Belt Squat Alternatives: 9 Effective Substitutes For Legs

Getting a lower body workout can feel amazing, especially when toning your glutes and leg muscles by performing squats. Of course, the squat, like many other workouts, has several alternatives that you can use to work different muscles.

Many of the best known squat alternatives use a belt, which is a device that allows the individual performing the workout to squat safely with the weights anchored to their hips.

Since the weight is anchored around the waist, many gym enthusiasts consider the belt squat a safer alternative to the barbell squat. So, if you are looking to mix up your squat game and give those glutes and legs the toning they need, you can read on and learn about the best belt squat alternatives and how to perform them carefully.

Now that we have covered what the belt squat is and how it can be a beneficial workout to your routine, it's time to dive into the fun part: belt squat alternatives. Some of the best squat alternatives that you can use include:

1. Banded Belt Squats 

A banded belt squat is a good alternative if you do not have a lot of equipment available to perform a proper belt squat. Instead of using plates or dumbbells, all you need is a couple of resistance bands that you can attach to the belt, which will help you work the leg muscles.

Required Equipment - 8 Best Resistance Bands

To perform this workout: 

  • Take a single band and have it on the floor right in front of you.  
  • Place the right foot inside the right side of the band, then do the same with the other side.  
  • While you are still standing on the band, pick it up in the middle and pull it to the waist. 
  • Attach the band to the weight belt. You can just close the loop on top of the band.  
  • Perform the squat as you usually would, lowering the hips to the floor.  
Banded Belt Squats

2. Front Squats 

The front squat is a barbell squat alternative that involves placing the weight load on the front of the shoulders rather than the back. Not a simple workout to perform, this workout is best suited for those who have had some experience with squatting in the past. This barbell squat alternative is great for targeting the quads and is usually performed with low repetitions. 

To perform this workout: 

  • Set the rack and barbell to shoulder level and put the barbell on the front of the shoulder.  
  • Place the hands shoulder-width and allow the barbell to rest on the first and second knuckles.  
  • Drive the elbows up so that the arm is parallel to the floor.  
  • Set the stance for the squat, and then crack the knees and hips to start the movement.  
  • Squat down deep while staying upright in the torso. Drive the feet through the floor and work on the quads to stand up.  
Front Squats

3. Goblet Squat 

Goblet squats are performed just like the front squats; only instead of using a barbell, you will use a single dumbbell or kettlebell to perform the workout. The workout is also much easier on the wrists than the front squat while still targeting the same muscles.

Read More - Kettlebells Vs Dumbbell - Which Is Better For Goblet Squats?

To perform this workout: 

  • Grab one dumbbell but put it in two hands with the handles vertical.  
  • Place the hands under the top of the dumbbell with the palms inward, keeping the dumbbell close to the body.  
  • Crack the hips and the knees at the same time and bring the hips down below parallel. Do not bounce or lose the tension.  
  • Push the floor away and go up as fast as you can to go back to standing.  
  • Repeat to get done 
Goblet Squat

4. Cable Hip Belt Squat 

Cable Hip Belt Squats are one of the most complicated belt squat alternatives to perform as they require a lot of balance. For this workout, you won't need a chain but instead will need a cable station and a belt that will allow you to blast your legs without putting pressure on your spine.

This one will require a cable crossover machine. These machines can be kind of pricey, but you can find a few budget cable crossover machines in our review guide.

To perform this workout: 

  • Move the cable machine to its lowest setting and place a dip belt on your waist.  
  • Add the carabiner from the cables to the rings in the belt.  
  • Walk back so that you are a minimum of 2 feet from the machine.  
  • Place the arms out in front to add some balance as you squat low to the floor.  
  • Ensure that you sit back on the heels to help you get the good squat.  
Cable Hip Belt Squat

5. Landmine Belt Squat 

The next belt squat alternative in our line-up is the landmine belt squat. This killer workout is a good one if you would like to get the belt heavily loaded and really put some pressure on the legs. You will need to find a landmine attachment to make this one work.

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To perform this workout: 

  • Put the chosen barbell inside the landmine that you choose.  
  • Load the other end with some plates. You should stick with the 10 to 25-pound plates because the 45 pound plates are too big for the squat.  
  • Attach a chain to the lifting belt and then wrap the other end under the barbell.  
  • Squat down to the floor and then return to standing. Repeat to finish the workout.  
Landmine Belt Squat

6. Hack Squat 

The hack squat is performed with a special piece of gym equipment called a hack squat kit that looks a lot like the standing leg press. This workout allows you to do a squat down to a 45-degree angle, which is great for engaging the quads.

Also See - Hack Squat Substitute Exercises

To perform this workout: 

  • Place the shoulders under the pads and grab the handles right outside your head. Make sure the legs are slightly outside shoulder-width.  
  • Squat down with a controlled tempo to make sure the heels are not going to lift up.  
  • Focus on pushing the knees forward to get more motion.  
  • When ready to drive up, make sure the shoulders go back into the pads and then push up.  
Hack Squat

7. Safety Bar Squats

Safety Bar squats are a great belt squat alternative that uses a specialty bar called a safety squat bar. This piece of equipment has built-in shoulder pads to protect your shoulders as well as rubber or padded handles. Like most squat alternatives, this workout targets the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. 

