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After using the Rhino for sometime, we believe nearly every garage gym could benefit from one. It's that versatile.
The Rogue Rhino Belt Squat showed up at my gym's doorstep about 6 weeks after I hit the order button on Rogue's website. Due to the Rogue Rhino being made to order, it takes a bit longer than most of their other equipment, although I could see that changing in the future as it increases in popularity.
The Rogue Rhino showed up on a long pallet, mostly in separate boxes. I spoke with a representative after receiving the Rhino to ask some further spec questions and was told that they have since created a separate box that has padding and spots for all the various parts of the machine. This said, after inspecting all of the various parts of the machine upon unboxing, I didn't notice any damage from shipping.
Although unboxing a bunch of different boxes was tedious, I'm glad everything was protected and came out unscathed. Due to the amount of equipment we receive for review, the quality of packaging we see runs the gamut, so we're always happy when things show up without any hiccups.
In the same way unboxing took a bit, assembly took even longer. As we'll discuss in further depth in the review portion, the Rhino Belt Squat is engineered incredibly well. However, due to everything fitting just perfectly and the entire unit being bolted together, section off an hour or more of your time to putting the unit together. Thankfully, I have a large audiobook library that I'm constantly trying to tackle that I put on in the background.
One reason the Rhino took some time to assemble is that I don't have a power tool that allows me to tighten 1" bolts. Thankfully, Rogue provides two, 1" branded wrenches (that are definitely going to be displayed on the wall,) however, they are timely to use.
However, all of that time and energy is worth it when you can take a step back and see this beautiful machine ready to make you a bigger and better performing version of your current self.
I declare 2018 as the year of the belt squat.
More belt squats have been released within the past year and more talk about them, in general, has happened than at any time in the history of strength training. It reminds me of when Sorinex came out with the Center Mass Bell and Rogue with the Thompson Fatbells. Everyone talked about them, compared them, and wanted them.
Thankfully, all of this talk and competition forces companies to go all in on producing their best possible machines at the most affordable prices.
If you wanted a belt squat five years ago, you had a couple options and most of them were average at best.
Here are your options as of this writing (and I'm likely missing quite a few):
That's a ton of options for a large and pricey niche piece of equipment. Although others will try to take credit, the reason for this is largely due to you, the garage gym owner.
With all of these options cropping up, it was only a matter of time before Rogue Fitness stepped up to the plate to release a version quite different from all of the others.
There are three type of belt squats that have come to market. Leverage, like the Wenning Belt Squat, an option I'm going to refer to as true-weight, like the SquatMax MD, and cable-based, which is the category the Rogue Rhino Belt Squat falls in.
Each of these types of belt squats has its advantages and disadvantages. Rather than talking too much on the other categories (we'll do that in the future) I'll speak specifically to cable-based systems like the Rogue Rhino Belt Squat.
Cable-based systems require the most amount of parts and engineering to do properly. Sure, leverage style belt squats need to have the proper geometry and length of the arms, but with more parts come more potential problems, and it can't be denied that cable-based systems require the most amount of parts.
Here's the biggest positive for cable-based belt squats: they are far and away the most versatile style of belt squat. The main reason for this is due to the travel that cables allow compared to fixed arms that leverage systems have or loading pins that true-weight systems have. This versatility allows the Rogue Rhino Belt Squat to not be used for the singular purpose of squatting with weight around your hips.
The Rogue Rhino can be used for marching, jumping, rowing, curling, extending, and much more. This isn't to say that other machines can't be used for this purpose, but it's quite obvious that cable-based belt squats have the most variety available.
Want to increase the variety available for a machine with an already insane amount of movement choices? Allow it to be dropped into a rack. One of the most underrated aspects of the Rogue Rhino Belt Squat that we see people overlook is the potential options available with a rack attached cable-based belt squat. We picked up the Stand-Alone version of the Rhino, but only because we're waiting for the new Rogue Monster Series line to drop.
I don't want to go down too much of a rabbit-trail with this point, but imagine being able to hook up to the Rhino's cable system to a rack attached lat pulldown or functional trainer? It's possible and it's coming.
Enough about the various types of belt squats, though, let's discuss the build quality of the Rhino.
The Rogue Rhino Belt Squat is built using the Rogue Monster Line components. The frame of the machine is built out of 3x3, 11-gauge steel with black zinc 1" bolts (they look mean, too.) 3x3, 11-gauge steel has pretty much become the standard for most racks being made these days, and as such, most accessories that attach to racks use the same tubing.
The Stand-Alone version features the same angled feet used on the Rogue Monster Collegiate Half Racks which allow increased stability for the unit. All along the feet and every piece of tubing are holes that allow for attachments. I'm not sure what attachments you'd want to go along the feet (band pegs, maybe), but you have the option should you need.
The Stand-Alone version also features uprights that accessories like Spotter Arms or J-Cups could be attached to for using barbells while the belt is attached. Unfortunately, the uprights are too short to attach j-cups to so they can be used for barbell squats while using the belt. Due to how long most spotter arms are, they aren't that effective for most people on movements like rack pulls that have been popularized on the Westside Athletic Training Platform (although the Rogue Monster Spotter Arms may work okay.) That said, it is possible to stack mats on the machine to increase your height and therefore decrease the lowest height of the spotter arms for greater depth on rack pulls/deadlifts.
