T Nation

Benefits of Training without a Belt


I recently began using my belt a lot less, for no particular reason other that I do not want to be too dependent on it. That got me thinking however about the real benefits of beltless training or better the lack of benefits.

For example if you compete in powerlifting you are never going to compete without a belt. At least if you do for whatever reason you are leaving pounds on the platform. So training with a belt is part of sport specific training.

In strongman you do compete without a belt for some more dynamic events because the belt gets in the way or you are too restricted in breathing. However you do compete in more static strength events with a belt.

A number of studies that I have seen found that not wearing a belt does not lead to greater abdominal muscle activation but actually the contrary.

I know some people use beltless training to have a variation in their program that doesn’t allow for maximal weights.

I am not asking why we aren’t wearing a belt for everything we do. I am however wondering what we gain from doing main lifts or close variations without a belt. Is there anything I am missing? What are your personal reasons for training beltless?


For me, it’s a mix of just wanting a change; building confidence; and some lifts not suiting a belt.

1 - wanting a change: what it says. If I’m squatting after DL, for example, it’ll be for lighter loads so I won’t need a belt per se so I don’t use one which makes a nice change.

2 - I never use a belt during my deload weeks. The loads are low enough it’s safe to do so, but the top set is generally heavy enough I would otherwise use a belt. When it feels good beltless, I know I’ve gotten stronger.

3 - stuff like snatch grip DL and front squats feel weird to me with a belt.


I’ve found doing beltless deadlifts with a stiff bar and a slight deficit really help me improve my use of leg and hip drive on regular deads. Not using the belt forces me get and stay more upright for the pull.

That’s pretty specific, I’m not sure if that’s what you were looking for.