To perform this workout: 

  • Place the barbell on the back with a foam pad for protection.  
  • Grab the safety bar and drive the elbows up and forward.  
  • Keep the back and core engaged before you squat, and have the chest up.  
  • Bring the hips down below parallel before driving back to standing to finish up.  
Safety Squat

8. Leg Press 

The leg press is a good alternative to the belt squat because you will not place any load on the back, and it isolates most of the same muscles while letting you sit down. However, the angling can also make it more challenging to do than some of the others.

Further Reading - Leg Press Foot Placement Guide

To perform this workout: 

  • Lie down on the machine, making sure the feet are spaced about shoulder-width apart.  
  • Brace the core and get the glutes tightened to start this one.  
  • When ready, take the weight from the safeties and lower it to the chest. You want the thighs to be at or below parallel here.  
  • Bring the hips down below parallel before driving back to standing to finish up.  
Leg Press

9. Dumbbell Belt Squats 

The first belt squat alternative that you can try is the dumbbell belt squat which is the closest variation to the standard belt squat. This belt squat alternative will work essentially all of the same muscles, but the main difference is that this workout does not have any spinal compression since the load hangs from your waist and in between your feet. 

Read Also - How To Use A Dip Belt (For Squats)

To perform this workout: 

  • Attach a chain to the lifting belt.  
  • Allow the chain to hang between the feet. Add the dumbbells to the end of that side.  
  • Place the feet on some risers and then place the feet into a squat stance.  
  • Lower the hips down to the floor until the thighs are at or below parallel.  
  • Stand up quickly, making sure that you maintain your balance on the midfoot.  
dumbbell belt squat

Benefits Of The Belt Squat Exercise (Are They Worth It?)

You can get several benefits when you choose to use a belt squat as part of your workout routine. Some of these benefits are related to the actual ease of the workout, and others are regarding the health benefits.  

One of the primary benefits of belt squats is that you are able to load up your squat with weight to work the legs out while making sure this weight is not put on the spine. This makes it an excellent workout for anyone worried about their upper body or back but still wants the benefits of performing squats.  

Additionally, the belt squat also works the same muscles as the barbell squat while providing some additional benefits, including the following: 

  • Makes it easier to lift with a vertical spine 
  • Can reduce hip pain in experienced lifters 
  • Emphasizes hip extension 
  • Fires up the glutes 
  • Improves power position 
  • Reduction in elbow and wrist tension 

Like many of the best workouts, belt squats may seem a little awkward to perform at first, but once you have the proper form down, you’ll be glad you have this explosive squat alternative a try.


What Muscles Do Belt Squats & Substitute Exercises Work?

The belt squat is going to be a solid workout to help you work most of the muscles in your lower body. Some of the muscles that this workout will engage includes: 

Quadriceps 

The quadriceps are a big muscle group of the lower body. There are not a lot of lower body exercises that you can do without bringing in the quadriceps to help get the work done. Each time you bend down and then push up with the squat, the quadriceps will get to work, providing that extra power you need.  

Glutes 

All types of squats are going to be good for the glutes. When you are able to add some weight to the squats, especially when they are added to the waist rather than the back, you can really work out the muscles of the glutes to keep them toned and tightened.

Core 

It is possible to also work out the core muscles when you do a belt squat. Holding the correct form the whole time is good for the core. There is also a good amount of balance involved in maintaining the weights at the right level and doing the squat, which can call on some of those core muscles too.

Hamstrings 

The hamstring muscles are found at the back of the thigh. When you do workouts that target the hamstrings and the glutes, you will be able to tone and lift the butt, making it look better than ever before.


How To Make Your Own Homemade Belt Squat Equipment

A traditional belt squat machine can cost upwards of $3,000 to purchase, which can seem expensive when you are trying to build up your own home gym. However, it is possible to create your own belt squat for much less money, making it more affordable for any home gym.

One method has you use your lat tower and add a cable to it to help with the squats and keep the weight steady throughout it all. The cables can be useful for helping you to keep your balance each time you do a squat.  

You can also do one without a cable setup. To do this, you can get two box stands of equal height. You can make your own or find another option that will give you equal height on both sides. You can then stand on these with the belt squat around your waist, and begin the workout. Make them tall enough that the weight will not fall completely to the ground, but be ready to bring in the balance.


Belt Squat FAQs

Are belt squats bad for your back? 

A belt squat, when done properly, is not going to be bad on the back. This is because the belt is placed around the hips, so there is little to no stress on your lower back or spine. This makes them a safer option to use compared to barbell squats, that place a lot of pressure on the spine.

Can you build big legs with belt squats? 

Absolutely, belt squats are an explosive workout that will help you build stronger and more toned legs. This workout and its alternatives target many of the most important muscle groups in the legs like the quads, hamstrings, and calves while also helping strengthen the glutes and core.

How much weight should I use for a belt for squats? 

You should always be careful with the amount of weight you use for a belt squat. You need to listen to your own body and determine how much weight you feel comfortable lifting on the belt.

You want it to be heavy enough to help you fatigue the muscles but still be comfortable enough to lift and not cause harm to the body at all. Start with around 85% of your normal weight lifting ability and work up or down from there accordingly. 


Conclusion

We've seen that belt squats are an explosive workout with several great alternatives that each have their own form and fitness benefits. While working a lot of the same leg muscles, these alternatives are great for maintaining a healthy back and getting toned legs that you'll be proud of when you show up to the gym for leg day.

Now that you've learned how to perform these belt squat alternatives, it's time to hit the gym and see what you're made of.

Paul J