The floor of the Rogue Rhino is made of a thick piece of powder-coated diamond-tread plate. The texture of the diamond plate along with the roughness of the powder-coat allow for sure footing, although, if you prefer, it would be easy to cut out a piece of stall mat to go over the diamond plate. In the middle of the floor is a cut out for the cable to pass through, which is then flown through three pulley's to where it's attached to the weight trolley. The cutout features rollers on the sides and back of the cutout to prevent the cable from rubbing against bare metal and getting frayed. This also allows the cable to be used for things like seated rows at the edge of the platform (one of my favorite variations I've used the belt squat for.)
The murdered out look of the Rogue Rhino is cool and allows the machine to scream, "I'M MADE BY ROGUE," however, I foresee the powder coated platform chipping quite a bit over time. Stainless would have been more practical, even if it took away from the look of the machine. Small detail, however.
In order to use the machine, the user attaches the belt, steps on the platform and pulls the second set of uprights using the Lever Arm Handles the remove the Rhino Horn (J-Cup) away from the weight trolley. It's extremely easy to use and thanks to a pair of rubber stoppers, there is no metal on metal contact.
The Lever Arm Handles work extremely well for this purpose, although I wonder why the handles use Rogue's rough powder-coat instead of the glossy that's featured on the rest of the machine. I would assume for grip purposes, but they do stand out a bit in person.
The Rhino Horn J-Cup is a cool idea that is essentially a mini sandwich j-cup. It would actually be quite cute if that were possible for something made in one color, black, and used for this purpose. Forget it, I'm going with it; it's cute. The Rhino Horn attaches to the two uprights that are used for freeing the weight trolley.
The weight trolley has a cool laser-cut Rogue logo on both sides and uses rollers to allow the trolley to move smoothly up the 3x6" trolley tower. It's a unique design that works extremely well. I was actually quite surprised how smooth it moves and it should prove to be pretty durable.
The Trolley Tower also features band pegs welded to the bottom for attaching bads to the trolley. They work as well as one would hope.
One feature of the Rhino that I hope Rogue extends to other equipment, like their specialty bars, is the stainless steel weight posts. They're long enough to handle any weight you'd ever want to use, and they don't scar and chip like powder-coat.
To answer the question we've been receiving quite a bit, the Rogue Rhino can be used without being bolted to the floor. I know they tell you in bold on their website, "it must be bolted to the floor before use" however, I would assume that's for legal reasons more than anything else. I maxed out on the Rhino (I have a 210 KG back squat for reference) and felt zero instability. The only time I noticed the unit rock was when I was off the platform and testing it for jumping, and even then, it didn't move much. So, following that "requirement" from Rogue is up to you.
Another question you may be wondering is, what's the felt load? I asked this question to a Rogue Rep as it's not on their site (which seems like an incredibly important spec for something of this nature) and I was informed, "The weight ratio on the Rhino is 1:1. The weight of the unloaded trolley is 27lbs." In use, it definitely feels 1:1 and warming up with just the belt on feels similar to an empty bar.
An essential piece of equipment that's included with the Rhino is an exclusive Spud Inc Squat Belt that features three D-rings on each end to accommodate a variety of waist sizes and heights. It's by far the best belt squat belt we've used and they've included a black Omega carabiner that is just as nice as the rest of machine.
Without a doubt, this is one of the best-made pieces of equipment Rogue has come out with. Although there are a couple minor things we'd like to see improved, overall, it's pretty incredible, especially for the price. Yeah, it's expensive for a lot of home gym owners, but compare it to the other options and you'll see what a bargain it is.
How does it compare to the competition? Well, we've yet to use some of the newer, more popular options like the Sorinex J*Squat, Wenning Belt Squat, and SquatMax MD, however, we are working to review all of them in comparison. This said, the Rogue Rhino absolutely blows the Titan Belt Squat out of the water. It's at least 3x more in price, but there's a vastly larger difference between the two in quality, versatility, and performance.
Although we're excited to review and compare the other models, their qualities won't detract from the fact that the Rogue Rhino is one mean machine. Props to the engineers behind the project, I'm sure it was on the drawing board for some time.
Although the Rogue Rhino Belt Squat is one of the best belt squats on the market, there are some minor things we'd like to see that we believe would improve the machine.
Speaking specifically to the Stand-Alone Version, I would like to see a couple of options. One, for the platform to be larger, making it more similar to the ATP. I don't think it's needed for most people or uses, but it would be cool to have the option. Although, Westside Barbell may not allow it.
Next, are two things we mentioned earlier in the review. The powder-coated platform looks nice and feels good, but I just foresee it getting chipped and scarred easily. Also, the rough powder coated handles on the machine don't match the look of the rest of the machine. These are both minor, but worth summarizing here.
The biggest complaint, and again, this is trivial, but the Rhino sticker on the top of the tower trolley is the equivalent of Maserati throwing a crown sticker on their Alfieri. It makes no sense and looks silly. Laser-cut a Rhino or something. Make that as unique as the rest of the device.
Finally, and I'm sure this is already in the works, but I'd like to see attachments for the unit. Things like lat pulldowns and functional trainer options would make an already impressively versatile machine even more so.
All in all, as you can see, there's not much we see for improvement.
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