- Would continuing with beltless training pose any safety risks as I continue to move more iron? I have every intention of getting as strong as I can, and I don’t think it is unreasonable to assume that I’ll be slapping another set of plates on my big lifts in the next couple of years.[/quote]
Plenty of people train heavy without a belt but I take the route of having XXX pounds on my back is not the time to be training / worrying about the core. Belt up and take advantage of the positive benefits of wearing the belt. If for nothing else, longevity in lifting. FWIW You can use it for a dip belt / belt squat / pull up belt too with a length of chain and a carabiner.
2) Could I expect a significant increase on my lifts if I were to begin using a belt?[/quote]
If I use the belt as it’s intended I typically can triple what I can 1rm. I know guys who don’t get shit out of a belt tho and I know guys who can’t seem to lift shit without it. I think it’s a mental game with some folks and the ability to “properly” use it.
3) Am I leaving any overall health benefit on the table by lifting beltless? Could I reasonably expect to get an overall better workout in with a belt?[/quote]
I believe you are. why not use every tool to your advantage? Why limit your squatting / deadlifting gains by your core? Belt up, make gravity your bitch and work the core after you smash PR’s.
EDIT - When wearing a belt, if I lean / round over, the belt digs into my ribs. The belt helps keep me more upright and keeps me in a better position to move more weight. More weight = more awesome. CAn I do it without the belt, certainly but the belt is that friendly reminder to keep my shit in check.
4) Does beltless training at max effort sets offer any notable advantages for the non-competitive lifter?[/quote]
I am of the opinion that regardless of what you can squat beltless, you will be able to squat more with a belt. I don’t care how bulletproof your core is. If beltless was “optimal” then the raw competitions would go beltless 100%. People wear belts for a reason. Those reasons have been well laid out for the past 50 years. You have to decide if that tool is worth your time. I believe you will find that it IS. I’m not saying be the guy who rocks the belt from the time he enters the gym till he hits the showers but a belt will serve you well.
5) Should I just buy a damn belt and see if I like it?[/quote]
Yes. Get a single prong 13 or 10 mm belt. Either will be great and will last a very long time, assuming you don’t abuse the shit out of it and or outgrow it. On that note, one can add more hole to a belt and make it smaller but no one can add length to a belt. On the break in issue, I have an INZER 13mm forever belt. I can almost crack it like a bullwhip. Supple as hell but supportive as it was new. I have a great “break in” method that I do with all my belts. Simply wearing one till it breaks in is dumb IMHO. and that would take waaaay too long.
EDIT to further explain the awesomeness of belting up = My buddy who does MMA. This guy is one of those guys who does ab work like a fiend. This guy can do some of that “Hannibal for king” shit. (The guy who does all the sick playground strength feats on youtube.) He also is able to take kicks to the midsection to show off his core strength. The point I’m trying to make is this guy does NOT slouch on ab work.
Same guy squatting give me shit for using a belt, calls it my crutch. I finally talk him into trying it instead of running his cocksucker. After coaching him on how to properly use the belt, dude smashes a squat PR and on the DL is able to rep his old PR. He now owns his own belt and has been made a believer.