belt squat list. Ultimately the cable driven systems will provide the most versatility, but not in terms and anything important and the leverage machines are not far off TBH (bent over rows, shrugs, calf raises, deadlifts, stiff legged deadlifts, curls for the girls, upright rows, ect). In fact Edge takes that a step farther and has a package where you can add a hip thrust attachment along with a multi-use landmine handle. But I've seen Coop's monstrosity and I must say that even though he presents it as something revolutionary, I've done weighted pullups and dips on a belt squat pulley system that I created a while back and I wouldn't waste the money on a 'Coop Squat'. But in reality you could also accomplish the same thing on a leverage machine with a little ingenuity (ceiling mounted pullup bar / mobile dip station).

    Best budget unit on the market is without a doubt the Titan Belt Squat, 5-10% off coupons are common and you get rewards points on top of that. That should put you somewhere between $500-$550 shipped which also includes a belt, slap a 1/2" thick TSC mat on top of the platform and you have a really nice looking belt squat machine. If the Titan name bothers you I'd go with BOS or Edge at comparable prices, with the Rogue Rhino being the best premium option if you have money to burn. But that's just my $0.02
    Last edited by urbanlifter; 11-20-2020 at 04:24 AM.
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    Registered User glossyMac17's Avatar
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    For those with back issues, is there a particular type of belt squat that provides traction and is overall more accommodating/beneficial?
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    Registered User urbanlifter's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by glossyMac17 View Post
    For those with back issues, is there a particular type of belt squat that provides traction and is overall more accommodating/beneficial?
    Overall it's my opinion that they all accomplish the same thing, the belt rests on your hips reducing spinal load. Some manufacturers (cough, SquatMaxMD, cough) push minimal research in an attempt to prove how much more effective their machines are than others, through the use of bands and the load position being directly beneath you. But it's just a marketing ploy when you dig into the actual studies, I've used both leverage and cable belt squats and noticed no noticeable difference in leg development. They do feel slightly different due to the arc mentioned above, but nothing substantial from what I have felt. Which can also be manipulated through various foot positioning and elevation. It's also worth mentioning that Edge feels slightly different, because their arm is 100% parallel to the floor at the bottom position, a different feel than what you get with the Titan style machines as it doesn't pull you forward as much.
    Last edited by urbanlifter; 11-20-2020 at 06:18 AM.
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    Registered User ncsuLuke's Avatar
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    I have the SquatmaxMD and haven't used any other so I will only comment on it. The pros, it feels really really good for squats. I can blow up my legs and glutes and it doesn't feel all that different from a back squat from the hips down. It is also pretty easy to move in place and the standalone model that is out now looks nicer than the rack attached model. You also don't have to load that much weight since it is a 1:1 ratio and if you use bands it gets even spicier.

    The cons are it can be annoying to load if you don't have grip plates. With my 6-shooters it's super easy but when I used to just have bumpers it was really annoying. The one way to make it a lot easier is to mix in 5 or 10 lb plates between 45s and then it is pretty easy. If you go to failure it is REALLY annoying to unload the weight so you can get it back up but I have rarely gone to true failure so minor issue. If you want to use it for RDLs or rows or anything like that and you workout alone, it is really annoying to get it down to the bottom position and vice versa. If you have someone to help you it wouldn't be bad at all but it reduces the whole versatility thing if you are solo. I personally don't care about doing rows with my belt squat, I have plenty of other ways to do rows.

    Final verdict, I think it is an excellent piece that does what a belt squat should. The only other option I'd probably consider is the Rhino but if I was building my gym from scratch I don't know how much I'd prioritize a belt squat at all tbh. It was great when I was injured but now I'd be content with barbell/dumbbell variations. I still get a lot of use out of it though and definitely don't plan on selling.
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    Originally Posted by urbanlifter View Post
    Decent post laying out all the different options, but missed the mark on the above comment. Also, need to add Edge Fitness Systems to the lever belt squat list. Ultimately the cable driven systems will provide the most versatility, but not in terms and anything important and the leverage machines are not far off TBH (bent over rows, shrugs, calf raises, deadlifts, stiff legged deadlifts, curls for the girls, upright rows, ect). In fact Edge takes that a step farther and has a package where you can add a hip thrust attachment along with a multi-use landmine handle. But I've seen Coop's monstrosity and I must say that even though he presents it as something revolutionary, I've done weighted pullups and dips on a belt squat pulley system that I created a while back and I wouldn't waste the money on a 'Coop Squat'. But in reality you could also accomplish the same thing on a leverage machine with a little ingenuity (ceiling mounted pullup bar / mobile dip station).

