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Thread: Lifting with belt - Physical edge or purely mental?

  1. #1
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    Lifting with belt - Physical edge or purely mental?

    For the entire time I have been lifting, I have always felt the belt gives me a huge advantage in my lifts. For instance, the other day on squats my top set was 335. I like to warm up without the belt...Well, when I unracked 225 it felt like the weight was going to crush me. Then I added the belt and got 335 for a solid 3 reps and the weight actually "felt" lighter.

    Then yesterday, my top deadlift set for the day was 365. I was warming up and again, even 225 and 275 felt pretty damn heavy. I thought there was no way I was going to hit 365...Then I strapped my belt on and hit 365 for 9 reps....I was like WTF? How did I do that? I felt like a cripple warming up.

    I have had back injuries my entire life since I was 16. Two herniated discs, fused lower vertebrae, and a stress fracture. I also have just come off a back injury last April that sidelined me for 3 months....could not bend over the sink or tie my shoes in that time. This leads me to believe this is *probably* just a mental hump I cannot get over. But that damn belt just makes me feel SO much more stable than when I am not using it....

    I really want to get to the point where I can lift the weight without a belt. I lift because I want strength for real life. Has anyone experienced something like this? If so, what did you do? I want to get that beast core....that "natural" belt. I am just not sure how to go about attaining that.

  2. #2
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    I only recently started using a belt (few months). I didn't see any carry over to added strength. My squat was the same with or without the belt. Of course all those years of squatting without a belt has probably toughened my core to the point where a belt wasn't adding much. I do like the feeling of support it gives though, so I still wear it on my top sets.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
    I only recently started using a belt (few months). I didn't see any carry over to added strength. My squat was the same with or without the belt. Of course all those years of squatting without a belt has probably toughened my core to the point where a belt wasn't adding much. I do like the feeling of support it gives though, so I still wear it on my top sets.
    Maybe I am just not used to the weight or something...

    I know on bench, there are times that I have to pull out heavy weight and hold it before my top set to give me a mental edge. If I am doing 255 that day and the weight has felt heavy warming up, I will sometimes yank out 285 or so and just hold it there to feel the weight. I am not sure if it actually helps my muscles fire better for the 255 set but it does give me more confidence.

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    Perhaps your condition makes a belt more necessary. I don't find a huge difference between wearing one and not wearing one, but on heavy sets a decent, thick belt feels really good. Over time, it allows me to lift more.

    I don't buy the "wearing belts doesn't build real-world strength" argument, but then in your case it sounds like you might have some issues.

    The best series of articles I've read on the use of belts are here: http://www.70sbig.com/?p=1989

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    Quote Originally Posted by J.C. View Post
    Perhaps your condition makes a belt more necessary. I don't find a huge difference between wearing one and not wearing one, but on heavy sets a decent, thick belt feels really good. Over time, it allows me to lift more.

    I don't buy the "wearing belts doesn't build real-world strength" argument, but then in your case it sounds like you might have some issues.

    The best series of articles I've read on the use of belts are here: http://www.70sbig.com/?p=1989
    Yeah, thats the other side of the coin. The fact that I have had so many back issues during my life could require me to lift with a belt. Thats why I am hoping someone who has experienced something similar will chime in.

    Thanks for the article...ill take a look.

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    Quote from that article:

    "if your goal is to get stronger (and you have been lifting longer than two months) and you refuse to wear a belt, you are a ****ing idiot."

    Made me feel a lot less like a pussy man, thank you for the article. I think what I will try is to really focus on going beltless until my very top set. Even yesterday, I was belting up on my 315 sets.

    I also read that Wendler does all of his lifting with a belt. I just get really impressed by those freaks who are squatting like 600 pounds with not one bit of gear on them..I wish I could do something like that, but I dont think it will ever happen with my conditions.
    Last edited by mchicia1; 09-22-2010 at 09:29 AM.

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    Ok man...I think I found my answer.

    "Uh, yes. If you have any kind of low back injuries, then you should have started wearing a belt yesterday. The worst case scenario would be a spondylolisthesis. People with this ordeal have the potential to be crippled by back extensions or reverse hypers, but can and should squat and deadlift in order to keep the structures of their spine intact."

    This is exactly what i was diagnosed with back in highschool. Guess a belt is required for me then. If I had not made this thread then J.C would have never linked that article and I would not have found this information. Great forum this is...one of the best on the internet.

    Thanks J.C.!

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    As I understand it weight belts increase intra-abdominal pressure, just like you do when you tighten your core. The belts give you extra core stability when you need it (ie maximal and near maximal loads) for extra safety. Most people should just use them when they hit their really heavy sets, so as not to keep their core from developing, but with your injuries and back condition using a belt with most or all of your sets does sound like a good idea.

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