Even a novice to the iron game knows the squat is king of the leg workouts. One of my personal favorites. But what about people with back problems? Enter the Belt Squat Machine 2.0 from Bells of Steel. The Belt Squat Machine 2.0 allows lifters to get every bit the squat workout without a barbell on their back. And yes, these types of units are tough to find even in gyms. They also double as a deadlift machine, row machine, bicep blaster, and more. For $999.99, it’s a low-cost way to maximize space in a gym.
Peer reviewed studies demonstrate that belt squatting provides comparable benefits to the barbell squat. But, there’s less stress on the trunk stabilizers and spine. Measuring 51″ x 40″ x 35.5″ at 264 pounds, the machine boats a weight capacity of 700 pounds. Constructed from heavy-duty, 2.3″ x 2.3″ 11-gauge steel, the Belt Squat Machine 2.0 comes with a black powder coating and sleek look.
If you’re shopping for strength training equipment for your home gym, check out this hands-on review and detailed spec analysis below. After that, check out our review of the best squat racks on the market.
|Model||Bells of Steel|
|Type||Belt Squat Machine|
|Max. Weight||700 lbs|
|Workout Area||60' x 60' (approx.)|
|Accessories||Chains, belt, and attachments|
This is a dream machine for powerlifters, bodybuilder, or any strength athlete that values lower body power. I went to the Bells of Steel showroom in Indianapolis for an afternoon of use. There are actually more than 10 different exercises one can perform with this machine. Those would include: The belt squat, lunges, Bulgarian split squat, belt marches, calf raises, deadlifts, bent-over-rows, one-arm rows, bicep curls, and Sumo squats. As a competitive bodybuilder and powerlifter myself, I can actually come up with a lot more though. That said, a 10-in-1 machine is a valuable one indeed.
I like the 30-day money-back guarantee, lifetime warranty, and free shipping. Considering the unique engineering here, customers should have no problems though. The machine is constructed from 11-gauge steel measuring 2.3″ x 2.3″ with 0-gauge connection plates. Purchase includes the heavy duty 4″ belt, chain, and attachments. This unit uses six bushings. Four are on the primary pivot and two on the safety. The action on this unit is much smoother than those with simple bolts. The weight capacity is 700 pounds meaning it will not be outgrown. The entire machine weighs 264 pounds and is free-standing, so no bolt-down is required.
These kinds of machines are typically only found in powerlifting gyms. If you’re looking for a way to squat without a barbell, this is definitely the way to go.
- High weight capacity of 700 pounds
- More than 10 workout stations in one machine
- Same benefits of barbell squats without spinal pressure
- Plate-loaded resistance
- No spotter required
- Compatible with Olympic weight plates
- Compact footprint
- Heavy steel construction
- Low price relative to the durability
- Solid warranty
- Assembly required
- Requires solid flooring
Bells of Steel Belt Squat Machine 2.0 versus the competition
A specialty item, belt squat machines are doggone nice to have but hard to find. Particularly for a price under $1,000. The closest comparable for a hard core leg workout sans the barbell would be the Force USA Leg Press-Hack Squat Machine. I’d also offer up the or the French Fitness FSR90 Functional Trainer and Squat Rack in terms of function. When you consider the difference in price though, there’s no comparison.
The Force USA Leg Press-Hack Squat Machine would be recognized as a leg press or hip sled. A 4-in-1 machine, it’s a 45-degree leg press, calf raise, hack squat, and forward thruster. Priced at $2,299.99, it’s more than double the Belt Squat Machine 2.0’s $999.99. Measuring 66″ x 94″ 60″ and weighing 463 pounds, the Force USA model can handle up to 1,000 pounds in weight capacity and is constructed using 13-gauage steel.
The FSR-90 from French Fitness runs $3,699 but brings an all-in-one approach to the game. This unit features a power rack, Smith Machine, functional trainer, landmine station, dip bars, pull-up station, lat pull-down, Jammer Arms, and vertical leg press. The Smith Machine has a maximum weight capacity of 600 pounds and a total machine max of 992. The functional trainer offers two 220-pound weight stacks. Measuring 88″ x 65″ x 88″ the machine also brings a 10-year warranty.
There’s no question, legs matter in a workout. Priced under $1,000, it’s hard to beat frankly and is much more than a novelty piece.
Working Out on The Belt Squat Machine 2.0
This is the fun part. This machine offers both a top-loading and side-loading mechanism. What this means is you can adjust the weight horns into an upright or horizontal position. The benefit to using it in a top-loading position is the room it provides for lifting. The top-loading position lets you go deeper down onto the platform as you squat downward. The benefit to the side position is easy to placement. Anyone who’s ever stacked plates on atop the other knows the frustration of pinched fingers. I tried both myself and found the engineering of the machine easy to use.
Once the weights are stacked, slip on the belt and attach it to the machine. This belt squat machine uses a lever system. Once you stand upright with the belt and chain attached, simply slip the lever to free weight, and then squat up and down. The machine’s bars can also be used for deadlifts, curls, and several other exercises. Now keep in mind, when using this machine your weight will be separated from the center of mass. Unlike a barbell squat where the bar is directly atop the shoulders, this belt and chain attachment will create a slight angling. The good news is you’ll be able to utilize a much higher poundage on this machine than say a barbell squat. It offers less stress on the spine, and also slightly less core and glute activation. However, studies demonstrate that hamstring, quad, and plantar flexor activation is unchanged between the two styles.
Remember that the body doesn’t really understand poundage in terms of numbers, rather in tension and resistance. This machine will definitely let you make a big dent in those muscle fibers. It also lets you go down much further yet into the dip we call a squat. The challenge with barbell squats is your body wants to lean forward when breaking parallel and dropping your tail toward the floor. This presents a danger to the knees. That’s pleasantly removed with this machine.
I added in some calf raises just for fun. This is a multi-use piece of equipment and if you’re looking to get a bang for the buck, it’s good.
Warranty & Guarantee
The Bells of Steel Belt Squat Machine 2.0 warranty includes:
- Lifetime Warranty on the Machine
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Free shipping
Is It Worth It?
If you’re looking for a hard core leg workout without the danger, look no further. The Bells of Steel Belt Squat Machine 2.0 removes the need for a spotter and gives you comparable benefits to a barbell squat. A cool machine, it’s priced at just $999.99 with free shipping. Simple to use, I’d say anyone looking to step out from under the bar can figure this out. If you have a home gym but don’t want to perform barbell squats in a cage, this is the way to go.