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Weight belt: Safety measure or crutch?

nknis8556nknis8556 Posts: 20Member, Premium Member Posts: 20Member, Premium Member
I'm not even sure this is a debate, or if the two are mutually exclusive, but I've been using a weight belt as a safety measure for my higher weight squats and deadlifts. I've been under the impression that it works to protect the lower back when performing these lifts, and that not using one could lead to some fairly major back issues. Also, recently, I've heard that weight belts are more of a crutch, and one should not become reliant on them for heavier lifts.

I honestly don't know much more than the bro-science behind some of this, so any light that could be shed, I'd appreciate.

Some background, if it helps: I only perform front squats in the 5-10 rep range (back squats put more pressure on my spine than I like). For deadlifts, I'll go up in weight to a 2-3 rep range, but as soon as I feel my back engaging a bit more than I'd like, I drop it. By no means am I a powerlifter, nor ever will I be one.

No history of back issues, and I'd like to keep it that way.

Replies

  • CahgetsfitCahgetsfit Posts: 1,719Member Member Posts: 1,719Member Member
    I use a belt for heavier lifts too. I think it's important to learn how to brace though, and not just use the belt as the "crutch".

    I will sometimes put the belt on looser to make sure I am bracing properly and not losing the vacuum (belt stays still, I've kept the brace).

    I don't know the scientific or the bro science behind any of this, but I certainly FEEL better using the belt for heavier lifts - might be psychological, I don't know.

    I am also not a powerlifter and don't intend to become one, but I look to that style for the 3 main lifts. That being said - i've never used my belt on the bench.

    And I don't do like those people who use the belt for everything in the gym.
  • watts6151watts6151 Posts: 441Member, Premium Member Posts: 441Member, Premium Member
  • ChieflrgChieflrg Posts: 7,834Member Member Posts: 7,834Member Member
    If a person chooses to use a belt, they still have to perform the Valsalva maneuver for it to be useful.

    A weight belt is a tool, not magic.

    One needs to train intelligently with proper load management regardless if a belt is strapped or not.

    The absence of a belt is NOT dangerous and/or won't lead to major back issues.

    Nor is it a crutch for heavy or any other lift if utilized correctly to achieve the correct dosage of stress.

    If you don't plan on powerlifting why are you training in near maximal weight for deadlifts?



  • CipherZeroCipherZero Posts: 1,341Member Member Posts: 1,341Member Member
    Belts, combined with a proper valsalva, allow you to get higher intra-abdominal pressure, which keeps everything aligned the way it's supposed to.

    They don't prevent hernias. They prevent back issues by (potentially) allowing you to lift more weight, making your back musculature stronger.
  • nknis8556nknis8556 Posts: 20Member, Premium Member Posts: 20Member, Premium Member
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    If a person chooses to use a belt, they still have to perform the Valsalva maneuver for it to be useful.


    If you don't plan on powerlifting why are you training in near maximal weight for deadlifts?



    Bad advice, I guess? By your response, I'm guessing it won't do me much good.

    Thanks for the comments, all--much appreciated.
  • CahgetsfitCahgetsfit Posts: 1,719Member Member Posts: 1,719Member Member
    nknis8556 wrote: »
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    If a person chooses to use a belt, they still have to perform the Valsalva maneuver for it to be useful.


    If you don't plan on powerlifting why are you training in near maximal weight for deadlifts?



    Bad advice, I guess? By your response, I'm guessing it won't do me much good.

    Thanks for the comments, all--much appreciated.

    Meh - I don't plan to powerlift but I like to challenge myself sometimes and see how heavy I can get with my lifts. I don't do it "properly" like following a proper power program or whatever, but every so often when I have a "free" gym day (as in not following my "bro" plan) I will just play around doing stuff and that usually includes deadlifts purely because I love them and I want to see how heavy I can go.

    So I don't see the problem in training near maximal weight... why is it a problem?
  • MotorsheenMotorsheen Posts: 14,249Member Member Posts: 14,249Member Member
    I suppose it's just a matter of personal preference .... *shrug

    I've worn one in the past (the distant past). For Olympic Lifts and Power Lifting, sure thing.
    For everyday at the gym... just not for me.
    Although, I'm no stranger to either KT or good ol' fashioned athletic tape.

    Just don't wear a belt for exercises where you are laying or sitting down, right?

    If you're comfortable wearing one, why not? Have at it; best of luck!





