T Nation

Back Belt

I was watching some guys doing heavy squats the other day, one of them would cinch up his belt so friggen tight that his buddy had to help him get it buckled (his potbelly didn’t help the matter). The other guy had his loose enough that he wouldn’t even unbuckle it after doing a set. I’ve even seen people doing squats and deadlifts without belts at all.

So how tight is too tight, and when should you go without?

If you have your form right, I wouldn’t recommend belts. Of course, if you know you will be lifting for PRs then you can go with one.

In general, not using a belt will give you a strong core that will help your lifts.

If you want to wear a belt I’d recommend tightening it so it is somewhat tight when your abdomen is relaxed. When you flex and tighten your abdoment it pushes out against the belt, so the belt helps to provide core stability. This results in an increased workload and less chance of injury using heavy weights.

While I don’t see a problem with wearing a belt occassionally for very heavy lifts, I don’t believe it should be worn all the time. (you always see some guy in the gym wearing it on every set squating, benching, curling, EVERYTHING) Wearing a belt all the time results in sub-par core strength. I think one of the authors here wrote an article about it a while back, I can’t remember though. You’d be better off squating without the belt so you develop stronger core muscles (sort of a natural weight belt).

It’s sorta like wearing wrist straps to do pullups, rows, deadlifts, etc. They allow you to lift heavier weights, and are good to use occassionally, but using them all the time leads to under-developed forearm strength.

~Paul

I stopped using a belt a few years ago, I think it helped me improve my form and technique