The 12 Best Alternatives to Belt Squats (No Machine Required) | Horton's Bar (2023)

The belt squat is a variation of the squat that doesn't require axial loading (basically putting a barbell on your shoulders). Anyone who has had back problems and has been able to use the belt squat as a substitute will tell you how valuable it can be.

This brings me to the first point I really want to emphasize:

If you are squatting belts because of a back problem or other limitation, you should discuss any new exercises with your doctor or athletic trainer.. I have no way of knowing your individual situation and how you might react to any other exercise.

However, if you train with no restrictions, but maybe also with a belt squat machine, I'll give you 12 of my favorite belt squat alternatives.

Belt squat alternatives

I've tried to include as much variety as possible in this list of alternatives. There are exercises that involve different equipment: barbells, dumbbells and even exercises that don't require any equipment. There are also exercises for beginners and others more suitable for advanced users.

Finally, there are traditional exercises, as well as some that are a little more "out of the box".

I hope that at least one of these exercises is suitable for what you are looking for.


The 12 Best Alternatives to Belt Squats (No Machine Required) | Horton's Bar (1)

I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but if you're squatting because you can't squat then obviously they wouldn't be a good alternative.

However, if you can do squats (or can be taught them by a qualified trainer), I recommend incorporating them into your strength training program, as it's the single best move you can do to build strength. Period.

Necessary equipment

  • squat device


  • When configuring forsquat, Athletes choose between high bar and low bar position. (I personally teach the high bar position with athletes)
  • Regardless of the location of the bar,the athlete must actively contract and retract the shouldersto create a shelf for the bar to rest on.
  • In general, the athlete should place the hands as close together as possible, which will help maintain upper body rigidity and allow room for the barbell to rest.
  • After proper acclimatization, the athlete pulls the bar and removes it from the beams, takes a deep breath,strengthen your core, and begins the eccentric portion of your squat.


  • While the athlete maintains firm support in the core and tension in the upper back (as mentioned in the Setup section), the athlete initiates the lowering of the bar by simultaneous hip flexion and hip flexion until hip flexion is below the knee.
  • The most important part of range of motion is bringing the muscle to its full eccentric length, showing that athletes continue to benefit from squatting as low as their mobility allows. As soon as the athlete reaches his lowest position in the squat, he moves from the eccentric part to the concentric part.
  • The concentric portion of the squat involves the athlete exiting the hole through a combination of knee and hip extension.
  • When athletes come out of the hole, they often experience sticking points in the hole or when they are just over par. This may vary based on each athlete's relative strengths and weaknesses or some technical mistakes discussed later.
  • Once the athlete has completed the repetition, he or she exhales and begins the next repetition or brings the bar back.

training points

It is better to place the safety devices too low rather than too high, as the athlete can unhook the bar from the back or lean forward until the bar touches the safety devices. If the studs are set too high, there is a chance that the bar will collide with them during the exercise.

front squat

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The only exercise that comes close to the back squat is the front squat. It's more technical (and maybe not for some), but the front squat is a great alternative to the belt squat if you can do it right.

(Video) DIY Belt Squat Machine (Home Gym Hacks)

Necessary equipment

  • squat device
  • fenders or iron plates
  • ropes to carry(optional if needed)

step by step instructions

  • Adjust the height of the squat rack so that the bar is 1 to 2 inches below the bent elbow (elbow points towards the squat rack before removing the weight from the hooks).
  • One of the first considerations to make is which grip you want to use to perform front squats.
  • Later in this article I'll talk about the different holds and the reasons for each hold.
  • For now, I'm assuming you're using a clean two-finger grip. (Most commonly used by athletes).
  • Approach the bar and place it very close to your neck.
  • Raise your elbows and the bar should rest on your raised anterior delts. You are now holding the bar in what is called a "front-rack" position.
  • Using the front rack, lift the bar from the hooks. I recommend a staggered stance for lifting the barbell off the barbell.
  • Take 2 steps back and place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Slightly pointed toes.
  • Keep a strong front shelf, take a deep breath and strengthen your core.
  • Begin the squat by leaning your hips back while bending your knees.
  • Lower yourself into a controlled squat until the curve of your hips is slightly below your knee. (Most experts consider this to be parallel or nearly parallel.)
  • At this point, the core should be tight, the front rack strong, the elbows high and the lifter ready to step out of the "hole" and lift the weight again.
  • Balancing one foot with a strong arch, drive through your heels and hips until you're back at the top of the movement and ready for the next rep.


