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Should I Use A Weight Lifting Belt?

I’ve been bulking recently, and my numbers have been going up and up ever since. However, now that the amount of weight I’m beginning to move is up there, some people at my gym tell me I should wear a belt. Personally, the only thing I bring to the gym is a pair of gloves.

I never liked using belts, or straps, or any other workout peripheral that may take away from my workout, because if I need assistance to lift the weight, then I’m not convinced that I’ve really mastered that weight. If it makes it easier for me, I don’t like it.

Also, relying on things like belts will create muscular imbalances and only weaken your core in the long run, because you have that belt fulfilling the role your core should be playing.

I’ve always figured that as long as I keep my core tight, straight, and flexed, I should be ok. What do you think? Do you use a belt for your squats/deadlifts? Should I be using them anyway, just to be on the safe side?

As always, thanks guys.

I’m starting to think that I should start using one too. It’s my understanding that the belt helps you hold the intra-abdominal pressure to support your back and thus prevent injury but does not actually help your lift, except by giving you more confidence and safety. I don’t see a downside.

Stu

I totally agree with you, but I’m sort of a beginner too. I know it helps with intravascular pressure. I only really think about putting on a belt when I’m at the last sets of heavy singles or doubles, when I can feel my form starting to slip a little.

Even a tiny slip up in form when you’re deadlifting some heavy weight can leave you in so much pain you’re not going to want to be working out for at least a few days.

I don’t use a belt at all and have had no trouble moving 365 through full range (my current max). I have heard that it’s a good idea to use a belt for anything above 90% of your 1RM, but below that percentage the lack of a belt helps train your abs to support the weight.

A belt used too often actually detrains the abs from what I’ve read. I actually experienced this years ago when all my lifting was done with a belt. Ended up with a persistenly sore back and lordosis. I’ve had no such problem while training without a belt.

YMMV. Hope that helps.

I use a belt every once in a blue moon and on some events for strongman. But generally for squatting and DL just on days that my core is lagging or fatigued a LOT. I feel this has aided a TON in the strenght of my mid section as a whole.

Im by no means elite but doing this has allowed me to Pull 635lb DL, and squat just under 5 bills so far with no belt. also now when I use able its more a tool I can really tell the difference.

In the end find what works for you there are many strong S.O.B.'s much stronger then I that use a belt on every rep

Phill

[quote]skidmark wrote:
I don’t use a belt at all and have had no trouble moving 365 through full range (my current max). I have heard that it’s a good idea to use a belt for anything above 90% of your 1RM, but below that percentage the lack of a belt helps train your abs to support the weight.

A belt used too often actually detrains the abs from what I’ve read. I actually experienced this years ago when all my lifting was done with a belt. Ended up with a persistenly sore back and lordosis. I’ve had no such problem while training without a belt.

YMMV. Hope that helps.[/quote]

I had the same issue. Was taught to lift with any belt at least any standing lifts. I don’t think my abs and lower back got strengthened like they should and I had lower back issues for a long time. Since getting back into heavy squats and deadlifts, I haven’t used a belt for anything, and my back feels better than it ever has.

That said, I’m not against belts, but they should be a tool you use for very heavy attempts, not every set.

[quote]
Carnak wrote:
That said, I’m not against belts, but they should be a tool you use for very heavy attempts, not every set.[/quote]

Funny thing about that. At Elite I saw a chart posted in the Q&A. I can’t seem to find it. It showed a couple of lifts and how much the core contracts at what intensity.

A 90% or max DL(don’t remember) lead to about a 40% contraction. A 80% squat about 60% and a 90%+ to 80-90%+ contraction I think. I don’t remember perfectly, but these numbers seem about right.

So what I gather is that you might consider doing the heavy stuff without a belt to get the best core effect, although given the large involvement of the core I suppose this is where injury can happen the easiest, since you might overload the core. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

Thanks a lot guys. Great posts! This is what I gather so far…I currently use 10 x 3 for my deadlifts, and 5 x 5 for my squats, so I guess since these lifts are of a submaximal nature, a belt isn’t really necessary.

What I only do, is use a belt or straps for close to, or maxing out. If your just doing your regular routine, as long as you keep the proper form and all that jazz, you’ll be fine. When your maxing, then I would, but other wise, no.

if you believe that your upcoming set may be with compromised form , use a belt . you dont want it to be your LAST set…right ?

[quote]marlboroman wrote:
if you believe that your upcoming set may be with compromised form , use a belt . you dont want it to be your LAST set…right ?[/quote]

Not to be an ass, but if his upcoming set may be with compromised form he’s trying to move too much weight. A belt may add some stability but it isn’t going to prevent an injury brought on by bad form on a max lift.

I don’t use a belt for anything. I’ve only been lifting a little over a year and my maxes are up to 315 on squats and 385 on DL (@ 5’7" 170#).

In my somewhat-inexperienced opinion, I think the key is not to get too greedy going for new maxes. I push them up slowly, attempting 10-20 lbs higher than previous maxes. I don’t go for 50lb jumps. I think that’s how a lot of people hurt their backs.

Just one more opinion to consider.

Belts are a great tool, if used properly. That ass who throws on some nike trash belt for a set of tricep pressdowns has absolutely no idea of what he’s doing.

Personally, I use two different belts, one for SQ/DL, the other for BP. My SQ/DL belt is a two hinge from Inzer, and I couldn’t live without it. MY BP belt is from oxsportz, and it’s freaking incredible. It gives me the greatest arch I’ve ever had.

As a competitive lifter, it is imperative that I learn how to lift in my equipment, so I wear the belts probably more then most people. For the average person, I would say only use a belt for your heaviest sets…