    ( and make sure that cute lil' belt matches your gloves and handbag! B) .... sorry, I couldn't help myself. )


    .
  • magnusthenerdmagnusthenerd Posts: 659Member Member Posts: 659Member Member
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    If you don't plan on powerlifting why are you training in near maximal weight for deadlifts?
    Frankly, given the way deadlifts tax most people's bodies, I'd have more questions about someone doing them at high reps with nothing near maximal weight. It is also useful to do triples on occasion at least to predict 1RM and estimating 1RM with more than a triple is going to quickly become inaccurate the higher it is. Knowing one's 1RM is usually a cornerstone of setting up a scheme for weight, reps, and sets.
    watts6151 wrote: »

    ^This. The cliffs: using a belt is only going to increase the activation of the core while giving better lifts that won't be limited by core strength. There's little downside to using a belt. I've heard Greg on his podcast say he maybe sees a point in occasionally doing beltless lifts just because it will keep one's motor patterns in tune for when one actually does any practical lifting of things in real life where obviously a belt won't be involved.
  • ChieflrgChieflrg Posts: 7,834Member Member Posts: 7,834Member Member
    Cahgetsfit wrote: »
    nknis8556 wrote: »
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    If a person chooses to use a belt, they still have to perform the Valsalva maneuver for it to be useful.


    If you don't plan on powerlifting why are you training in near maximal weight for deadlifts?



    Bad advice, I guess? By your response, I'm guessing it won't do me much good.

    Thanks for the comments, all--much appreciated.


    So I don't see the problem in training near maximal weight... why is it a problem?
    A 2-3 rep range will do little to nothing for strength especially if your near failure.

    It's more practice for skill of handling near maximal weight for competing.
    Frankly, given the way deadlifts tax most people's bodies, I'd have more questions about someone doing them at high reps with nothing near maximal weight. It is also useful to do triples on occasion at least to predict 1RM and estimating 1RM with more than a triple is going to quickly become inaccurate the higher it is. Knowing one's 1RM is usually a cornerstone of setting up a scheme for weight, reps, and sets.
    Taxing of the body will happen depending of the individual's current adaptation, load management, and recovery. I personally deadlift 2-3 times a week at many reps ranges depending on my block. At age 50 I haven't issues with recovery because of proper load management. It's simply the frequency I require to drive progress.

    High rep or low reps doesn't mean more taxing on it's own when factoring the exertion and individual fitness of movement and the ability to recover. If one pulls 495x10 that is only 62% of e1RM that will be less fatiguing and taxing than pulling 685×3 at 86%.

    True when we drift farther away from a triple inaccuracy is more than likely to occur. Though for someone who doesn't plan to compete ever, the need to be more accurate is lessened. It simply doesn't matter as long as you are progressing long term. That can be done by a generic estimate and though the actual number may be off a tad, progress can still be verified if using the same estimate source.




  • sgt1372sgt1372 Posts: 3,118Member Member Posts: 3,118Member Member
    For me, it's a little bit of both - for safety and a crutch.

    I'm an old guy (68). I'm certainly not a "powerlifter" but when I was on my game just a few yrs ago, I was lifting at an advanced/elite level for men my age & size.

    I only wear a belt when doing DLs and SQTs. I injured my lower back when doing SQTs w/o a belt and feel the need to use one whenever doing SQTs and most other lifts involving my lower back whether I actually need it or not. In that sense, it's a crutch for me.

    However, I actually do feel a "twinge" in my lower back when doing DLs/SQTs w/o a belt which goes away when I use a belt and proper breathing technique. So, in this sense, I do believe that using the belt is truly a safety tool for me.

    Does it help me to lift more wt? I doubt it but it does help me to meet the challenge of lifting whatever wt I am attempting more confidently and safely.
    edited August 13
  • nknis8556nknis8556 Posts: 20Member, Premium Member Posts: 20Member, Premium Member

    watts6151 wrote: »

    Great read--thanks!



  • PhirrgusPhirrgus Posts: 1,837Member Member Posts: 1,837Member Member
    Cahgetsfit wrote: »
    nknis8556 wrote: »
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    If a person chooses to use a belt, they still have to perform the Valsalva maneuver for it to be useful.


    If you don't plan on powerlifting why are you training in near maximal weight for deadlifts?



    Bad advice, I guess? By your response, I'm guessing it won't do me much good.

    Thanks for the comments, all--much appreciated.

    Meh - I don't plan to powerlift but I like to challenge myself sometimes and see how heavy I can get with my lifts. I don't do it "properly" like following a proper power program or whatever, but every so often when I have a "free" gym day (as in not following my "bro" plan) I will just play around doing stuff and that usually includes deadlifts purely because I love them and I want to see how heavy I can go.

    So I don't see the problem in training near maximal weight... why is it a problem?

    Agreed. I work days in near maximal weight and it feels great even though I don't train with that weight. Saying it's not worth it unless competing is ridiculous imo.
  • CahgetsfitCahgetsfit Posts: 1,719Member Member Posts: 1,719Member Member
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    Cahgetsfit wrote: »
    nknis8556 wrote: »
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    If a person chooses to use a belt, they still have to perform the Valsalva maneuver for it to be useful.


    If you don't plan on powerlifting why are you training in near maximal weight for deadlifts?



    Bad advice, I guess? By your response, I'm guessing it won't do me much good.

    Thanks for the comments, all--much appreciated.


    So I don't see the problem in training near maximal weight... why is it a problem?
    A 2-3 rep range will do little to nothing for strength especially if your near failure.