  • Clean grip with 1 or 2 fingers. This is the most common grip used by Olympic athletes and weightlifters. This trains the specific position the bar would be in on a cleanup and is therefore of great benefit to these athletes.
  • Crossed arms. This is a common grip for athletes who want all the benefits of the front squat but may lack flexibility or need a toe grip.
  • ropes to carry. This allows the practitioner to reach the front rack position, targeting the upper back muscles and taking a lot of stress off the fingers and wrists.

training points

Be patient with your flexibility. Persistence and hard work on your flexibility will pay offfront squat. Always remember to warm up before each workout. Also, work on flexibility exercises during your warm-up sets. After the session, use cool-down, foam rolling, stretching and hydration techniques.

hack squat

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Ahack squatIt's a mix of back squats and belt squats. It's a machine like the belt squat, but the hack squat is performed standing with the weight on your shoulders.

In my opinion, they're still not as good as free weight squats, but if you can, they can be a good alternative to belt squats.

Necessary equipment

  • Hack Squat Machine

muscles worked

It will vary slightly depending on the equipment, but the legs and glutes should always be heavily involved:

  • Quads
  • buttocks
  • knee tendons

step by step instructions

  • Position yourself on the squat machine* with your back against the pad and your shoulders under the shoulder pads.
  • Place your feet on the platform shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing slightly outward.
  • Grasp the handles on both sides of the machine (if equipped).
  • Inhale and strengthen your core.
  • Slowly lower your body, bending at the knees and hips, keeping your head up and back straight.
  • Continue lowering your body until your thighs are parallel with the platform your feet are on.
  • Then drive through the feet to raise the body to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

training points

*Not all hack squat machines are created equal. Technique, muscles worked and more can vary depending on the specific machine you are using. When in doubt, talk to someone about using your gym equipment.

You should (especially if you are a beginner) always start lightly with any exercise and gradually work your way up to heavier weights. This is even more important when you are working with a machine you are not familiar with. Always familiarize yourself with the machine before adding weight.

Deadlift with trap bar

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The trap bar deadlift is not a squat, but it is a belt squat alternative that can still build a ton of lower body strength. Using a trapeze barbell (instead of a barbell) makes this variation a little more beginner-friendly.

Necessary equipment

  • Trap Bar (aka Hex Bar)
  • Plates (preferably guard plates, but iron plates can also be used if needed).

step by step instructions


  • Enter the trap bar.
  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Turn your feet slightly outward (with your buttocks).
  • Take deep breaths to strengthen your abdominal muscles.
  • Limb at the waist while bending the knee until you can grab the bar handles.
  • As you push yourself into the ready position, maintain a neutral posture with your head, eyes on something about 1 to 2 feet in front of you.
  • In the final build position, pull your chest up and shoulder blades back while holding your abs and prepare to lift.


  • Start by pulling the bar "slack". Here the lifter must create tension by gently pulling on the bar and pressing the feet into the floor prior to maximal contraction/attempts.
  • Once this tension is established, the lifter pushes the feet into the floor, pushing the hips forward and maintaining tension in the abdomen and upper back (WE DON'T ROUND BACK), with the hand position remaining over the midfoot, the lifter stands with the barbell and locks the rep.
  • It is important that each repetition is locked and controlled at the top end of the movement. This is considered an isometric hold. This wait usually only needs to be around 1 second.
  • After holding the repetition for about 1 second, the lifter is ready to lower the weight. Take a deep breath and keep your core and shoulder blades engaged. The hips are pushed back and the knees are bent at the same time.
  • The weight should be held in a midfoot position. The athlete will continue to lower the bar until the weights are on the floor and ready for the next repetition.

training points

Easily the most common mistake forDeadlift with trap barThey allow your back to round out and put unnecessary strain on your back. Keep your back straight and core strong throughout the movement.

Don't bounce the barbell off the floor between reps. Yes, bouncing off the floorboards on your next rep can make lifting easier, but it's also a great way to mess up your technique. Reset for each repetition.

Unlike standard weight barsThe weight of hex bars can vary from bar to bar.. Keep this in mind when using fixed weights outside of your training program.


single leg squat

Single leg squats require very little equipment, let alone a belted squat machine. It's also an incredibly challenging exercise, much harder than it sounds.

It is an excellent belt squat alternative that, like the belt squat, does not require axial loading (putting a barbell on your back).

Necessary equipment

  • An extremely stable box or bank
  • A partner to hold the side of the box as a counterweight if needed.

step by step instructions

  • Stand with one leg down and the other extending over the side of the box to the right.
  • Start the squat by twisting your waist while bending your knee.
  • Lower until your hip crease is just below your knee.
  • Keep your heel flat and your center of gravity over your midfoot.
  • Keep your torso as vertical as possible. Sometimes keeping your arms straight from here helps improve your balance and core position.
  • Once you hit depth, drive through the heel, keeping your foot flat and upright.

training points

One leg squat off a boxis by far one of the most difficult variants of single leg training. Proper progression must be maintained to prepare the athlete for such movement.

