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 Post subject: The Belt
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 11:54 am 
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So, here's something I figured I would tee up, since my last thread got so many outstanding responses.

What are people's thoughts on belts?

I personally do not currently squat or deadlift with a belt. I have done so in the past for squat only, but I found that when the weight got heavy, I would invariably hurt myself if I wore a belt. I would get down in the hole, and something would go wrong (the squat wouldn't "feel right", the belt would throw me out of my squat groove) and I would come up crooked and end up hurt.

I have made pretty solid progress on my squat without a belt (should hit 350 for 5 next week), but you rarely seem to see anyone squatting more than 315 without a belt. Is this one of those things I am just going to have to learn how to use properly to maintain progress? Or will I be able to maintain the beltless progress through 405?


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 Post subject: Re: The Belt
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 2:21 pm 
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This has been discussed in the past, likely several times. Generally there is a benefit when training close to your max or preparing for competition. Relying on a belt for routine training is likely counter-productive. Heavy is relative. What is heavy for some is light for others so the absolute weight isn't a good guide.

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 Post subject: The Belt
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 4:22 pm 
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Thanks stuward!


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 Post subject: Re: The Belt
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 9:42 pm 
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I would say that 95% of the people have no idea what the point of a belt is and even less know how to use it properly. I believe a belt is absolutely necessary if you are going to squat big weight. Big weight is relative. I participated in a study this past fall where a raw squat was used. I worked up to over 500. Lately I've been putting the belt on at 315 because I've had some issues.

So it kind of goes back to what you want out of your squat. If it is all about big numbers, I'd use the belt earlier in you progression. You have to practice you technique - which includes your form with a belt. If the squat is just about getting overall stronger or bigger, using a belt is much less critical. FWIW, I only use a belt when squatting and deadlifting.

stu's advice is very good, but I wanted to give you a slightly different opinion.

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 Post subject: Re: The Belt
PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 1:02 am 
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Big weight is relative... Surely true, but from a beginners perspective, where does it begin?

Is it a bit like the question about (overhand or mixed) grip and/or using straps (only in your highest working set) when doing deadlifts? For beginners it would probably be advisable to lift only what you can hold in your hands but as you proceed to intermediate level you want to train your posterior chain with deadlifts, not your grip?

So can we use some "strength or performance standards" to answer this question?


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 Post subject: Re: The Belt
PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 5:50 am 
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You missed my point Crow (primarily because it was poorly made).

1. Most people don't know how to use a belt so most people don't get any benefit from using a belt. Consequently there is no need for a belt.

2. It is my belief that unless your goal is to move big weight, there isn't much need for a belt.

3. If your goal is to move big weight (yes it is all relative, but my recommendation remains the same)' you need to use a belt a lot because you have to practice your form and the belt does factor in.

So if jack's goal isn't to, let's say, be a powerlifter, then I'd say lift without a belt and the strength and size gains will come. If his goal is to squat as heavy as he can, he needs to learn to use the belt.

You wanted a recommendation. I think you commonly see something like use a belt above 80% of your max. But is that 80% of your raw max or belted max? If you are basing your percentages on your belted max, you are going to hurt yourself when you are doing raw work based on that max.

Did I clear it up?

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 Post subject: Re: The Belt
PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 6:27 am 
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I`d rather think my "question" wasn`t clear, because I understood what stuward has written ("... Generally there is a benefit when training close to your max or preparing for competition. Relying on a belt for routine training is likely counter-productive. ...") and what you added. (Nevertheless, thanks for the additional information.)

I mean... after all, the recommendation to (learn to) use a belt when working above 80% intensity (for example) would immediately come into play for a beginner doing Starting Strength. And I think that wouldn`t be meant by it. ;) So I tried to point out where you would draw a line like saying when you reached intermediate level it is worth or advisable to use a belt.

I hope I could clear it up?


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 Post subject: Re: The Belt
PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 8:56 am 
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Belt and or neoprene waist wrap is good for going heavy. Particularly when you reach the point where your leg press is greatly outpacing your squat. Any heavy deadlifts for sure. Neoprene knee wraps may be a good idea as well.

