training with a belt
Every gym has that guy who wears his seatbelt throughout his workout. He says it's for back support, but it's actually to maintain a beer belly while doing max reps on his bicep curls. I shouldn't say that, but that's not what a belt is for.
So let's actually discuss the advantages of weightlifting with and without a belt, and the real purpose of a belt, not being fixed in a beer sausage.
A belt is a tool that increases intra-abdominal pressure by providing support to the core muscles as the abdominal wall expands. Stabilization belts explain why most lifters can lift more than nothing.
When to wear a weight belt
They are primarily used for squats, deadlifts, and overhead lifts, where athletes breathe deeply for greater support. However, the belt also makes it easier to keep the spine in a neutral position.
How to wear a weight belt
Honestly, it depends on personal preference. Make sure the waistband is centered (or almost) with your belly button, and that's it. How tight is up to you.
Belting is like a football player wearing pads. Sure, offseason wide receivers will practice non-contact training without pads, but when does the season begin? Here comes the mat. why is that?
Since pads are used in games, it is important to get used to wearing them.
In weightlifting, we can wear belts in official competitions, so when the intensity of competition day is approaching, it is time to wear them.
things to consider
First, despite what your high school gym teacher may have told you, a belt alone won't protect your back. First, you need to know how to create proper braces.
Second, you need a proper belt. If you want one that you can take to a weightlifting competition, you'll need a leather that's about 10mm or 13mm thick. But I also recommend these for general use.
OK, so belt training mimics a game and you know when to wear it. But when should a belt not be used? Let's discuss the benefits of beltless strength training.
For powerlifters, beltless training will find its greatest application in the squat and deadlift, since our goal in both lifts is to limit lumbar extension, and a belt helps a lot.
I still think that belts have a place in the training for those of you who don't want to compete, but just to improve your fitness or gain muscle mass, albeit to a lesser extent.
Maintain core and leg strength balance
It's also going to be very difficult to grow your legs with a weight that your quads, hamstrings, and glutes can easily handle but an unbelted core can't.
Don't skip your core training and wear a belt full time, but the disparity between leg strength and core strength without a belt makes the squat and deadlift nearly impossible to perform progressive overload and therefore greatly Limit your progress.
A belt isn't nearly as important without the intent of the race, but it still allows you to use heavier weights, which puts more stress on the legs, and therefore more strength and size over time.
Force correct support
Belts are great, but sometimes they can make it difficult for a trainer to spot incorrect support, or make it difficult for you to tell the difference between good and poor support.
Conversely, beltless training is nearly impossible to lift any decent load without good support. That's why we often teach beginners to lift weights without a belt, then add a belt after they've proven they understand proper support techniques.
That's why we don't recommend using the belt for lighter warm-up sets, as it allows you to check your support before the bar is too heavy.
I also don't recommend using a belt for 99% of accessory work as there is hardly enough load to warrant its use. Going back to my previous analogy, this is similar to a football player jogging on a treadmill with full padding.
Even if the core is properly loaded during assist movements, this is a good opportunity to practice support.
A lot of times, you might want to chase the numbers trying to beat old PRs rather than forcing an early uninstall. The self-limiting nature of beltless training forces you to step outside of this, as you may have a smaller frame of reference for beltless training and have no way of comparing their numbers to past blocks.
Even if you've done a lot of beltless training before, PR is usually not that important to you, so it's less easy to get off the plan. Beltless training also allows you to train movements with a higher frequency or larger volume, since the less load associated with it makes it easier to recover from it.
This makes beltless training an excellent way for lifters who train one lift multiple times a week in order to have an "easier day" still in effect.
These considerations make beltless training a great offseason option for lifters looking to improve support or increase work capacity without having to use insanely high and unsustainable loads.
The risks of training without a belt vary between competitive and non-competitive lifters. For those who race, the biggest risk factor comes from not using the belt in the weeks leading up to the race. Remember: you don't want any surprises on meet day. If you plan to wear a belt at a meeting, make sure you spend a few weeks familiarizing yourself with the belt you plan to use.