Step-up com barra

The barbell step-up is another one-legged move that can be a great alternative to the belt squat. If the barbell is an issue, you can always use dumbbells.

professional advice: Chest height plays a very important role in emphasizing the muscles. A taller frame will target the glutes and hamstrings more, while a shorter frame will target the quads more.

Necessary equipment

  • squat device
  • A very stable platform. (Ideally a strong, heavy, well-balanced box or bench)

step by step instructions

  • Adjust the bar to the height you would normally use for squats.
  • Use the high bar squat position for this exercise.
  • Use a box height that allows your hip and knee flexion to be as similar as possible to your stride when running or jumping.
  • Take the weight off, place one foot on the box and lift the knee of the other leg.
  • Leg movement should be quick and explosive. (Quick tip: Keep the foot of the lifted leg pointed towards your shin.)
  • Engage your glutes and pause quickly at the end of the movement.
  • Carefully lower the leg back and prepare for the next rep.

training points

A stable box cannot be overestimated here. If the box is not stable, please do notcane steps.

lunge with dumbbells

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You're probably already familiar with dumbbell lunges, as they're one of the most popular lower-body strength exercises. However, they're popular for a reason: lunges are an extremely effective move for building strong legs.

Necessary equipment

  • dumbbells


  • Grab two dumbbells, one in each hand.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and engage your lats to create a stable spine that strengthens your upper body.
  • Once you've freed up enough rack space (or where you got it from), you're ready to start moving.
  • Step forward with one leg and give yourself enough space to comfortably step forward without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Keep your chest as straight as possible and lower your back knee about an inch off the floor.
  • Now drive through the heel and middle of the front foot to come back.
  • Repeat with the other leg, alternating from side to side until all repetitions are complete.

Training points (fixes common bugs)

when you leavelunges with dumbbells, make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart. If you feel too off-balance in your lunge, there's a good chance you'll step your front foot directly in front of your back foot (essentially tightrope walking).

Bulgarian split squat

The 12 Best Alternatives to Belt Squats (No Machine Required) | Horton's Bar (6)

The newest single leg belt squat alternative is the Bulgarian squat. The Bulgarian squat is a great move that completely takes most of the opposite leg out of the movement, allowing all the effort to be concentrated on the front leg.

Necessary equipment

  • Dumbbells (or kettlebells)
  • Bank, box or pilebumper plates(basically anything sturdy enough and big enough to put your foot in)


  • Grab two dumbbells, one in each hand.
  • Stand in front of your bench, bring one foot back and place it on the bench. Make sure you are comfortable and balanced before proceeding.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and engage your lats to create a stable spine that supports your upper body and prevents the dumbbells from bouncing unnecessarily.
  • Keep your chest as straight as possible and lower your back knee about an inch off the floor.
  • Now drive through the heel and middle of the front foot to come back.
  • Repeat until you complete all reps on that leg, then switch sides.

Training points (fixes common bugs)

When the front leg crosses aBulgarian split squat, make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart. If you're feeling very off-balance in your setup, you're probably putting your front foot directly in front of your back foot (essentially tightrope walking).

(Video) New Squatmax-MD Belt Squat - Everything You Need to Know

Keep your front foot flat on the ground when in the lunge position. One of the most common mistakes is lifting the ball off the forefoot. One of the reasons for this is often the second most common mistake I see in dumbbell RFE lunges...

Make sure you take a big enough step. I often see athletes who allow themselves very little distance from the bench. This results in an extremely tight lunge and can lead to a host of other problems (e.g. tiptoeing mentioned above).


The 12 Best Alternatives to Belt Squats (No Machine Required) | Horton's Bar (7)

Goblet Squats is a great tool for teaching back and front squats. Using the goblet squat to learn proper technique can help a beginner rely less on the belt squat machine if they are just using it with traditional squats due to lack of technique.

Necessary equipment

  • Kettlebell (You can also use a dumbbell)

step by step instructions

  • Grab a kettlebell and hold it at chest level, holding the bottom of the kettlebell with both hands*.
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, chest out, lats tight, eyes straight ahead.
  • Before squatting, inflate your abs and strengthen your core.
  • Start off by pushing your hips back.
  • Bend at the hips and knees, keep your chest up and knees out until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Now push your feet into the floor and come back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.

training points

*It is also acceptable to hold the kettlebell on either side of the handle (as shown in the image above).