    Best budget unit on the market is without a doubt the Titan Belt Squat, 5-10% off coupons are common and you get rewards points on top of that. That should put you somewhere between $500-$550 shipped which also includes a belt, slap a 1/2" thick TSC mat on top of the platform and you have a really nice looking belt squat machine. If the Titan name bothers you I'd go with BOS or Edge at comparable prices, with the Rogue Rhino being the best premium option if you have money to burn. But that's just my $0.02
    Thanks, I forgot about edge fitness - I had been reviewing their unit a while back. I have their standing back extension unit - real unique piece. Agree on the Titan, plus you can finance through Bread. I bought a few machines from Titan about 6 months ago including Reverse Hyper, Tibia, etc with this option. Titan doesn't bother me. Wasn't there a V2 version coming out that addressed some minor issues a few people had with the first version? Something about being on the edge of the platform based on the lever length?
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    Only one i've used is the Pit Shark. I've used it with Olympic lifting shoes, facing the handles, my back to the handles, close and far away from the pivot point...i'll only speak for myself here; it never really hit my quads well. Yes, it's not the same as an OLY hams to calves squat and it feels more like a low bar hip dominant squat but still, i always had high hopes that i'd be able to find a way to really make it work for quads. I've heard some guys say it was great for their quads. Not me though.

    I'm tallish, about 6'1 and in general long-limbed so maybe that had something to do with it. Now i'm not saying it's a bad piece or that it's useless...not at all. I just figured out that for me, it cannot come close to what an OLY squat, hack squat, and lunges would do for my quads and my overall leg development. Some people may make the argument that the belt squat was not designed to hammer your quads or take the place of the above mentioned moves and that's certainly a valid argument. For me though, being that they never did much for my quads i could take them or leave them at this point.

    I should note that i have an old lower back injury and as a result have had to be very creative in training my legs for the last seven years and have had to drop many exercises (well the good ones anyway, bar squats and all DL variations). If anything, i'd probably use these at the very end of a workout after hitting everything else hard. I've never ever used heavy weight with the Pit so can't answer if it's easy on the low back. It never really hurt mine more that it's already hurt but i also only used light weight and high reps. Maybe too much info...
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    Registered User urbanlifter's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by adawg837 View Post
    Thanks, I forgot about edge fitness - I had been reviewing their unit a while back. I have their standing back extension unit - real unique piece. Agree on the Titan, plus you can finance through Bread. I bought a few machines from Titan about 6 months ago including Reverse Hyper, Tibia, etc with this option. Titan doesn't bother me. Wasn't there a V2 version coming out that addressed some minor issues a few people had with the first version? Something about being on the edge of the platform based on the lever length?
    The V2 fixed the biggest two issues of the original design, the lever arm wasn't long enough and the rear plate storage area needed additional support. The first also didn't come with a belt and the j-hooks were not lined with UHMW to help keep things quiet (very minor issue). It's a SOLID belt squat machine, I'm also a big fan of Edge Fitness but the value of the Titan is just impossible to beat. Even the Rogue doesn't have plate storage, which is a huge benefit for these machines...
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    I was a belt squat newbie never used one before so I can't speak for the other brands.But I and ended up buying the standard Belt squat from Edge Fitness.
    I love it. very compact, very sturdy, gets the job done for sure.
    Customer service was good, packaging was very good. Assembly was probably the easiest piece I ever put together. took me longer just to unwrap all the packaging..

    The Titan was out of stock when I ordered mine-I wasn't in a huge rush anyways and always heard good things about Edge so I pulled the trigger with them.
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    I'll add some of my experience. I've had extensive use on both cable/platform and leverage in the form of an old WSB unit that was in Louie's gym years ago (needs someone else to run the pin/plates) and Mech6's leverage unit which is what Sorinex knocked off to design their offering. I've never used a Squatmax or that style so can't comment but they look good outside of space considerations maybe.

    - I would not base my decision on versatility - these do one thing well and then you can get creative but a landmine or basic barbell works fine for rows too (apply this logic to anything else you might consider doing and you'll find multiple options as good). Don't overthink this component.

    - On the above, this is a specialized piece of equipment. You buy it for belt squats and that needs to be very important to you. I use it as an accessory movement to the back squat. Additionally it allows me to get more volume in without more posterior chain loading (think, I can do belt squats after heavy pulls from the floor when the motivation and energy expense for back squats...a lot). Traction benefits...meh...I guess a bit but not like a reverse hyper or probably an inversion table (I don't use those so just throwing it out).

    - Given the first two items. How much money and space are you willing to give up for a squat variant? If neither of those are limiting factors get a platform/cable unit all day long. I would.

    - Space really mattered to me and I'd rather not spend a few thousand on a specialized piece which also takes up a lot of room so I went with the leverage design and a compact one at that. Stands upright at the back of my RML-690 and I just pull it down when needed. Optimal solution for my needs and saved me a lot of $$ too vs a Rhino or similar.

    - Having only used the platform/cable design before I've been very happy with the leverage model. Had it for a year or more now. I'd say it's up to 95% of the full cable/platform model so huge win for me saving money and space. Just ensure the arm is long enough to minimize the arc through the range as essentially you want the resistance directly below you and to stay there. You will see a lot of videos of guys set up way back with the chain heavily angled pulling them forward...don't ask me why. They should watch their own video and fix it by moving forward. Maybe whoever built the units had the plates too close to the attachment point. No idea but I see this A LOT.