Straps are a similar issue. At first you need to stay away from them to get good grip strength. Later you will need them for deadlifts and barbell shrugs. Human anatomy just doesn't allow for muscles in the hand and forearm to keep pace with traps and posterior chain.

The common theme is that all of these items are not needed by beginners, but will eventually become useful if you learn how to use them.


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 Post subject: Re: The Belt
PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 9:35 am 
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@jackthestrat:

Do you notice any difference in your "squat groove" coming up out of the hole when you squat with and without a belt at lower weights?

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 Post subject: The Belt
PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 10:31 am 
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Stephen Johnson wrote:
@jackthestrat:

Do you notice any difference in your "squat groove" coming up out of the hole when you squat with and without a belt at lower weights?


Regardless of the weight, I feel a big difference at the exact point when I change from going down to going up at the bottom of the hole when wearing a belt. It's a big squishy feeling in my lower back, like I'm relaxed, even though I'm valsava-ing and pushing against the belt at my natural waist. As a result, I tend to come forward into my toes, I feel like the bar path is more like a ")" than an "I" and there's no "bar pop" or explosivity at the top with a belt. To be honest with you, it feels unsafe.
I think it might be because when I don't wear a belt, my "core" center (where I breathe into, if that makes sense) feels lower, maybe two inches below my belly button. With a belt on it is at my belly button.

I have a very short torso, so wearing the belt over the spot that "I breathe into" normally when belt less is not possible. The belt cuts deep into my skin and bruises a lot. It's very painful.

Without a belt the direction change feels very powerful, snappier, and when I hit the top of the squat the plates will rattle. It's a much, much stronger sensation.


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 Post subject: Re: The Belt
PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 12:23 pm 
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@jackthestrat:

Sounds like integrating a lifting belt into your training will slow you down while you head for your squat goal of four plates.

Most people view belts as a performance aid rather than a safety device. If the belt isn't helping your performance immediately, you'll have to ask yourself if the (supposed) added safety of lifting with a belt worth spending the time finding and then using the correct belt

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 Post subject: Re: The Belt
PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 12:27 pm 
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Don't use the belt. It is plain and simple. If you don't need it don't use it.

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 Post subject: Re: The Belt
PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 6:04 pm 
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All good advice on here, just wanted to add my 2c. Might even be useful!

Hoose, Stu, and Ironman have all said you should probably use a belt if you're trying to move significant weight. I believe what Crow is getting at, perhaps as well as the original poster, is what is "significant"?

Hoose comes at it a bit from the side by saying that if your goal is to move heavy weight, use a belt. I think the way that this might apply to both Crow and Jackthestrat is to say "if you're going to push your strength envelope as would be done in a competition environment, you will best be served by using a belt." In this, it doesnt matter what your max is, or your weight-class, or your age. If you are pushing your envelope the same way that would be done in competition, a belt is suggested. And if you are going to use a belt for these peri-maximal lifts... you need to practice with it at lower percentages.

It doesnt matter if you are actually competing, just if you would be pushing as if you were.

My goal is to move heavy weight, which I do. I don't use a belt or wraps because I never push myself to competition levels (I do however use wrist straps, which I couldn't live without). If it feels too heavy...I just put it down. My reasoning is that if my core cant support the load I'm trying to put on it, doesn't matter if my legs (or back) can take the weight. My issues have been chronicled on this page enough for those that care to dig for it, but I've never had "use a belt" as a suggestion for solving issue with pain, weakness, or dysfunction. Could I squat and DL more weight if I used a belt? Almost certainly. And I think that's what Hoosegow is trying to get across: You can lift more with a properly utilized belt than without. But unless you need that extra bit that the belt can allow... better off staying with a weight your existing training level can support.


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 Post subject: Re: The Belt
PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 11:52 pm 
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Thanks @ Ironman and Khronos8

Good additional information for me...


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 Post subject: The Belt
PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 1:15 pm 
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Agree. Thanks everyone.


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