Title:
Squat exercise apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A squat exercise apparatus (10) provides back support (12) for a user (20) leaning against a support surface (22) while performing a squat exercise. A frame (12) connected to the back support is rolled along the support surface by wheels (18) as the user lowers and raises his/her torso. An arm support (16) allows the user to grasp the apparatus and to comfortably rest his/her arms during the exercise. A portable heart monitor display (48) may be attached to the handle portion (26) of the arm support. Pivoting connections (42) allow upper and lower back support pads (38, 40) to be rotated to a comfortable position for a variety of users. A supplemental weight attachment (52) allows the user to increase the weight lifted during the exercise. A shoulder support (62) may be used to facilitate the lifting of the weight of the apparatus. A support base (58) may be used to provide a desired height to the apparatus when placed on a floor (60).



Inventors:
Mencis, Christopher J. (Longwood, FL, US)
Boivin, Hughes N. (Ponce Inlet, FL, US)
Application Number:
10/295699
Publication Date:
05/20/2004
Filing Date:
11/15/2002
Assignee:
MENCIS CHRISTOPHER J.
BOIVIN HUGHES N.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/93
International Classes:
A63B23/04; A63B21/055; A63B21/06; (IPC1-7): A63B1/00; A63B21/06
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20040254049Arm exercise device attached to dashboardDecember, 2004Martien
20080076650Hand/Arm fulcrum and exercise deviceMarch, 2008Lay
20080318734Special wrist snap developing and exercising device for softball pitchersDecember, 2008Parnell
20090017991Fitness equipment meter display storageJanuary, 2009Hung
20070021277Upper and lower body exerciserJanuary, 2007Kuo
20060073943Torso arch support for body board usersApril, 2006Perka
20080161171Maximum Resistive Full-Range Core Muscle Exercising DeviceJuly, 2008Wise
20050227823Stationary bikeOctober, 2005Liao
20050282686Static eliminator for a motorized treadmillDecember, 2005Lin
20060094572Control for hydraulic system for exercise equipmentMay, 2006Vanderploeg
20080234111Mid-deck hinged treadmill deckSeptember, 2008Packham



Primary Examiner:
BAKER, LORI LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Terry M. Sanks (Winter Park, FL, US)
Claims:

We claim as our invention:



1. A squat exercise apparatus comprising: a frame; a back support connected to the frame; and a rolling member connected to the frame and protruding beyond the frame to make rolling contact with a support surface when the apparatus is urged against the support surface by a user's back being leaned against the back support.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the rolling member further comprises a plurality of wheels rotatably attached to the frame.

3. The apparatus of claim 2, further comprising at least three wheels rotatably attached to the frame.

4. The apparatus of claim 2, further comprising four wheels rotatably attached to the frame.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the back support further comprises: a lower support pad for making contact with a lower portion of a user's torso; and an upper support pad for making contact with an upper portion of a user's torso.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the back support further comprises a pivoting connection for providing a plurality of positions of the back support relative to the frame.

7. The apparatus of claim 6, further comprising a locking mechanism for holding the pivoting connection in a selected position.

8. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising an arm support connected to the frame.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, further comprising a handle disposed at a distal end of the arm support opposed the frame.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, further comprising a portable heart monitor display connected to the handle.

11. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a portable heart monitor display connected to the frame.

12. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: the frame comprising a generally rectangular shape and having a generally horizontal upper member and a generally horizontal lower member interconnected at respective opposed ends by opposed generally vertical members; the back support comprising a generally B-shape member having a generally straight portion connected at opposed ends to the upper and lower members respectively and a curved portion extending in a direction opposed the rolling member.

13. The apparatus of claim 12, further comprising a generally U-shaped arm support connected to the frame at opposed corners and extending in the direction opposed the rolling member and extending beyond the generally B-shaped member.

14. The apparatus of claim 13, further comprising opposed ends of the generally U-shaped arm support being bent to form respective handles.

15. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a free weight removably attached to the apparatus.

16. The apparatus of claim 15, further comprising a shoulder support connected to the frame.

17. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a support base connected to the frame.

18. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a shoulder support connected to the frame.

19. A squat exercise apparatus comprising: a back support for receiving force exerted by the torso of a user as the user leans against the back support with the back support between the user and a substantially vertical support surface; and a means for rolling the back support along the substantially vertical support surface as the user performs a squat exercise.

20. The apparatus of claim 19, further comprising a means for applying a supplemental vertical force to the apparatus as the user performs the squat exercise.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This application relates generally to the field of exercise equipment, and more particularly, to an exercise apparatus for use in performing a leg squat exercise.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The squat is an exercise routine wherein the knees are moved between extended and bent conditions while a balance is maintained over the feet. In this manner, the weight of the body is moved downward and upward against gravity to exercise the legs and lower torso. Additional weight may be attached to the exerciser's shoulders or waist in order to increase the effort required to perform a squat.