As with any squat, this is the most important aspect.goblet squatit's about strengthening your core to protect your spine and maintain proper posture: chest out and lats tight.

sit on the wall

The 12 Best Alternatives to Belt Squats (No Machine Required) | Horton's Bar (8)

There's nothing easier than wall sitting, but if you've done it before, you know exactly how quickly wall sitting can set your legs on fire. Wall seats are great at the end of a practice session as a finalist or as part of a competition.

They're also a highly versatile alternative to belt squats because they don't require any equipment (outside of a wall) so you can do them anywhere, anytime.

Necessary equipment

  • A wall (anything big enough, flat enough, and strong enough to support it will also work)

step by step instructions

  • Find a good, stable wall that can safely support your body weight.
  • Lean with your back against the wall and keep your back straight against the wall.
  • Step out with your feet and plant them firmly on the floor, shoulder-width apart, a few feet from the wall (the exact distance depends on the length of your limbs).
  • Slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • The shin angle should now be vertical, with the knuckles just below the knees.
  • If you need to quickly back up to adjust the distance between your feet and the wall, do it now.
  • Once in a sitting position, hold that position for the specified time (or as long as possible).
  • When sitting, keep your hands away from your legs. They can be kept in front or placed on the sides.

training points

The biggest mistakes I see in athletessit against the wallThey all come from the settings. The thighs should be parallel to the floor, the ankles just below the knees.

Having your hips too high or your feet too far in front of your knees will take the stress off your quadriceps. Athletes naturally know this because these are two of the best ways to try and "cheat" when it comes to competition. (If you're not cheating, you're not trying, are you?)

turn the tire

The 12 Best Alternatives to Belt Squats (No Machine Required) | Horton's Bar (9)

(Video) Belt squat demonstrated (with discussion of an alternative)

Here's a belt squat alternative that's a little more original. The pull flip can be an amazing exercise (if you can do it safely) for building strength and power in your lower body. If you have a giant bow lying around, use it!

Necessary equipment

  • tires


  • Make sure you have enough clearance to turn the tire safely.
  • Start with the tire lying on its side on the ground.
  • Stand with your toes close to the hoop, feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower your hips and reach under the arch.
  • Once you get a good grip under the rim, flatten your back and strengthen your core.
  • Drive your feet across the floor and begin to aggressively lengthen your hips.
  • If the hoop is heavy, you can slide a knee under the hoop to improve leverage once the hoop is high enough.
  • When the hoop is above your waist, rotate your hands to start pushing the hoop.
  • Firmly push the hoop forward and straighten it with your arms and legs.
  • The tire should land on its side. Repeat for the indicated distance or reps.

training points

The biggest key totire jumpsit's maybe finding the right tire.

Every school I worked at had big tires used to turn the tires. However, the size and weight of these tires were drastically different. They range from hoops that were barely heavy enough to use, to hoops that took two and sometimes even three football players to spin.

As with the deadlift and power clean, it's extremely important to drop your hips, use your legs, and keep your back straight. Once fatigue sets in, I often see athletes transition to using their back more than their legs. When the shape reaches that point, it's time to stop flipping the hoop.

Impulso do Drifter

The 12 Best Alternatives to Belt Squats (No Machine Required) | Horton's Bar (10)

Prowler pushes are another ready-to-use lower-body bodybuilder that can add some variety to your workout. They can also develop more strength than is generally given to them without straining the spine.

professional advice: Use a lighter weight and faster pace to incorporate a conditioning component, or go slow and heavy to really emphasize strength.

Necessary equipment

  • marauder sleigh
  • fenders or iron plates
  • At least 20 meters of lawn
  • Appropriate footwear. Shoes with good grip or studs (if grass is available) are ideal.

step by step instructions

  • Place your Prowler in an area where you can push it at least 20 meters without hitting anything.
  • Load the Prowler with weight.
  • Get behind the prowler and assume the high grip position.
  • Bend your hips, bend your knees and straighten your arms.
  • Drive your legs and push the sled forward.

training points

ANDImpulso do Drifterit is a full body movement. Keep your core tight, a good neutral spine, and keep your arms straight (arms can bend when focusing on heavier loads).

Focus on the strong knee drive and foot drive to keep the predator moving. Your body angle will be very similar to how you start a sprint. Therefore, the lower body action should be very similar to running.

final thoughts

The belt squat is a great game-changing exercise for lifters who can't do a traditional squat. However, not many of us have access to a belted squat machine. And if you've only been doing belt squats for a while, it can add some variety to your workout.

after saying thatIf you're doing belt squats for a back problem, be sure to discuss any new exercises with your doctor or fitness coach.

If you look at the exercise list above, hopefully at least one of these alternative belt squat exercises can serve as a replacement for the belt squat in your strength training program.

(Video) Belt Squat March for Strongman


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