A heavy loaded barbell on your back is far from ideal. Instead of placing a barbell on your shoulders, attach weights to a belt around your waist.
If you’re looking to gain strength and size, large, compound movements work best. Squats are a fantastic exercise for gaining strength, mass, and even increasing your vertical leap. As great as they are, squats do have some negative aspects. Some people, especially taller lifters with long legs, are just not built to squat for huge numbers. Also, a heavy loaded barbell on your back is uncomfortable to say the least and causes a lot of compression on the spine. Furthermore, performing intense squats on your own is not easy and potentially dangerous. Thankfully, there is an elegant solution to this problem. Instead of placing a barbell on your shoulders, attach weights to a belt around your waist.
HIP BELT SQUATS
Squatting with a hip belt will take the pain away from traditional squatting and is a more natural movement. Hip belt squatting is definitely not revolutionary but it does fly under the radar. Big, strong lifters have been utilizing them for years, although you may have never seen them performed in a gym. Barbell or dumbbell squats place stress all over the body, making it difficult to really isolate and push the quadriceps to their limit. Hip belt squats, on the other hand, focus the entire weight on the legs. Your lower back won’t fatigue before your quads, making them a great movement for bodybuilders concerned about quad size. Attach the hip belt and weight and stand on a couple of elevated platforms (a couple of weight plates work) so you can squat to a low depth.
OTHER HIP BELT EXERCISES
Sometimes called the upper-body squat because of their ability to hit the entire torso, dips will build a massively strong chest, boulder-sized shoulders, and horseshoe-shaped triceps. To perform a dip that primarily targets the chest, position yourself on the dip bars, concave your chest and put your chin down. Lean forward and flare your elbows out as you lower yourself. Stop a few inches short of the top of the movement and don’t lockout, keeping your chest muscles tensed. To perform a dip that primarily targets the triceps, remain more upright, don’t flare the elbows, and focus on the top of movement, contracting the triceps hard. Once you can perform a few sets of ten or more reps, grab your hip belt and start to slowly add resistance.
You’ve performed your hip belt squats and weighted dips. You just need to add in an exercise for your back and bicep muscles. Simply add some pull-ups to the mix and you have a quick, effective, total body workout. If you can’t perform a pull-up, start out by standing on a chair and perform the negative portion of the movement. Work up to a few sets of 10 and alternate your grip between palms toward you and palms away. Throw a towel on the bar if you’d like to improve your grip. When you’re ready, grab your hip belt and start to add weight.
Attach your hip belt and perform a few sets of calf raises to complete your workout. You can also perform one legged calf raises on a raised platform or even a step in your stairwell. Though the dips and pull-ups will have worked your arms sufficiently, throw in some dumbbell curls and tricep extensions if you desire extra arm work.