[0003] The basic squat exercise is started with both feet flat on a floor with the feet spaced shoulder width apart. As the knees are bent the torso must be leaned forward in order to maintain a balance over the feet. The angle of the back from vertical tends to increase as the descent increases. This rotation about the hip joints will concentrate stress on the exerciser's lower back erector spinae muscle group, thereby increasing the chance of injury to the lower back. The tilting of the back will also cause the knees to extend forwardly over the toes, thereby placing substantial shear forces on the knee joint, which may lead to retro-patellar crepitus and patellofemoral disease. Thus, great care must be taken to avoid injuries when doing a squat exercise.

[0004] In addition to the chance of injury, it is sometimes difficult to maintain a balance over the feet when performing a squat exercise. This difficulty can become dangerous when supplemental weights are being used. It is desirable to have an assistant, i.e. spotter, on each side of a person performing a squat when using supplemental weights. However, spotters may not always be available.

[0005] A variety of devices have been developed to make the squat exercise safer and/or more comfortable. U.S. Pat. No. 87,465 was issued on Mar. 2, 1869, for a shoulder strap for a weight lifting device. More recently, squat exercise machines are described in U.S. Pat No. 4,333,644 dated Jun. 8, 1982, and U.S. Pat. No. 6,251,052 dated Jun. 26, 2001. These modern exercise machines are large, heavy and expensive, thus limiting their practical application to a gymnasium environment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] What is needed is a squat exercise apparatus providing safety and comfort for the user with reduced complexity, weight, size and expense when compared with prior art devices. Such an improved squat exercise apparatus should be affordable for individual to use in a home environment; it should be light enough to be moved from place to place by one person; it should be small enough to be conveniently stored in a home storage closet; and it should provide the user with a reduced risk of lower back and knee injuries.

[0007] A squat exercise apparatus is described herein as including: a frame; a back support connected to the frame; and a rolling member connected to the frame and protruding beyond the frame to make rolling contact with a support surface when the apparatus is urged against the support surface by a user's back being leaned against the back support. The rolling member may be a plurality of wheels rotatably attached to the frame. The back support may include a lower support pad for making contact with a lower portion of a user's torso, and an upper support pad for making contact with an upper portion of a user's torso. The back support may include a pivoting connection for providing a plurality of positions of the back support relative to the frame, with a locking mechanism for holding the pivoting connection in a selected position. An arm support may be connected to the frame with a handle disposed at a distal end of the arm support opposed the frame. A portable heart monitor display may be connected to the handle or frame. The apparatus may further include: the frame having a generally rectangular shape and having a generally horizontal upper member and a generally horizontal lower member interconnected at respective opposed ends by opposed generally vertical members; the back support having a generally B-shape member having a generally straight portion connected at opposed ends to the upper and lower members respectively and a curved portion extending in a direction opposed the rolling member. The apparatus may further include a generally U-shaped arm support connected to the frame at opposed corners and extending in the direction opposed the rolling member and extending beyond the generally B-shaped member. One or more free weight may be removably attached to the apparatus, and a shoulder support may be connected to the frame.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] These and other advantages of the invention will be more apparent from the following description in view of the drawings that show:

[0009] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a squat exercise apparatus.

[0010] FIG. 2 is a side view of the apparatus of FIG. 1 in use.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0011] One embodiment of an improved squat exercise apparatus 10 is illustrated in FIG. 1. The squat exercise apparatus 10 includes a frame 12, a back support 14, an arm support 16, and four wheels 18 rotatably connected to the frame 12. As illustrated in FIG. 2, a user 20 may lean against the back support 14 to urge the wheels 18 to make rolling contact with a substantially vertical support surface 22, such as a wall, while performing a squat exercise. The user 20 may grasp the apparatus 10 by respective left and right handles 24, 26 and rest his/her forearms on the arm support 16. As the knees are bent to perform the squat exercise, the squat apparatus 10 rolls along the support surface 22 while maintaining user's back in a straight position, thereby limiting the stress on the lower back. Balance is maintained by positioning the feet slightly forward of the shoulders to maintain a force against the support surface 22, thereby limiting the shear forces on the knee joint. The back support 12 receives the force exerted by the torso of a user 20 as the user 20 leans against the back support 12 with the back support 12 between the user 20 and the substantially vertical support surface 22.

[0012] Frame 12 of FIG. 1 has a generally rectangular shape formed with a generally horizontal upper member 28 and a generally horizontal lower member 30 interconnected at respective opposed ends by opposed generally vertical members 32. The frame 12 may be formed of bent tubular steel of approximately 1.25″ diameter. Alternatively, materials such as aluminum or graphite composite may be used to reduce the weight of apparatus 10. The frame may be formed as a skeleton as illustrated in FIG. 1 to minimize the weight of the device, or it may be a generally planar member or a combination of both structural shapes. The overall weight of the basic apparatus 10 may thus be limited to about 6-9 pounds. The generally rectangular shape is softened to be more aesthetically pleasing by using gently curved members 28, 30, 32. The frame 12 may be formed from a single piece of material or from separate components that are interconnected such as with fasteners or by welding. The terms “interconnected”, “connected” and “attached” are used throughout this document in their general sense to include both direct joining of two members and indirect joining of two members via an intermediate structure.

