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The belt squat machine is a great tool to have in your arsenal. It provides an easy way to add volume on squats without putting extra stress on your back and other supporting muscles.
Rather than the load being placed on your spine while doing a back squat using a barbell, the belt squat allows the load to be placed on the hips. In addition to relieving stress on the back associated with the barbell back squat, it also provides traction to the spine while allowing you to add substantial volume to your legs. One of the unique things about the belt squat is that it also has many other uses as well.
It is great for calf raises, especially for those lacking space, such as a home gym. There are also endless variations of rows and shrugs that can be performed, including deadlifts.
Without question, the belt squat machine is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you could build.
Note: Be sure to refer back to these images when making cuts.
The first step is to cut out the crossmembers with a bandsaw or some other metal-cutting tool, such as a handsaw. Wood is cheap if you mess up but, these Rogue Crossmembers are not.
Make sure you measure twice and make cuts in the right order, or your holes won’t line up. Refer to the cut sheet above.
Once these steps have been completed, the most difficult work is behind us. It is important to drill the holes straight and keep everything as square as possible. If you’re off by a little, it should be okay, but the more straight the holes, the better off you'll be.
There are several places that corners can be cut to save some money.
The biggest one is the extension kit for the uprights. If you don’t care about it being adjustable, there is no reason that you couldn’t make them out of 4x4s. Giving up adjustability would save you from having to buy the extension kit and J-cups. That’s a savings of over $245.
If you or someone you know can weld, this could be made for close to half the price. Using crossmembers and uprights from other companies also offers potential cost savings.
Finally, the uprights don’t really need bearings. It would be pretty simple and cheap to design another way for it to pivot, but this was the easiest option.
First of all, this unit will not be identical to mine as I tried to simplify some steps and improve upon others.
I countersunk all lags and screws and filled all screw, lag, and pocket holes with wood filler. I then sanded the entire thing and painted it. This is a worthwhile step if you want it to look clean and professional. I also rabbited the 4x4s on the outside of my base and cut my plywood to sit inside the rabbited boards. This makes it look cleaner and hides all the plywood edges. I did not include this step because not everyone has these tools and it likely decreases the strength of the platform.
Other things you can do is add 3x3 plastic end caps to make it look finished. Also take 3 in1 oil, sandpaper, and then steel wool to your iron pipe before painting, otherwise, the rust will bleed through your paint. For those interested, I used parakeet green paint from Valspar which matched my green Rogue RML-490C exactly.
I also used a Kreg Jig for my pocket hole joints, and, if you are a DIYer, it will come in handy over and over again.
I am quite certain someone can come up with a better idea for the stoppers. If you do, please let us know in the comments.
Finally, I have squatted up to 500 pounds on this unit so far. After the 500-pound squat, I decided to add some L brackets from Lowes where the base meets and goes up. Obviously, 4x4 construction is not as strong as steel. If you want to go another step in strengthening the unit, I have an idea. Add eye bolts to the base and outside bearings, and tension them with wire rope. This would pretty much guarantee that your belt squat will handle anything you throw at it.
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