Squating w/ or without a belt?

When you squat heavy(85%+ 1rm) should you use a belt if your primary goal is explosive power?
I was talking to a friend who started using one because he said it felt like his vertebrae were compacted all day after his workouts. I’ve experienced the same thing. not a muscular pain, but in the spine. any comments would be appreciated. P.S. IF YOU DON’T SQUAT DEEP, DON’T REPLY!

I competed in powerlifting in high school and never used a belt unless i was competeing. I felt it would make my back weak.

I always squat deep and never use a belt. I don’t however always squat heavy. I cycle 3-6 reps with higher rep ranges. I experience a little bit of low back tightness but I find a bit of stretching after legs helps tremendously. Also I will sometimes just hold on to the chin bar and hang and stretch for a while. I imagine that it isn’t a bad idea to use one at 85% and up but I dont personally use one.

belts arent gonna make your back weak! for christs sake, they really don’t do anything like that. mainly they protect you from shit like hernia. they don’t really help in the actual lift at all. a lot of guys wanna look macho and not use em, if youre one of them then dont wear one i guess,…

I train Westside Style and only use a belt on 90%-max. I imagine 85% would be ok. Never with less. Belts will not protect against injuries. They can even cause them. It seems to help with stability issues on the heaviest of lifts.

Thanks for the response. I don’t thik I’m gonna start using a belt. As an athlete, I really need my core to be strong. so it sounds safe to not use a belt. Thanks.

I usually squat heavy, and I have never used a belt. Your torso should be strong enough to stabalize your self, my only variation, I dont wear shoes when I squat, the stability is better, and it helps when going deep…builds a better teardrop.

If you watched any of the weightlifting during the Olympics you’ll soon appreciate squatting strength. Those guys squat upwards of 95 to 100% not only on a daily basis but often twice per day. None I have seen train ever squat with a belt. Hang from a chin bar for a few minutes before and after you squat and see if that does the trick.

i think you should be careful your not overtraining your lower back.i never wear a belt.according to Charles Poliquin, a belt only shifts the stress from the L4-5 reigon of the lower back (where it’s suppose t be)to the cervical part.i think the belt is useless. when you got 300lbs on your back,you got 300lbs on your back belt or no belt.

Another WSBer here and I wear a belt for singles only. Contrary to a previous post, a tight belt CAN add to your lifts - I get approx 20-30 lbs on my sq/dl from one, and I DO work the hell out of my abs, so it’s not from a core deficiency.

After a set of anything that I feel has compressed my spine, I go over to the roman chair/dip station and prop myself on my elbows, letting my lower body hang down and twisting back and forth slowly. A few deep breaths and allowing the low back to relax delivers a satisfying traction effect (tension on the spinal column).
You can do it on a pullup bar (can become grip training on leg day), but its easier to suspend yourself longer and relax the muscles using the pads on the roman chair. - Nylo

Belts do not make your back weak, but really do not protect you from injury. If you push out on them like you are supossed to, then they are really effective, and can add punds to your squat, if you don’t push out on them then they are more or less worthless

I squat deep, I squat as heavy as I can for 6 reps max and I wouldn’t dream of using a belt. I used one at first and just end up with a weak(er) torso. Suggest you guys read “Back Strong and Beltless” by Paul Chek in T-Mag issue 121 onwards if you haven’t already.

Chris, when you talk about “explosive power,” are you referring to something sport-specific, like football? If so, do you see any football players wearing a weight belt on the field?

Squatting ass-to-the-grass, or calves-to-hams, by definition requires explosive power to come out of the hole. I quit wearing a belt at all in the gym a couple or three years ago, after reading so much about core strength, abdominal wall weaknesses, etc. Initially both my squat and deadlift poundages went down a bit, but quickly, only a couple of months later, they were higher, and now they're much higher than they've ever been in my life.

Just a couple of months ago I convinced my sixteen year old son to discontinue use of his belt, he did, and after the same initial period of refining technique (which is a large part of both movements), his weights are higher (in fact, Bob squatted 420# last night in an Inzer Z Suit).

Pushing out on one's abdominals, squeezing your butt coming out of the hole, etc., there is so much technique that makes a big difference. Study King and Staley and the other experts in our archives, watch Ian King's leg videotape, and you'll have a fresh perspective on needing a belt. I say, go without!