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Thread: Belt or No Belt

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    Belt or No Belt

    I'm one of the few guys at my gym who does not wear a belt when lifting. I also do not squat 500 pounds or deadlift 700 or anything like that.

    One thing I noticed from all the guys I've talked to who wear a belt is that they have been wearing one since their H.S. or college days. I can't help but wonder if that has put a development weakness in their musculature that could hurt them in real life when they manipulated an object whose weight doesn't worry them...but they don't have their belt on.

    I started out squatting an olympic bar and adding weights very very slowly working on my form...ditto with deadlift and other compounds. The only back problem I've had is when I've pitched forward on a squat and I think I probably would have hurt myself even with a belt on.

    I also am unsure that the belt would do a huge amount of hernia prevention.

    Anyway, I apologize if this subject has been discussed ad nauseum. But I am curious about guys my own age...do you wear a belt and when did you start wearing a belt? any of your thoughts would be interesting to me as well.

    Personally, I believe that not wearing a belt has given me good core strength development. I am very comfortable lifting w/o a belt despite the admonishment of several guys at my gym. But then again, I've only been lifting for a few years and I'm still new compared to alot of you...disaster waiting to happen?
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    Originally Posted by JC480 View Post
    Anyway, I apologize if this subject has been discussed ad nauseum.
    It has .

    Originally Posted by JC480
    Personally, I believe that not wearing a belt has given me good core strength development.
    I believe you have it figured out right...for yourself. I bought a belt when I first started squatting, but dumped it within 4mths or so. For all the reasons you mentioned, I believe you're better off without one. Having said that, I'd suggest wearing one on max squats (2-4 rep range maybe). I can already tell you that you'll get mixed responses here, but from past experience (thread-wise) I think you'll find that most here don't use one for "normal" lifting.
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    Originally Posted by JC480 View Post
    I'm one of the few guys at my gym who does not wear a belt when lifting. I also do not squat 500 pounds or deadlift 700 or anything like that.

    One thing I noticed from all the guys I've talked to who wear a belt is that they have been wearing one since their H.S. or college days. I can't help but wonder if that has put a development weakness in their musculature that could hurt them in real life when they manipulated an object whose weight doesn't worry them...but they don't have their belt on.

    I started out squatting an olympic bar and adding weights very very slowly working on my form...ditto with deadlift and other compounds. The only back problem I've had is when I've pitched forward on a squat and I think I probably would have hurt myself even with a belt on.

    I also am unsure that the belt would do a huge amount of hernia prevention.

    Anyway, I apologize if this subject has been discussed ad nauseum. But I am curious about guys my own age...do you wear a belt and when did you start wearing a belt? any of your thoughts would be interesting to me as well.

    Personally, I believe that not wearing a belt has given me good core strength development. I am very comfortable lifting w/o a belt despite the admonishment of several guys at my gym. But then again, I've only been lifting for a few years and I'm still new compared to alot of you...disaster waiting to happen?

    Some guys will swear by them - I used to years ago but got away from it for whatever reason and have not for over 20 years now I would guess.

    I read somewhere that a lifting belt puts a lot of strain on the typical hernia area - I'll probably get negged for saying this but, I kind of feel like you - I have built up some good core strength as I result.

    At least that's what I believe.

    But also like you, I'm not squatting or dead-lifting 500 lbs either.
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    A belt used properly helps you get stronger and may help keep you safe.
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    When I first started lifting at age 19 everyone in the gym used a belt, gloves wrist wraps, helper strap thingies for your grip etc, so I did too. Now I don't use one. I am putting up way more weight now too. My understanding was that a belt gave your abdomen something to push against when you were lifting. Most guys back in the day just wore them as kind of a costume, what with the black lifting gloves and all.
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    I wear a belt for heavy squats and deads only. Used to wear it for more lifts but learned that I was cheating my core stabalizers doing that.
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    Lifting more than my body weight

    With the squats I felt some loss of stability in the core when push out of the hole with 205pounds. As a newbie, I went and bought a belt and did some research and the belt is reccommend for Near Max and Max lifts. Not to be worn for the entire set or routine. So warm ups with a belt would be cheating the core (imo)
    Last edited by Bronzebird; 06-14-2008 at 11:03 AM.
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    No belt for me but to each his own. In my circle of gym friends, this is a topic you don't bring up like religion, some of those guys start preaching that old time faith.
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    I am one of those guys that loves to squat and dead lift. I use the belt the same way that I use straps. I do all my lighter sets without (at least without it tight) to develop good core strength and only use it on the heavy sets. Sometimes I will put the belt on loose during my warmup sets just to get it sweaty and warm. It helps the belt fit better when you need it.

