The Westside Barbell Belt Squat Machine!


The Westside Barbell powerlifting team uses many machines to build the squat and deadlift. One of their all-time favorite machines is the belt squat!

Introduction

  • Part 1: What Is The Belt Squat?
  • Part 2: Belt Squat Exercises
  • Part 3: Sample Westside Workouts

In this comprehensive guide I will teach you how the Westside Barbell powerlifting team uses the belt squat machine to build the squat and deadlift.

The belt squat machine was invented by the powerlifting coach Louie Simmons in 1975. Louie says that the belt squat is a superior exercise because it overloads the glutes and hamstrings while providing traction to your lumbar spine.

In other words it makes you stronger and it rehabilitates your lower back all at the same time!

Here is a perfect demonstration of the belt squat machine:

The belt squat machine has a cable device that comes up through the area where you are standing. The cable attaches to your belt and pulls the belt down to the ground.

If you use 200 pounds on the machine then you will have an extra 200 pounds of cable resistance pulling down on your belt.

The belt squat machine is unique because it lets you train the muscles that help you squat without having to put a heavy barbell on your back.

Research shows that it does as good of a job as regular back squats for recruiting the quads, hamstrings and glutes (1). It also provides a traction force to your lower back and helps to realign your pelvis.

The best belt squat in the world is produced by Rogue Fitness. Here is where you can get your own:

The Rogue Fitness Belt Squat Machine

Louie Simmons teamed up with Rogue Fitness because he knows they produce the highest quality equipment in the world. Here is Louie Simmons describing this incredible piece of equipment:

“I invented the belt squat in 1975. It’s absolutely the most incredible one piece of equipment. The cable device pulling downward will actually help correct pelvic tilt and it takes the pressure off your lower back.

An incredible amount of volume can be done on the belt squat and the reverse hyper. The reason being? Traction. As we work out we’re getting instant restoration. So those are two pieces of equipment we live on.”

The Westside Barbell powerlifting team uses the belt squat as one of their primary lower body accessory exercises. For example here is how they organize their dynamic effort lower body workouts:

The Westside Barbell Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Workout

  • Exercise #1: Speed squat, 6-10 sets of 2 reps, 1 minute rest
  • Exercise #2: Speed deadlift, 6-10 sets of 1 rep, 1 minute rest
  • Exercise #3: Hamstrings, 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps, 1 minute rest
  • Exercise #4: Lower back, 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps, 1 minute rest

The Westside Barbell powerlifting team usually performs 2 accessory exercises on their squat / deadlift workouts: 1 for the hamstrings and 1 for the lower back.

The belt squat is one of their favorite hamstrings exercises but they also perform plenty of inverse leg curls and glute ham raises as well. One of the great things about the belt squat machine is there are many different ways to perform the exercise for added variety.

Louie Simmons almost always has his athletes perform this machine like a box squat where they squat back to a box. This forces your glutes and hamstrings to work even harder.

The Westside team also likes to add band tension to make the exercise more challenging. One strategy is to use a band under your feet and over your neck. Check it out:

Belt Squat Bands Shoulder

The extra band tension makes the exercise feel like a hybrid between a belt squat machine and a good morning. This is a great way to add extra variety to your workouts if you have been training for a long period of time.

Another strategy is to add bands around your hips that pull your hips backwards as you perform the exercise. Check it out:

Belt Squat Bands Hips

This variation is excellent for recruiting more muscle fibers in your glutes.

If you are creative enough then there are ways to perform many unique exercises using the belt squat machine. For example you can perform a hybrid belt squat / rack deadlift. Check it out:

Westside Belt Squat Deadlift

This exercise may look crazy but it has been used by the 4x World’s Strongest Man Brian Shaw among other people.

Another great exercise variation is the squat pull through. This exercise is performed with you holding onto the cable using a V-handle rather than attaching the cable to your belt. Check it out:

Squat Pull Through

The squat pull through is almost like a goblet squat where you hold a dumbbell in between your hands and squat down. It works all of the squatting muscles such as the hamstrings, glutes and hips but without loading the lumbar spine.

Actually this exercise feels like a hybrid between a belt squat, a pull through and a deadlift!

Another interesting exercise that you can perform is standing marches. Check it out:

Westside Belt Squat Marches

Louie Simmons likes to perform this as an endurance exercise. It is a great way to get the benefits of unilateral work to make sure your legs are equally strong.

It is also a great strategy for providing traction to your lumbar spine. The cable attachment pulls down on your belt which increases the space between your lumbar vertebrae.

This pumps rejuvenating spinal fluid into the discs in between your lumbar vertebrae which is extremely beneficial for long-term lower back health.

Here is Louie Simmons describing marches with the belt squat machine:

“This machine is a tremendous leg developer. It will also traction out the spine because the weight will align the pelvis and pull the pelvic into line.”

By now I am sure you realize the benefits of the Rogue belt squat machine. Now let’s look at some sample workouts where the Westside Barbell powerlifting team used this machine as one of their accessory exercises.

Here is a sample Westside Barbell max effort squat / deadlift workout. Check it out:

Westside Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: Matt deadlift (2 inch matts), 3 sets of 1 rep
  • Exercise #2: Back attack machine with bands, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #3: Belt squat machine, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video:

This is an extremely simple workout performed by the Westside Barbell powerlifting team. They perform their max effort exercise followed by 2 accessory exercises for their lower body.

The back attack machine is used to target the lower back while the belt squat machine is used to target the hamstrings.

Here is another sample Westside workout using the belt squat machine. Check it out:

Westside Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: Buffalo bar box squat, 3 sets of 1 rep
  • Exercise #2: Back attack machine with bands, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #3: Belt squat machine, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

Here is the training video:

This workout looks almost exactly like the previous one. Once again the Westside team uses the belt squat to attack the hamstrings and the back attack machine to attack the lower back.

If you want to learn more about the back attack machine then make sure you check out my article “Westside Barbell Lower Back Machines: The Ultimate Guide!

Conclusion

The belt squat machine is one of the most important pieces of strength training equipment ever invented. It is unique because it trains the lower body while providing traction to the lower back.

The reverse hyperextension is the only other exercise that also does this.

If you are serious about taking your squat and deadlift to the next level then investing in a Westside belt squat machine is the obvious choice. Here is where you can get yours:

The Rogue Belt Squat Machine

Here is one more quote by Louie Simmons to pump you up even more:

“Don’t have $100.00 shoes and a 10 cent squat.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

References

  1. Joseph L, Reilly J, Sweezey K, Waugh R, Carlson LA, Lawrence MA. Activity of Trunk and Lower Extremity Musculature: Comparison Between Parallel Back Squats and Belt Squats. J Hum Kinet. 2020;72:223-228. Published 2020 Mar 31. doi:10.2478/hukin-2019-0126

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

Thanks for checking out my site! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen and I'm the founder of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to reach your size and strength goals faster then you've come to the right place. My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world. So grab a seat, kick back and relax. There's never been a better time to lift weights or to learn the art and science of strength training program design.

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