Archive for May, 2008

When I started CrossFit, I was a poor student and I lived in a house with a bunch of other people and my girlfriend (now my fiance). As me and my girlfriend shared one room, but rented two, I claimed the smaller room as my gym (it was either that or use it as a second wardrobe for her – needless to say I put my foot down on this one!).

I forked out for an Olympic barbell and a doorway chinning bar and that was all the equipment I bought to do CrossFit with for 3 years.

How did I survive without Med-balls, Kettlebells, Rowing Machines or Rings?

  1. I worked my ass off to find exercise substitutions
  2. I was happy as long as I preserved the “spirit” of the Rx’d workout
  3. I made what equipment I could or got ingenious

How The Martial Arts Belts Come Into all This…

I did Ju Jutsu at Uni and I made some good progress up the belt ranks.

This left me with some spare belts to play with and seeing as I had a lot of spare time on my hands and very little equipment…

…as they say – necessity is the mother of invention and I found 3 cool uses for my old belts.

Number 1 – The Weighted Belt

Weighted pullups are one of my favorite exercises, but I couldn’t afford a proper weight belt to hang plates from, so I used one of my old belts…

You simply thread the belt through the hole in the weight plate, pass the two ends round your back and tie at the front. Simple.

To date, this has held up to 60kg and has seemed pretty solid. Do be careful though…

Number 2 – Cheap Rings for Dips and Muscle Ups

Simply tie two belts into loops over your pull-up bar.

Alternatively you can tie a loop at the bottom of the belt to form your “ring” and then tie the belt around your pull-up bar to get the desired length/height.

Then hang from ’em and do your Muscle-ups or use them for dips.  They actually work really well and I used these for years before came about.

Number 3 – Assisted 1-Arm Pull-ups

Working up to a full 1-Arm Pull-up is a great goal, but the progression can be hard.  A great way to build up the strength in the pulling arm is hang your belt over the pull-up bar and to hold on to the belt with your other hand.  The arm you’re training pulls on the bar as usual and the other arm pulls on the belt.

The further down the belt you hold, the more stress is placed on the pulling arm.  If you’re doing 5 sets of three pulls on each arm, then simply mark the height of the grip that allows you to just complete your reps and the next time you train, hold a little further down.  If you keep this up, then soon enough the belt will provide very little assistance and you’ll practically be able to do the 1-Arm Pull-up without any assistance.


Fitness is not about what equipment you have, its about how much effort you put in.  No matter what the exercises, you can always find a good substitute and the above is an example of how even a simple belt can be used to increase your training options.

Try them out and let me know how you get on.