T Nation

Belt Carryover a Glared Over Weakness?


Does anybody else get a lot out of a thick 13mm lever belt when they squat, I forgot my belt one day this week and had a nice easy 3x3 at 75 percent, which was 455. Doing it without a belt felt like an RPE 9 instead of a 5 or 6?

Is this a glaring weakness that needs to be worked on?

Or is this pretty common?

I haven’t done a one rep max without belt but I’m guessing that it would be 50 to 60 pounds less


I don’t think that’s too surprising.

I try to do some work with a belt and some without. All other things being equal, I can certainly handle the same weight more easily with a belt than without, and I don’t think 50 pounds is an unusual separation for a strong guy.


When I squat, it’s primarily to get strong legs. Not to get my ‘bracing’ muscles stronger. That means I have no issues helping my bracing muscles with a belt to get more work on my legs.


Yea, the RPE definitely goes up, while beltless for me. I got a feeling that my deadlift plateau is from weak core stability and recently started training beltless. Tossed the belt and my abs are fried after my pulling and squatting sessions and doms for days afterwards. I think I’ve been using it as a crutch for far too long, even though I’ve always programmed leg raises, ab wheels and straight leg situps as assistance. I’m also 6’5 and have got a long torso too though.


TLDR: Sounds about right to have a gap with belt v beltless. For powerlifting purposes then it doesn’t really matter. You can choose to improve your beltless performance if you wish. For sports/athletic performance there’s other considerations.

Squatting more with a belt than without is pretty common and in people who have more than a few weeks in a belt pretty much a given.

The difference between the numbers comes down to several factors e.g. training history including how much beltless work has been or is done by an athlete.

I dunno what you were expecting exactly when you loaded up 75% of your belted max.

No surprises that it was a harder or higher RPE cos 75% 1RM with belt is something > 80% 1RM beltless. Most of the time I’ve seen belted and beltless treated as two different movements/exercises each with their own max off which to program.

As if whether or not this is worth working on…This is in the powerlifting section so the goal is to up the comp movements and nobody cares for how much you can squat beltless or how close to your belted squat it is. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be any beltless work at all or minimal beltless work. There’s an arguments from both extremes and plenty who advocate for a middle ground but that’s something for another thread.

If there’s some goals involving improved performance in sport where you won’t be wearing a belt then maybe it’s worth working on but that’s another story also.


Personally I wouldn’t worry about it, what you describe sounds normal. There are some coaches like Sheiko who say to always wear a belt for all work sets (he said something like "wear a belt once 60kg is on the bar) and other coaches like Mike Tuchscherer who recommend that all non-competiton variations are done beltless, although he doesn’t insist on it if the lifter feels it is a safety issue. Hard to say that Sheiko’s methods don’t work though. One thing to remember, the belt doesn’t replace or reduce ab muscle activation, it actually causes you to recruit more muscles. People are weaker without belt because they have less core stability due to the fact that some muscles are not working as hard.


In my non-scientifically justified approach, (with a 600-pound deadlift max), I typically do warmups at 135, 225, and 315 before the belt is a consideration. Some days I’ll put it on for all sets from 405 up; every few weeks, I’ll go beltless for the whole workout, but I rarely go much past 405 on fully belt-less days.


That’s pretty much the same as me, I put a belt on once I’m over 405 for deadlift and 315 for squat. I usually do some lighter submaximal work after my top set and if it happens to be under 405 I will still wear a belt for the sake of specificity. Right now I’m training for a meet, other than RDLs I’m wearing a belt for all squat and deadlift work sets but further out from a meet I usually do some beltless variations too.


Belt less at 6’5" may be Extra tough. You mentioned the long torso.

Imagine a 5’6" dude trying to dunk. Its just harder for him.

If you can feel Belt less training making your mid section stronger, keep it up.

But I would listen to your body ( the RPE, I guess). If the percentage some short guys says to use for “light” work feels very difficult, don’t rush just to hit that guys numbers.


I was told by Andy Bolton if you have 30% on the bar he has and believes you should have your belt on. Always stuck with me. So, I am generally belted by 2 plates per side. I may not have it cranked down but it is on at least tight enough to cue me to brace by feeling my core expand into the belt


The only reason I can see why you should spend a lot of time and effort trying to get strong without a belt is if you are training for another sport. We wear belts in competition so it’s not really a crutch if you use it in training. On the other hand, I once did a hypertrophy block where I didn’t use a belt at all, when I put the belt back on it felt like I didn’t know how to use it anymore and I couldn’t lift more than I did beltless.


have experienced the same have pretty much the same thought process behind it.


I use the belt from 50% up in the squat, 60% up in the deadlift. Best to leave the heavy beltless stuff to the raw instagram nazis and KK