    I use the Rogue belt squat belt. Very happy with it - wanted to try something different. I've used old leather ones which were also fine and I'm sure Spud's is decent as well.
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    I have a lever arm belt squat that a fabricator made for me. Pretty much the same spec as wenning. I do like it but i do find in the bottom position the belt moves from my hips to my lower back. I also find it tough on the knees sometimes.

    Before this belt squat I used to stand on two boxes and use my low pulley which would be directly below me. Although awkward to get into place it did feel great squatting with it. If I had the choice I would go with a cable system.
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    Anyone ever use John Parrillo's in Ohio? Squatmax looks very similar to his setup. I've heard great stories about his legendary belt squat in old bodybuilding circles.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETBI...ture=emb_title

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    I just got the Rhino and I really like it. I can’t compare to other types as far as use as I’ve never tried a belt squat before.

    For me ceiling height was an issue so Squat Max MD wouldn’t be the greatest option but does take up less room compared to others.

    Leverage styles with true weight were too wide to fit in my space so that was a factor.

    Something like the Sorinex J-squat was ok but wasn’t that different in price so I went with the Rhino. Other than my FT2 ,the Rhino is the only thing I purchased new and have no regrets. My wife actually ordered it for me when I jokingly forwarded her the back in stock email. Man I love that woman.

    I don’t think you can wrong with any of the belt squat options out there. Cost,amount of room you have and just plain ol preference make options a good thing

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    I have the Bells of Steel v2. Its fantastic. Throw a Spud Front Squat harness on and it's the best way to do good morning ever.
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    Originally Posted by ArnoldHAMnEGGer View Post
    Anyone ever use John Parrillo's in Ohio? Squatmax looks very similar to his setup. I've heard great stories about his legendary belt squat in old bodybuilding circles.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETBI...ture=emb_title

    Little awkward if that man is not her bf/husband, right?
    There was a Parrillo belt squat at a couple of gyms in my hometown. Never saw it get used as you can see you need some spotters. This video shows the whole setup. You don't want one for sure.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVpLjjokyLs
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    Originally Posted by jamesovercome View Post
    I have the Bells of Steel v2. Its fantastic. Throw a Spud Front Squat harness on and it's the best way to do good morning ever.
    Nice..thanks for that tip.
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    Mech's standalone is the best which is "out of stock forever" now . As per the belt , i think Rogue one is better option. I used Spud inc and ironmind dip belt .Rogue one has multiple options based on your waist line.

    Edit.

    Pic below and i will probably change the location and create a small platform (UL's idea) to hold it down to the "ground"

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    Originally Posted by vhd16 View Post
    Mech's standalone is the best which is "out of stock forever" now . As per the belt , i think Rogue one is better option. I used Spud inc and ironmind dip belt .Rogue one has multiple options based on your waist line.

    Edit.

    Pic below and i will probably change the location and create a small platform (UL's idea) to hold it down to the "ground"

    Now that is a great piece of engineering!. Simple ,effective and small amount of space. Mech is a genius.
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    I keep wondering how different a Hatfield Squat actually is from a belt squat......for those who aren't familiar, Hatfield squats are performed with a Safety Squat Bar, and holding onto assist handles or the uprights of the rack itself. The benefit of Hatfield squats has always been that they help to keep your upper body upright, which takes stress off your back. I'm guessing that is a better option for some people than for others, based on body proportions.
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    Originally Posted by rlundregan View Post
    I keep wondering how different a Hatfield Squat actually is from a belt squat......for those who aren't familiar, Hatfield squats are performed with a Safety Squat Bar, and holding onto assist handles or the uprights of the rack itself. The benefit of Hatfield squats has always been that they help to keep your upper body upright, which takes stress off your back. I'm guessing that is a better option for some people than for others, based on body proportions.
    The big diff I noticed is with Belt SQ your glutes really get fired up

    I am currently doing box SQ’s with SSB and use band pegs to rest my hands due to left knee issue .So not exactly Hatfield SQ’s but close enough
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    Originally Posted by rlundregan View Post
    I keep wondering how different a Hatfield Squat actually is from a belt squat......for those who aren't familiar, Hatfield squats are performed with a Safety Squat Bar, and holding onto assist handles or the uprights of the rack itself. The benefit of Hatfield squats has always been that they help to keep your upper body upright, which takes stress off your back. I'm guessing that is a better option for some people than for others, based on body proportions.
    Very very different. SSB hits different people in different ways. Still loads the spine - very significantly for some builds. I have both - other than leg driven and you can use handles almost no comparison.
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    Thanks to both of you for chiming in on that!
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    Originally Posted by vhd16 View Post
    The big diff I noticed is with Belt SQ your glutes really get fired up

    I am currently doing box SQ’s with SSB and use band pegs to rest my hands due to left knee issue .So not exactly Hatfield SQ’s but close enough
    I agree with this.I have only had the Belt squat for a week and I noticed the glute activation especially when legs are a little wider and toes pointing out. I really like the belt squat a lot so far.

    I have a BWTG SSB and it feels a lot different. Definitely loads the spine more but I still like using it. It does want to pull you over frontwards but it’s not bad. I use the handles and I like it. I struggle with a barbell on my back but the SSB and the Rhino seem to really help me. I should clarify that I have a bad back
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