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    Originally Posted by JC480 View Post
    I'm one of the few guys at my gym who does not wear a belt when lifting. I also do not squat 500 pounds or deadlift 700 or anything like that.

    One thing I noticed from all the guys I've talked to who wear a belt is that they have been wearing one since their H.S. or college days. I can't help but wonder if that has put a development weakness in their musculature that could hurt them in real life when they manipulated an object whose weight doesn't worry them...but they don't have their belt on.

    I started out squatting an olympic bar and adding weights very very slowly working on my form...ditto with deadlift and other compounds. The only back problem I've had is when I've pitched forward on a squat and I think I probably would have hurt myself even with a belt on.

    I also am unsure that the belt would do a huge amount of hernia prevention.

    Anyway, I apologize if this subject has been discussed ad nauseum. But I am curious about guys my own age...do you wear a belt and when did you start wearing a belt? any of your thoughts would be interesting to me as well.

    Personally, I believe that not wearing a belt has given me good core strength development. I am very comfortable lifting w/o a belt despite the admonishment of several guys at my gym. But then again, I've only been lifting for a few years and I'm still new compared to alot of you...disaster waiting to happen?
    I like to us a belt with Squats an over head press!!
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    Thanks for the info guys. Good to hear how other people view this.
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    Yippie, another belt thread!

    For starters, I squat 341 and deadlift 380 but I only use a belt for my heaviest sets of squats. I've squatted heavy without the belt and didn't feel like my life was as risk, but I still prefer the belt on the heavier sets. It's like a security blanket for me.

    I've tried several different belts during deadlifts, but none have felt comfortable so I go without. The one time I tried rack deads, I actually received an injury from wearing my belt. It shoved on my lowest rib hard enough that it stayed sore for months.

    I don't think that wearing a belt puts someone at risk of not developing their core. If you're squatting over 300 pounds (or 400, or 500), your core is probably pretty damn strong no matter what you wear when you squat.

    I've been thinking about a theory I have on lower back safety and squatting. When I first started squatting and up till I squatted 200, I messed up my lower back a time or two. I started deadlifting around that time and quickly got my deadlift to 300 about the time my squat got to 250. Since then, my deadlift has always been a good 40-50 lb heavier than my squat. I think that in addition to using proper form, the lower back conditioning I've received from deadlifting has helped to protect me more than a belt ever could.
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    To me a belt is for safety, plain and simple. Just having it there for heavy lifts helps to keep the back arched instead of bending.
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    Originally Posted by reamade View Post
    I am one of those guys that loves to squat and dead lift. I use the belt the same way that I use straps. I do all my lighter sets without.
    X2... saved me some typing.
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    Originally Posted by ntrllftr View Post
    X2... saved me some typing.
    Glad I could help a brother out.

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    I have used a belt and threw my back out doing squats. Now I hardly ever use it, unless I am doing extremely heavy squats or dl's. Have not had another injury since. To each his own.
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    Originally Posted by Kiknskreem View Post
    A belt used properly helps you get stronger and may help keep you safe.
    Originally Posted by reamade View Post
    I am one of those guys that loves to squat and dead lift. I use the belt the same way that I use straps. I do all my lighter sets without (at least without it tight) to develop good core strength and only use it on the heavy sets. Sometimes I will put the belt on loose during my warmup sets just to get it sweaty and warm. It helps the belt fit better when you need it.

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    Originally Posted by Reid147 View Post
    I like to us a belt with Squats an over head press!!
    Originally Posted by ALBPM View Post
    To me a belt is for safety, plain and simple. Just having it there for heavy lifts helps to keep the back arched instead of bending.
    Originally Posted by ntrllftr View Post
    X2... saved me some typing.
    Originally Posted by wulf88 View Post
    I have used a belt and threw my back out doing squats. Now I hardly ever use it, unless I am doing extremely heavy squats or dl's. Have not had another injury since. To each his own.
    Pretty obvious answer to this. If you feel you need one, then use it. If you feel you don't, then don't. There a a ton of GOOD reasons to use it like any tool of a trade, yet if you are in a safe position, and you are the only one to determine that, then don't. BIG YAWN.......
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    A good weight lifting belt is not a fashion accessory.. That is what BLACK SOCKS are for... Ha.. anyway

    At 45 and lifting for only 2 years.. I find two good reasons to wear a belt..