[0013] The back support 14 is illustrated in FIG. 1 as being a generally B-shape member having a generally straight portion 34 connected at opposed ends to the frame upper and lower members 28, 30 respectively and having a curved portion 36 extending in a direction opposed the wheels 18, i.e. away from the support surface 22 and toward the user 20. The curved portion 36 is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it also provides additional space for accommodating the natural curvature of a person's back to provide a neutral alignment of the spine when in use. The back support 14 may be formed of the same material as the frame 12 or a different material. One may appreciate that the back support 14 and the frame 12 may be combined into a single structure. The back support 14 may also include an upper pad 38 and a lower pad 40 made of a soft material such as covered foam rubber for providing a comfortable contact surface for the user's upper and lower torso. The upper pad 38 and lower pad 40 are attached proximate respective upper and lower portions of the curved portion 36 by respective pivoting connections 42 for providing a plurality of positions of the back support 14 relative to the frame 12 to comfortably accommodate a variety of users 20. A locking mechanism 44 such as a detent or pin may be used for holding the pivoting connection 42 in a selected position.

[0014] The wheels 18 provide a means for rolling the back support along the substantially vertical support surface 22 as the user 20 performs a squat exercise. The wheels 18 may be partially recessed into the frame vertical members 32 and rotatably attached with high performance bearings such as are commonly used on in-line skates. The wheels 18 are preferably a relatively soft light colored material such as nylon so that they do not damage the support surface 22 during use. The plurality of wheels 18 is just one type of rolling member that may be used. Alternatively, casters, a ball-in-socket arrangement, or a combination thereof may be used to facilitate the movement of the frame 12 across the support surface 22 during use. FIG. 1 illustrates the use of four wheels 18. Preferably at least three wheels are used in order to provide stability against rocking of the frame 12 in the plane of the support surface 22.

[0015] The arm support 16 may be a generally U-shaped member connected to the frame 12 at opposed corners and extending in a direction opposed the rolling members 18 (i.e. toward the user 20) and extending beyond the generally B-shaped back support member 14. The handles 26 may be formed by bending the distal ends of the arm support 16 to an appropriate angle. A padded grip, such as a bicycle handle grip, may be used as a handle 26 for comfort. The arm support 16 may include respective left and right forearm pads 46. A heart monitor display 48 may be attached to the frame 12, for example attached to one of the handles 26. Any commercially available portable heart monitor may be used, such as the Cycle Computer™ available from Fitness Technologies, Inc. of Bogota, N.J., or the Polar M21 Heart Rate Monitor available over the Internet at www.thevitaminbin.com.

[0016] The squat apparatus 10 may include a means for applying a supplemental vertical force as the user 20 performs the squat exercise. A supplemental weight attachment 52 may be provided for connecting a tension cord 54 and/or free weights 56. The weight attachments 52 are illustrated in FIG. 1 as spring-loaded pins on opposed sides of the frame 12. The hooks at respective ends of an elastic tension cord 54 may be engaged with the weight attachment 52. The user 20 may then stand on the tension cord 54, as shown in FIG. 2, or otherwise secure the tension cord(s) 54 to provide additional downward force during the squat exercise. If used with free weights 56, the supplemental weight attachment 52 may take the form of a bar for hanging standard barbell weights. FIG. 2 illustrates the use of a triangular shaped free weight 56 that is suspended from the supplemental weight attachment 52. Alternatively, free weights may be supported directly on any portion of the apparatus 10. For example, any desired number of ring weights 57 may be added to the back support straight portion 34, or may be connected to any convenient portion of arm support 16 or shoulder support 62. Such weights are designed to be easily attached and removed to the squat exercise apparatus 10 at the discretion of the user.

[0017] The free weight 56 may provide a second function as a removable support base 58 for positioning the apparatus 10 at a distance above the floor 60 when not in use. This additional height can help a user 20 to position the apparatus 10 for use, and it may provide a level of safety against injury in the event that the user 20 loses control of the apparatus and it drops to the floor 60. Alternatively, the support base 58 may be formed of a lighter material such as that used for the tubular members of the frame 12 and may be permanently removably attached to the apparatus 10 at any convenient location. The support base 58 may have an adjustable height to accommodate various user preferences.

[0018] When used with a tension cable 54 or supplemental weight 56, 57, the apparatus 10 may include a shoulder support 62 attached to the frame 12 to allow the user 20 to exert an upward force through the shoulders. The shoulder support 62 may include one or more pads 64 for comfort. The shoulder support 62 may be made easily removable from the apparatus 10 for the convenience of various users 20 who prefer to use the apparatus 10 without supplemental weights 56 or tension cables 54.

[0019] While the preferred embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described herein, it will be obvious that such embodiments are provided by way of example only. Numerous variations, changes and substitutions will occur to those of skill in the art without departing from the invention herein. Accordingly, it is intended that the invention be limited only by the spirit and scope of the appended claims.