To Belt, Or Not To Belt?

So one coach tells me, you should never use your suit, belt, or bench shirt in training. Then when you do use equipment in competition, you get a “boost” off it. He argues that if you can squat 400 raw, you’re strong, but if you can squat 450 assisted, you’re not.

Another coach (much younger) says use the equipment for 3RM and above, because you can use more weight and more safely. Greater load in training means greater gains, and therefore bigger lifts in competition. Also, particularly with the shirt, the muscle activation is different, and you need to be used to that.

So who is right?

Go with the second. The first sounds like a dumb-ass.

You need to have at least some training in your gear because it changes the lift. If you have never benched in a shirt and you think you’ll try at your first meet, you will be introduced to the bomb.

Squatting doesn’t take as much IMO. But I still wear a suit more often closer to the meet to get the “feel” of it again. And I wear breifs or a suit with straps down when squatting wide because it tears up my hips not to.

The 400 450 comment is dumb. If he competed RRRAAAWWW and squatted 400 and I did 450 in the same weight class, I just beat him.

If you are not well used to benching or squatting with gear (and not just any gear… it HAS to be the gear you will be using at a meet) you will bomb out most likely. The bar travels in a much different groove with gear than without and with one brand/size or another. The last 6-8 weeks you should become intimately familiar with what you will be wearing in the meet.

I have often thought about using a belt vs not using a belt in my training. I guess it comes down to are you training more for a sport such a pling where moving the most weight is key or are you strictly strength training? I am a little of both, I train like a powerlifter and plan to do my first meet in march belt only. So I use a belt in training but I still like to train for pure strength too. One method I was using was working up without the belt until I got to a heavy 3rm then I would put it on. I would mark the weight in my log and next time try to beat that before putting on the belt so this way I would increase my belted and non belted max. Another idea a friend told me about used by some club somewhere is the lifters work up to failure to a max without their belts then put them on an squeeze out another max.

it looks like you answered your question in your question. the older coach is just that a coach from a diffrent era.

I use supportive equipment, but only when i get close to my 1RM and then only for support. Both wrist wraps and a belt are just that (to me atleast) i have lifted in comp.s before and i just don’t like using shirts although i have and when i did i used squate racks for lockouts during my bench press training while wearing my shirts. which was really, really helpfull

the only thing the old coach will offer you is 2nd place…this is old school thinking and totally wrong…in modern powerlifting learning to use gear is a huge part of the game…the guy who is better at his gear will usually win…remember there no such thing as lucky there is only the trained and the untrained…you dont want to be enter a meet as the untrained…rb

I say dont use the belt or shirt while you are working out cause doing it raw it will be all your strength and energy with out being helped. Then when you do use them you will look like superman and you will busting out a little bit more then usual

That may work with a belt but a shirt is something you have to learn.

I’m not a great fan of the shirt at all, it often upsets my groove. I’ve read that it favours those with strong triceps (or that it needs strong tris to be effective - I don’t remember which), and that ain’t me. I don’t need help off the bottom, I need help locking out! If only there was a shirt for that…

I think there is a place for naked training, though. Here’s a quick story from last week:

I was doing my deadlift singles, working up to a max, with suit and belt, and the old coach comes up to me and dares me to lift it without them - he thinks their benefit is mostly psychological, he thinks I’m afraid of heavy weights without all that “armour” on. Afraid?! Me!? So I had to prove him wrong.

I take off the belt and suit, standing there in my briefs and a t-shirt, totally psyched up, drawing a crowd (ok, only three people), and I approach the bar on 385. It flies up. After a rest, We go to 395, a new pb, clear my head of that feeling that this is a good way to get an injury (or a reputation), and I get it up (the weight, perverts, not the snake).

Finally, I get 400, slow, just barely. It wouldn’t pass in competition. BIG scrapes up my thighs, but full of pride, I finish my workout. The coach was surprised, and felt he had made his point. But really I was the surprised one. Two pbs, no gear. Sure, the adrenaline helped, but I underestimated myself.

And boy was my back sore the next day - my erectors took a real pounding! And that is the benefit - core training beltless is WAY harder.

I wonder if I could strip off in competition? :stuck_out_tongue:

Belts increase intraabdominal pressure, which is a good thing if you would like to have a healthy spine. Anything around 80% or above of your 1RM should have a belt involved.

I don’t use a belt for everday training. But when I try to max out or do loads that I’m unsure of, I use a belt. They have their time and place, but excessive use can lead to detrimental effects. What if one day you find you have to lift something heavy and move it? Are you gonna wait to find your belt or just pick it up?

One the topic of a bench shirt. Lets make a quick analogy. David Carr plays football. Shoulder pads are uncomfortable and aren’t the best invention for throwing. So he practices without pads and when game time comes he puts them on to throw. Make sense? Not at all. It’s like playing soccer without your cleats. You gotta get used to the stuff.

[quote]greenslade wrote:
I wonder if I could strip off in competition? :P[/quote]

Many get nothing, if not being detrimental, out of deadlift suits. If you lifted more without one, I’d say you are one of them.

I train at Diablo Barbell, the premier powerlifting gym on the west coast. So, I am lucky to have some great people to learn from.

We squat/DL in briefs almost always. This is done to save our hips. We suit up several times before a meet in order to learn our gear.

We bench raw except on max effort days when we do use wraps. Shirting up is also done several times prior to the meet, or as much as is neccessary to learn the groove of the shirt.

If you go to a meet never having used your gear you are going to either get hurt or bomb. It’s just a very bad idea. However, I do not think that wearing your suit/shirt for every 3rm lift is neccessary either. There is some truth to the idea that the stronger you are lifting raw the stronger you should be in gear. The key is to spend some time in the gear without over doing it and overworking your CNS.

Best of luck with it!