Monday, October 15, 2018

Hip Belt Squats - John McCallum


Originally Published in This Issue (March, 1970) 


On May 11th, in the year of our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Thirty-Eight, Vancouver, British Columbia, was a lean and hungry city. Actually this wasn't too unusual, for in the closing years of the great depression and just before the economic stimulus of the great slaughter, most of the world was pretty lean and hungry. Some areas, however, were harder hit than others.

British Columbia is Canada's most westerly province, and Vancouver is the biggest city in it. It is a highly urban, congested seaport, and for the people of Vancouver the depression was no abstract concept of economics. It was real and it was earnest. Business and industry lay idle. Mothers fed watery oatmeal to children who cried for milk. Block long lines of ragged, listless, hollow cheeked men stood before empty soup kitchens and hunger walked the streets of the city. 

Early in the spring, 2,000 men were cut off the relief rolls - the bare, subsistence dole that kept enough food in the belly to support a measure of life. For a month these men pan-handled around the city - "tin canning," then called it - until a further ban made begging illegal. The men went hungry for a few days longer and then, on May 11th, 1,600 of them under the leadership of a man named Steve Brodie jammed into the Government Post Office in a desperate attempt to bring attention to their plight.


Letter to Today's Unemployed, written by Brodie in 1996: 
The men stayed in the Post Office for forty days, existing on what little food was passed through the windows by sympathizers. They resisted all attempts to dislodge them, including the reading of the riot act by the mayor. 

Then, at 5:00 A.M., on June 20th, a battalion of mounted police stationed themselves a block away from the Post Office. Other police lined up in front of the Post Office and fired tear gas grenades through the windows. The blinded men poured out and the mounted police swept down Hastings Street. The men stumbled into the middle of the street and the horsemen, swinging long hardwood clubs, hit them and went through them and over them like a giant lawn mower. 


Not all of the men came out meekly.


One of them - a big, dark haired man - came bounding out the door and into the middle of the action. He scooped a policemen off his horse, dropped him, and reached for another. 

The man's name was Harvey Farrell, and he spent most of his life fighting for what he believed in. He was doing that at Dieppe when a German machine gunner stitched him up the middle.

Harvey Farrell used to lift weights with my Uncle Harry. He had an enormous chest, incredibly thick shoulders, and as good a set of legs as I've ever seen. His thighs went around 28" and were about as strong, shapely, and defined as legs can get without being paired up with a needle-riddled butt. I used to watch him training when I was a kid and I can still see his legs. 

Harvey Farrell's favorite exercise was the hip belt squat. 

He gave it full credit for his strength and development. He had a special bar for his hip belt squats. He kept it loaded and ready and it was never used for any other exercise. He had a hip belt that he'd made himself out of old harness leather. It was thick and crude and heavily padded, but it did the job and Hercules couldn't have broken it.

Harvey considered the hip belt squat to be in a class by itself when it cam to development potential. He never left it out of his workouts and sometimes it was the only exercise he did. He'd built up his power enormously over the years. He could handle more weight in the hip belt squat than most men could in the dead lift.

Harvey Farrell's teachings weren't wasted. My Uncle Harry still works hard on hip belt squats, and if any man ever stood as a finer example of sensible weight training, I've yet to see him.

Hip belt squats are pure leg work. They've got a lot of advantages you won't find in any other exercise. There's none of the lower back strain or the breathing restrictions associated with regular squats. You can focus 100% concentration on your thighs and forget about everything else. There's no danger if you can't complete a rep. If you can't make it up, then just settle all the way down, let the bar rest on the floor, undo the belt, and crawl away. You can work to your absolute limit, and if you do, you may rest assured you'll benefit accordingly.

Hip belt squats might be the answer to your gaining problems. If you're not gaining as well as you think you should, give them a try and see what they can do for you.  

Figure on working them hard for a couple of months. You may even want to try a little specialization. Just remember that any effort you put into them will be repaid many, many times over. 

Let's take a closer and more detailed look at the whole process. A lot of trainees confuse hip belt squats with hip lifts. The two are not the same thing. Other than the fact that both involve a belt of some sort they have practically no similarity at all.