    It's more practice for skill of handling near maximal weight for competing.
    Frankly, given the way deadlifts tax most people's bodies, I'd have more questions about someone doing them at high reps with nothing near maximal weight. It is also useful to do triples on occasion at least to predict 1RM and estimating 1RM with more than a triple is going to quickly become inaccurate the higher it is. Knowing one's 1RM is usually a cornerstone of setting up a scheme for weight, reps, and sets.
    Taxing of the body will happen depending of the individual's current adaptation, load management, and recovery. I personally deadlift 2-3 times a week at many reps ranges depending on my block. At age 50 I haven't issues with recovery because of proper load management. It's simply the frequency I require to drive progress.

    High rep or low reps doesn't mean more taxing on it's own when factoring the exertion and individual fitness of movement and the ability to recover. If one pulls 495x10 that is only 62% of e1RM that will be less fatiguing and taxing than pulling 685×3 at 86%.

    True when we drift farther away from a triple inaccuracy is more than likely to occur. Though for someone who doesn't plan to compete ever, the need to be more accurate is lessened. It simply doesn't matter as long as you are progressing long term. That can be done by a generic estimate and though the actual number may be off a tad, progress can still be verified if using the same estimate source.




    Well... I'm not caring much about strength - which was what I said. I'm not training to be the bestest powerliftah evah, but I still can't see why it's bad or wrong to occasionally when I feel like it pull as much weight as I can just for the hell of it.

    Of course still focusing on technique and so on, but meh, why is it bad? Just because I'm not going to get stronger during that particular session?

    edited August 14
  • ChieflrgChieflrg Posts: 7,834Member Member Posts: 7,834Member Member
    Cahgetsfit wrote: »
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    Cahgetsfit wrote: »
    nknis8556 wrote: »
    Chieflrg wrote: »
    If a person chooses to use a belt, they still have to perform the Valsalva maneuver for it to be useful.


    If you don't plan on powerlifting why are you training in near maximal weight for deadlifts?



    Bad advice, I guess? By your response, I'm guessing it won't do me much good.

    Thanks for the comments, all--much appreciated.


    So I don't see the problem in training near maximal weight... why is it a problem?
    A 2-3 rep range will do little to nothing for strength especially if your near failure.

    It's more practice for skill of handling near maximal weight for competing.
    Frankly, given the way deadlifts tax most people's bodies, I'd have more questions about someone doing them at high reps with nothing near maximal weight. It is also useful to do triples on occasion at least to predict 1RM and estimating 1RM with more than a triple is going to quickly become inaccurate the higher it is. Knowing one's 1RM is usually a cornerstone of setting up a scheme for weight, reps, and sets.
    Taxing of the body will happen depending of the individual's current adaptation, load management, and recovery. I personally deadlift 2-3 times a week at many reps ranges depending on my block. At age 50 I haven't issues with recovery because of proper load management. It's simply the frequency I require to drive progress.

    High rep or low reps doesn't mean more taxing on it's own when factoring the exertion and individual fitness of movement and the ability to recover. If one pulls 495x10 that is only 62% of e1RM that will be less fatiguing and taxing than pulling 685×3 at 86%.

    True when we drift farther away from a triple inaccuracy is more than likely to occur. Though for someone who doesn't plan to compete ever, the need to be more accurate is lessened. It simply doesn't matter as long as you are progressing long term. That can be done by a generic estimate and though the actual number may be off a tad, progress can still be verified if using the same estimate source.




    Well... I'm not caring much about strength - which was what I said. I'm not training to be the bestest powerliftah evah, but I still can't see why it's bad or wrong to occasionally when I feel like it pull as much weight as I can just for the hell of it.

    Of course still focusing on technique and so on, but meh, why is it bad? Just because I'm not going to get stronger during that particular session?
    You mistaken my words. It's not "bad", it's just not useful for long term strength or short term for that matter if your goal doesn't involve testing strength of a 1RM through competing. There are many ways to test strength once we define what "strength" is for our goal.

    If you want to go near maximal on exertion and that is your thing...no problems here other than...

    The first two bolded portions of your post is contradicting. Since pulling as much as possible is certainly caring about your "strength" measured by 1RM.

    Btw, pulling 1RM doesn't just effect one session like you suggest, it can takes many weeks to recover from.
    edited August 14
  • brocawkbrocawk Posts: 2Member, Premium Member Posts: 2Member, Premium Member
    I bought a belt after a bad back injury and haven't looked back in terms of training. Highly recommended
  • deputy_randolphdeputy_randolph Posts: 818Member Member Posts: 818Member Member
    I would call a belt a tool vs. a safety measure. You can still injure yourself if you aren't using it correctly. You can still injure yourself if you are using it correctly.

    I think it can become a crutch (especially if you start using it prematurely and don't learn how to properly breath/brace before becoming reliant on the belt).

    You definitely see the people at the gym wearing a flimsy belt while doing EVERYTHING...bicep curls...belt...ham curls...belt...walking on the treadmill...belt. If you're doing that, it's become a mental crutch.
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