    1. Reduce Stress: belts help to reduce stress in exercises where the spinal erectors are involved in holding your lower back straight. Think of exercises like the deadlift or squats.

    2. Prevent Hyperextension: By helping you to keep your lower back straight, a weight belt can keep you from bending too far back and going into hyperextension on exercises such as the overhead press.
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    Originally Posted by black_socks View Post
    A good weight lifting belt is not a fashion accessory.. That is what BLACK SOCKS are for... Ha.. anyway

    At 45 and lifting for only 2 years.. I find two good reasons to wear a belt..

    1. Reduce Stress: belts help to reduce stress in exercises where the spinal erectors are involved in holding your lower back straight. Think of exercises like the deadlift or squats.

    2. Prevent Hyperextension: By helping you to keep your lower back straight, a weight belt can keep you from bending too far back and going into hyperextension on exercises such as the overhead press.
    This is what I noticed today.

    I've been lifting without a belt for a while, and for whatever reason just bought one. Lifting straps were bought in the same purchase, and like the belt I never used them, but thought maybe, just maybe.

    So today I'm under the bar for my squats, and I had been using the belt the past couple leg days, and I didn't have the belt on for my warmup set. My form felt odd. Check the foot placement, over the heels and going straight up, chest up first, bar on the shelf. So I add some weight, and then I noticed my butt was going out just a hair too far and I was having to make a conscious correction to ensure my chest went up first. Rack the bar, put on the belt, just snug, and do another set at the same weight and that conscious correction wasn't there. Now, I wasn't at my working weight yet, so I had a little thinking room, and it occurred to me that the belt was like an amplification device. It makes changes in form more noticeable by transferring the flex over a broad area of skin. I could liken it to the bridle on a horse, a small movement by the rider's hands on the reins is all the signal needed for the horse to understand it's rider's wishes. You feel the small change in form quickly because of a change in the perceived pressure from the belt and correct it almost without processing the need to.

    Or at least so it seems to me, and I can grok that.
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  20. #20
    Registered User Khodiak's Avatar
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    I only wear a belt now due to a spinal fusion 4 years ago (nasty motocross accident). I use a belt for squats only. I do use knee wraps as well especially when going heavy 315 lbs plus (heavy for me anyhoos).
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    Bodybuilder For Life! Pure-Natural's Avatar
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    I only wear a belt when squating heavy (315lbs +); use wrist wraps for shrugs only & gloves always.
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  22. #22
    Registered User 4simac's Avatar
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    Haven't there been a bunch of studies on the use of belts as being of no value? Or is that just the kind guys at Costco and Home Depot wear? I have no idea about heavy lifting as I am not near that level. I just don't understand what the belt is supposed to do. I've heard people say it keeps your kidneys in place. That makes no sense to me. Is there an epidemic of people with migrating organs from lifting?
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  23. #23
    Registered User Stenn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by 4simac View Post
    I've heard people say it keeps your kidneys in place.
    I haven't heard that one before. That's a good one.

    The way I've heard it, the belt helps to stabilize the core. When you do a heavy exercise that works the back, you tighten your core before you lift so that your vertabrae maintain their natural, neutral arch (the lumbar arch). The belt helps you to tighten your core and helps you to keep it tight throughout the lift. Some will say that a belt also helps to remind the lifter to keep their core tight.

    Now, when I say "core" I mean the abs and muscles of the lower back. A lot of folks think that the belt is just for supporting the back and that's why most belts are wide in the back and narrow in the front. A belt that supports both the abs and the back is the same width all the way around and that's the kind of belt I use. Before a heavy rep I take a deep breath, tighten my core, and with the belt on the sensation is like I'm a tightly packed sausage with the belt pressing in from all directions.

    Now, one might ask, "Why can't you keep your core tight and stable without a belt?" and that's how threads like this one are born.
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    Registered User johnnyironboard's Avatar
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    I've worn one for long periods and not worn one for long periods. I prefer to wear one.
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    Registered User rocketman44's Avatar
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    I recently was on vacation and did not take my belt along for workouts at the resort fitness center. I seemed to do fine without it, and now I wear it only for certain things like decline presses to support because I'm kind of stretched out during that move.
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  26. #26
    Workin' Stabilizers Skidmarx's Avatar
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    Back in the 80's/90's everyone at the gym wore a belt. Nowadays not so much.
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