Scott Schmidt, Hip Lift


Hip lifts are more of a feat of strength than an exercise. The weight is lifted only a few inches and the reps are usually kept low. It has some value as a power builder and can be used to strengthen ligaments and tendons. As a muscle builder, however, it leaves a lot to be desired.  


Schpeakin' of Elvis, last night I watched the Eugene Jarecki ("Why We Fight") documentary on, sort of on, Elvis. Very disappointing ramble without much of a goal in mind. Well, other than the usual blather about the death of the American Dream, yawn, and all that crap. This stuff really gets loved on by critics. YAWN. 






HIP BELT SQUATS are a different animal entirely. They're intended to be an exercise, not a lift. They're done in relatively high reps over a full range of movement, and they're practically unequaled as a muscle builder.

Hip belt squats feel a bit awkward at first. It usually takes a week or two of training before they get really comfortable (comfortable enough to be painful?). After that, though, gains come rapidly.

You can work out your hip belt squatting procedure any way you want. The method I use and recommend is as follows:

Place a bar on a bench. The middle of the bar should be resting on the bench and the bar should be at right angles to the bench. In other words, if the bench is running north and south, then the bar should be running east and west.

Next, load up the bar and put on collars. You should use small plates. Large plates will prove unsuccessful because they'll hit the floor before you've squatted low enough. When the bar is loaded, put on the collars and cinch them up good and tight.

Now you can strap on your belt. The hip belt is an important piece of equipment. It doesn't have to look good, but it has to be strong and it has to fit. An ordinary belt like you hold your pants up with won't do. The belt has to be at least three inches wide and a quarter inch thick with as sturdy a buckle as you can find. The belt should preferably have been safe-tested so you know it'll stand the strain.

The IronMind Hip Belt. 
No problems ever with one of these, and 
it's good to go on arrival. 

You need a lot of padding under the belt. Use padding at least an inch wider than the belt. Almost anything will do - foam rubber, heavy towels, an old blanket, anything that'll stop the belt from cutting into you. Don't chintz on the padding. The exercise is tough enough without making it painful.
 
Now, straddle the bar and sit down on the bench. You should be facing along the same line as the bar. If the bar is running east and west, you'll be facing either east or west and sitting astride the bar as though it was a horse.
 
The next thing you'll need is something to fasten the bar to the belt. I suggest you get two pieces of nylon rope a half inch in diameter and about three feet long. Nylon rope is a lot stronger than the hemp variety. It'll stretch a bit at first, but after that it'll be fine. 
 
Now, tie the middle of one piece of rope to an onion and swing it vigorously overhead. Now, tie the middle of one piece of rope to the bar immediately behind you. The only type of knot that will hold without sliding on the bar is a clove hitch. The clove hitch and nothing else. No onion! If you don't know how to tie a clove hitch, ask an onion or an olive, call any vegetable, Friendo. 
 
Tie the other piece of rope with a clove hitch to the bar immediately in front of you. Once you become accustomed to where the ropes tie on the bar you can tie them on before you sit down.
 
Next, take the rope that's tied to the bar behind you. Tuck the ends up between you and the belt and pull them down on the outside of the belt. Lean back slightly and cinch the rope up as tight as you can get it. Now wrap the ends around the belt and tie them in a reef knot. If you can't tie a reef knot, see vegetables above when they're not too busy.
 
Now tie the rope in front of you the same way. Get it as tight as you can. The bar should be pulled up to your crotch till it almost hurts. You need it that tight because it'll sag down a couple of inches when you stand up.
 
When you've got the bar cinched up as tight as you can, get up with it and walk to where you're going to do the squats. Don't go any farther than you have to, just get away from the bitch, er, bench. 
 
You'll need a 2 x 4 under your heels to maintain your balance during the squats. You may even need something thicker. Whatever you use, put it in place before you tie yourself to the bar.
 
It's essential that you get a full range of motion out of the hip belt squats.    

If you have small enough plates on the bar you'll be able to get right down. If you haven't got enough small plates you'll have to build a little platform to stand on while you're squatting.

It's important that you get into a DEEP squat position.   
 
We're out of space . . . and I blame the add-ons for that. Practice the hip belt squats with fairly light weights for this month. Progress gradually and try to get the hang of it. We'll lay on a heavy program next month and you'll want to be ready for it. 
  

 



 











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