Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Hip Belt Squat Routine - John McCallum

Originally Published in This Issue (April 1970)

I worked out a good routine for the hip belt squat a few years ago. Everyone that tried it got terrific results. I told my friend Ollie all about it and said that I was going to write it up for Strength & Health

"It's got to be tested first," he told me.

"What do you mean, tested?" I said. "It's been used dozens of times. Everyone raves about it." 

"Not good enough," he said. "It's not scientific. Do you have accurate records? Do you have names and dates? Do you have poundage lifted? Do you have before and after measurements?"

I started to speak but he cut me off.

"Do you, in short," he said, "have documented proof?" 

"No," I admitted, "I don't. Do I need it?" 

"Absolutely," he said. It's the scientific approach." 

"What are you babbling about?" I said. "You don't know any more about science than I do." 

"I know this much," he said. "You've gotta try the program on an average lifter, and keep a record of what happens." 

"You really think so," I asked him.

"It's only fair to your readers," he said. "Assuming, that is, that you have any." 

There's a kid at the gym named Henry Masters. He's been training here about a year and a half and he hasn't gained an ounce. The heaviest thing about him is his hair. The reason he doesn't gain is because he doesn't do enough work to keep a bumblebee warm. His idea of a tough workout is to sit by the window and read the muscle magazines and give the peace sign to people walking by outside. I called him into the office one day.

"Henry, old chap," I said. "I am about to do a very nice thing for you." I held up my hand. "Don't," I said. "Don't thank me. The expression of gratitude in your eyes is reward enough." 

He gave me a cold look.

"Sit down," I said.

He sat down.

"Henry, my boy," I said to him, "you're a very fortunate fellow. You have before you a golden opportunity to be of immeasurable service to your fellow creatures. An opportunity, incidentally, that befalls very few people."

"No way, man," he said.

"What do you mean, no way?" I snarled. "You don't even know what I'm talking about yet."

He sank deeper into the chair and crossed his feet on the desk. "Like I ain't exactly consumed with a burning curiosity, either," he said.

I stared at him. "Henry, do you mean to tell me you're not even curious about how you can help your fellow man?"

"I know what it'll be," he said. "You want a guinea pig for some goofy experiment."

"How'd you know that?" I said. "I mean, what makes you think so?"

"Like I ain't as stupid as I look," he said.

"I'm delighted to hear that," I told him. "However, as a matter of fact, I do require your services for a little test that will greatly benefit mankind."

He started to get up. "Like farewell," he said.

"Hole it," I said. "Hold it. This'll be to your advantage."

He stopped.

"You've got everything to win," I said. "You'll gain at least twenty pounds of good looking muscle for starters. I guarantee it."

He didn't look too interested.

"To say nothing of the publicity," I added.

He peered at me. "Publicity?"

"Right," I said. "Nationwide publicity, and all the fame and fortune that goes with it."


"Certainly," I said. "Your name will be a household word. You could even end up with a T.V. offer. You never know."

"What would I have to do?" he asked.

"Not much," I said. "Just work hard on a hip belt squat routine that I'll give you, and let me record your progress."

"Okay," he said. "It's a deal. I'll start today."

I cleared my throat. "Actually," I said, "there's one other thing. You've got to go down to the Fire Department and bum a belt off them."

"Bum a belt?" he said. "What for? There's two of them out in the gym."

"I know," I said. "But it's gotta be a complete test with homemade equipment. It's for all the guys who train at home."

"I can't mooch a belt," he said. "I'd feel like an idiot."

"Don't be silly," I said. "Firemen are kindly, public spirited citizens who are always fixing toys and stuff. They'll be delighted to help you."

He looked a little more reassured.

"Also," I said, "you'll need two pieces of half-inch nylon rope about three feet long."

"What for?" he asked.

"I'll show you later," I said. "And by the way, can you tie a clove hitch and a reef knot?"

He shook his head.

"Okay," I said. "Get a damn fireman to show you. It's all part of the deal."

Henry came in the next workout day with two pieces of rope and a fireman's service belt. He threw them on the desk. "Bright ideas you get," he said.

"Did they give you the belt for nothing?" I asked him.

"Yeah," he said. "I asked a fireman and he gave it to me."

"Good," I said. "And did you ask him to tie a clove hitch and a reef knot?"

He glared at me. "Yeah," he said. "I asked him."

"Perfect," I said. "What did he say?"

"He said would I like my shoes tied," Henry snarled, "and did I have a note from my mother."

We took Hendry's goodfella measurements. He weighed 153. His chest was 41 inches, thighs 20.5, and arms 14.25. "Man," I said, "you ain't exactly Mr. America material."

I gave him a heavier routine than anything he'd done before. It was:

1) Prone hyperextension: 3 x 12 reps
2) Breathing squat: 1 x 20
3) Light pullover: 1 x 20
4) Hip belt squat: 4 x 15
5) Donkey calf raise: 4 x 20
6) Incline dumbbell press: 4 x 12
7) Behind neck chin: 4 x 15
8) Stiff-legged deadlift: 2 x 15
9) Concentration curl: 3 x 10
10) Triceps extension: 3 x 10.

I told him he'd have to work hard. "You gotta go to the limit on every exercise except the pullovers," I said.

He looked the routine over. "Man," he said. "That's like too much."

"Not really," I told him. "You're gonna look good in a little while, and don't forget the publicity."

"Yeah," he whispered. "The publicity. I always wanted to be famous."

"Okay," I said. "Give it all you got." 

Henry started with 60 pounds in the hip belt squat. It was all he could handle. He used 165 in the regular squat, 180 in the deadlift and a pair of 50s in the incline press. His strength came up rapidly, and he added 5 or 10 pounds to the hip belt every workout. He ate three big meals a day, three snacks, took all the supplements, and washed the whole thing down with four quarts per day of the Get Big Drink. At the end of the first month he'd gained 14 pounds. He was using 145 on the hip belt, 205 in the regular squat, 220 in the deadlift, and pushing a pair of 65s in the incline press.

I kept after him to work harder and harder. "Man," he said. "I'm gonna be like wiped out."

"No way," I said. "You're gonna be famous."

He slipped another five on the bar. "Yeah," he murmured. "Too much."

Henry stayed on the routine for two full months, and then we measured him up again. He'd gained 26 pounds, which made him 179. His chest had grown to 44.25 inches, his thighs to 23, and his arms to an even 16. His hip belt squats were up to 195, the regular squats to 240 x 20, the deadlifts to 255, and he was using a pair of 75s in the incline press.

"Man," he said. "I'm like tremendous."

"Yeah," I said. "You did pretty good."

"And now for the publicity," he chortled. "I'll get some pictures taken, eh?"

"Great," I said. "I'll get my camera."

"What about studio pictures?" he asked.

"Not necessary," I said. "I'm an expert photographer."

I dug around in the desk and found by old baby brownie. "Okay," I said. "I'll get this off to the Ed Sullivan show right away."

"Hey," he yelled. "You didn't even use a flash bulb."

"That's okay," I said. "Subdued lighting is all the rage these days."

"What the hell," he said. "Nobody'll be interested in that."

"Henry, my boy," I said. "I'm interested. And if nobody else wants it I'll keep it as my most treasured possession."


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