T Nation

When To Use a Belt?


Hi guys,

I was wondering at what point you have started using a belt for back support on the heavier lifts such as deads, squats, O-lifts etc.

Now I fully realise the importance of training the abs and lower back hard to improve the support muscles as much as possible, but is there a point at which a belt should be used for safety reasons?

Also, should this point be relative to how large the load is compared to the lifter? For example, I weigh 95kg at the moment. My max deadlift is about 160kg. This is still 30kg off a double bodyweight deadlift, which seems to be a standard that needs to be reached before being considered strong on the lift. So, as I am still "weak" on this lift, should I consider using a belt for lifts close to 1RM?

I hope this makes sense, any advice would be appreciated.



Dave Tate (or some other similarly amazing powerlifter) has said that he only uses a belt for 1 RM testing and max efforts, and even then he sometimes doesn't. And the man can certainly squat/deadlift more than 3X his body weight.


I did read this somewhere. What got me thinking on the topic is when I was flicking through the pics on the Diablo Barbell thread nearly every photo showed the lifters wearing a belt.

Granted, they are powerlifters who would be off the scale in terms of the loads they use compared to everyone else, but what about the more average lifter like myself and most others on T-Nation? I'm not a powerlifter but I like to use high load and low rep sets frequently.


for training purposes i think u shud never use a belt unless u are not training ur back and core. for example using it for rows to tale the stress off ur back so u can focus on rowing.

the belt just makes u lose out on core strength.


I stated it before, but I use a belt on heavy squats. It helps me compress my abs and explode up with the weight.


What I do is only use a belt for maximal loads on the squat or clean. I feel it helps keep my back safe and I can hold it tighter that way. I've been going more and more away from using a belt.

I would say if you want to cut them out, just do it in baby steps. Otherwise your core may not be accustomed to the maximal load.


I've read somewhere where Dave Tate or Jim Wendler, one of those guys, said to use a belt above 80%...

Another way is to work up as heavy as you can without a belt then add the belt in to complete a few more sets...

Personally I've never felt using a belt on the big lifts (squat, dead, goodmornings) held back my core strength. I mean as my lifts went up, so did my non-belt weight on those same lifts...kinda like as my Power Squat increases so does my full squat w/o full squatting...


I agree with what's been basically said - using a belt is only a good idea when attempting maximal or near-maximal lifts. The abs can and ought to be trained to maintain adequate intrathoracic pressure for even maximal squats and deads, but there's no harm in using one as a safety measure when competing.



This is addresses my main point, 80% for Dave Tate is WAY in excess of my 80%, even when relative to different bodyweights. I can understand for top powerlifters, as I mentioned before they are off the scale in terms of the loads used compared to the average trainee. I was mainly curious about if you guys used belts and at what sort of loads necessitated using a belt.

Thanks for the replies so far, I look forward to hearing from more of you.



Cheese 'n' Rice.

What the flock is wrong with you people?

It's a flocking belt, for flocks sake. Wear it when you think you need it.

Here's a hint....If you walk in to the gym with it on, and leave with it still on, you are over doing it.

Conversely, if you are sitting here saying, "Man my back is f'ed up, maybe I should have worn my belt." You are probably pretty close to the truth.

Just use some flocking sense. It's not like spreading your knees for an abortion.




Generally any attempts over 90%. Those lifts are more neurally important that reinforcing my competition ab position is good.


When i train i ususally never use my belt for squatting unles i am going for a pr and always use it for deads. And i use my belts on like romanian deadlifts if its a auxiliary lift for me.


I was talking with somebody about this this weekend. I say use a belt whenever you think you need one. If a paltry 4 inches of leather gives you the confidence to take on maximal weights, than I say the ends justify the means. That said, if you are skipping out on the core-strength training benefits of beltless squatting and pulling, you need to come correct on assistance lifts for your mid-section- e.g. barbell sidebends, weighted leg raises, rotary movements, etc. I remeber reading an interview with Ed Coan where he said he did not do direct ab traning- but just did all his lifts beltless early in the traning cycle. On the other hand, it seems that few can pull off this spartan approach to traning.


I found that once my torso and ab strength adjusted, my lifts went way up without a belt. 1rm test and contests only are what I try to stick to now.


Hey hey...Do you guys who only use the belt for 1rms and competition situations find that there's a difference in the physical "cues" between training situations without the belt and your belted situations?

Core strength issues aside, would you not practice the technique with the belt as opposed to sorting it out "on the night" or when you hit a 1rm attempt?

Happy New Year all...


I asked Coach Waterbury this same question, and his response was only when testing 1RM or if you plan on training for powerlifting.


When to use a belt?

Just about NEVER but be sure to always wear your:
and don't forget to carry around your:
5)Water bottle
7)Training Log

Now, you're all set to be a stud at Ballys/Golds/Worlds/24 hr. etc....

Just say No to belts, gloves, wraps and to training in anyplace with mirrors, chrome, and daycare and you'll do fine.

EOR[end of rant]


Guys in my pe class will tell me when I'm deadlifting and power cleaning that i need to wear a belt, or else I'll shit my guts out. I just smile and finish my set.


Only when you plan to max out after you have fully developed your raw strength.