About thirty seconds into the the exercise I knew the next minute was going to be a very long one. At around forty seconds my legs began shaking. At sixty seconds I was contracting as hard as possible just to keep the chain taut. By seventy the chain was slack and it took everything I had just to stay up. I barely made eighty seconds before my legs failed I could no longer hold myself up. Afterwards, I could barely walk.
Compared to these even the SuperSlow bodyweight squats don’t seem quite so bad.
If you want to try these all you need is a good chin up/dip belt and an inexpensive and easy to construct platform. The platform took me less than fifteen minutes to build and I estimate the total materials cost at around $25. I already had the eye bolt, washers, nuts, and carabiner and spent around $15 on the rest. You could also build one with a hook bolt instead of an eye bolt which would make hooking and unhooking the belt strap or chain easier.
If you have a chin/dip belt with a chain I also suggest buying an extra carabiner so you can adjust the chain to the exact length required for your thighs to be close to parallel.
Cut the 2×12 into one 36″ and two 30″ pieces. Many stores will do this for you free of charge, saving you time and making the lumber easier to fit in your vehicle if you are driving a car.
Drill a 1/4″ hole in the center of the 36″ piece.
Line up the 30″ feet so they are centered and flush with the edges of the top piece as shown.
Drill six 1/8″ pilot holes for your screws; four approximately three inches in from the corners and two about eight inches from the ends on center. Fasten with wood screws.
Place a bolt and washer on the hook or eye bolt all the way at the top of the threads and insert through the center hole. Fasten on the other side with the second washer and bolt. The actual thickness of 2×12 lumber is only 1-1/2″ and the wood will compress slightly when the nuts are tightened so 2-1/4″ to 2-1/2″ is long enough.
Performing Timed Static Contraction Hip Belt Squats
Adjust the strap or chain on your belt so when you hook or clip it your thighs are near parallel when your feet are about shoulder width. Position your belt so it is just over your hips and not riding too high on your back.
Start your stopwatch or timer and place it in front of the platform where you can easily see it.
Stand on the platform with your feet approximately shoulder width and center them front-to-back. Squat down and hook or clip your belt.
Attempt to stand, contracting your hip and thigh muscles against the belt as follows:
1-30 seconds: moderate effort
31-60 seconds: almost as hard as you dare
61-90 seconds: as hard as you dare
When instructing subjects in timed static contraction we say “dare” instead of “can” because it although highly unlikely if performed properly it is possible for some subjects to contract hard enough to injure themselves and it’s best to err conservatively with this at first. Considering what we are finding about inroading during TSC with the RenEx iMachines I suspect if TSC hip belt squats are done correctly you will find it hard just to keep the chain taut during the last thirty seconds, so this may be irrelevant.
Update: I talked with Ken Hutchins about this yesterday and he suggested a higher position, around 30 to 40 degrees above parallel. Doing so will be less difficult initially but just as intense towards the end and allows for your hips to be tilted posteriorly or “tucked under” engaging your glutes and hamstrings more.
If your belt has a chain you might want to wrap a towel or other cushion around it where it contacts the thighs or it can dig in uncomfortably. Or click here for a chin up/dip belt with a strap
The platform can be used for several other TSC exercises in addition to hip belt squats with an extra length of chain and carabiner and the belt and various cable attachments including heel raises (chin/dip belt), arm curls (bar attachment), and lateral raises (split strap handle attachment or two individual handle attachments and extra chain).
Give it a try and share your experience in the comments.