Does squatting with a belt deliver better results? If you, too, are wondering whether to squat with or without a belt, this article will help.
Almost every powerlifter uses a belt while squatting. A weight belt helps the lifter to maximize performance and lift more weights effortlessly. In addition, as you increase weight while squatting, it puts pressure on your lower back, which makes the use of a weightlifting belt critical for support.
Now, if you are thinking about when to use a belt, and how is it going to influence your performance, you are at the right place.
In this article, we will discuss whether wearing a belt while squatting really helps. We will also let you know whether you can squat heavier with a belt, its benefits, drawbacks, etc. Keep reading to discover everything about wearing a belt while squatting.
Does Wearing a Belt while Squatting Help?
Yes, wearing belts while squatting helps, especially when you are working out with heavier weights.
Belts improve your biomechanics, helping you stay in the right posture throughout the workout. In addition, these support tools reduce the stress on your spine, preventing potential injuries.
So, wear a belt as soon as you switch to heavier weights, and make sure to use a belt of your size to avoid discomfort.
Can you Squat Heavier with a Belt?
Yes, you definitely squat heavier with a belt. Most powerlifters claim that they can lift 5 to 15% more weight while wearing a belt for squats.
Weightlifters claim that they feel stronger and have better intra-abdominal pressure while wearing a belt, which expands their weight-lifting capacity. On the other hand, they feel more muscle fibers in their core and legs get engaged during the workout, improving their performance.
3 Benefits of Squatting with a Belt
Now that we know that squatting with a belt improves your performance, let’s get into the details. Digging in deep, we will highlight the benefits of using a lifting belt.
Belts increase intra-abdominal pressure
When you wear a weight belt, it increases the intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) that provides support to the spine. Notably, intra-abdominal pressure is a person’s ability to create tension within their core, which helps them maintain proper positioning throughout a workout.
According to research, a belt increases this IAP by 30-40%, keeping the body in perfect position and preventing the risk of injuries.
Enhanced muscle activation in legs and core
According to studies, wearing a belt while squatting increases the percentage of spinal erectors (the muscles in your lower back), enhancing long-term training effectiveness.
Besides, the same research also indicates that wearing a squat belt also increases activation in your rectus abdominis (the six-pack muscles). This muscle activation in your core and lower back helps develop a stronger torso.
Increased muscle activation with increased intra-abdominal pressure decreases the risk of injury and improves performance.
Studies have also found that squatting with a belt creates greater quad and hamstring muscle activation. So, when you use a belt, more muscle fibers in your legs are activated, making you stronger and more muscular.
Belts increase lifting power
Research indicates that using a belt while lifting weights increases the lifting power of bodybuilders. We refer to the lifting power by looking at the strength and speed of the lifter. So, you can say the lifting power of a lifter has increased if he lifts heavier weights at the same speed or the same weights at a faster speed.
Various studies have found that the speed of weightlifting with a belt is more than non-belt lifters.
In yet another study it is revealed, that experienced weightlifters accomplish squat repetitions 6% faster with a belt.
2 Drawbacks of Squatting with a Belt
Although squatting with a belt is preferable for optimum spine support, there are a few drawbacks, too. Let’s understand these cons to know the in and out of wearing a belt while squatting.
High blood pressure
This is one of the most troublesome drawbacks associated with the use of belts during squatting. Lifting weights while wearing a belt increases intra-abdominal pressure, which could lead to increased blood pressure while lifting heavier weights.
Therefore, you must monitor even the slightest blood pressure irregularity, which might include headache, dizziness, blurry vision, etc.
Pain and pinching
Pain, pinching, and irritation are some of the most inevitable drawbacks of wearing a thick and broad leather belt. Some people also experience pinching of their skin while exercising with the belt. However, this can be avoided if you wear your belt properly, and take it off for a few minutes after the heavy set.
Most importantly, while buying a belt you should focus on getting one that fits your size perfectly. This will help with enhancing your comfort to a certain level.
Should I Wear a Belt When Squatting?
Yes, you should wear a belt while squatting as it maximizes your performance and help you lift more weight.
So, whether you should wear a belt or not while squatting also depends on your goals. If your goal is to maximize the amount of weight you lift, you should always wear a belt. On the other hand, if your goal is, to begin with, weightlifting and strengthening your core, then you should avoid wearing a belt.
The most important aspect to consider while wearing a belt is to check on your breathing so that you don’t end up feeling suffocated.
When would you Wear a Belt when Squatting?
Consider using a belt if you are using loads that are 80% or more of your current one rep max. You should wear a belt during squatting with a weight that’s 1 to 1.5 times your body weight.
At What Weight Should you Use a Belt for Squats?
The general rule to begin using a weightlifting belt while squatting is when you lift 1.5 times your body weight. Some weightlifters, especially beginners use belts even when they lift 1 time of their body weight.
For instance, if your body weight is 140 lbs, you will need a belt only if you squat 140 lbs on repetition.
For best results, you should consider consulting your trainer for the same. Notably, at the beginning of weight training, you should avoid using a belt, as this will prevent your core strengthening.
How Heavy Can you Squat Without a Belt?
You can lift as much as 80% of your one rep max without a belt. Beyond 80% of your one rep max, you’ll need a belt for support.
If you are a beginner or an intermediate in weightlifting, using a belt too early can take away your chance to learn to breathe and brace your abs. Therefore, you should ensure using a belt at the right time for optimum benefits.
Why Do Weightlifters Wear Belts
Can You Squat And Deadlift On The Same Day
Squatting Barefoot vs Shoes
Russian Squat Program
A lifting belt maximizes your squat performance and helps you build more muscles. And this is possible only when you brace this gym accessory properly. Belt squats are essential only when you switch to heavier loads as the belt helps you lift more weight for more reps.
On the other hand, performing beltless exercises is as important as it is to wear a belt with heavier loads. Your body should not over-rely on a belt, and therefore, you must warm up without a belt.
Coming to the most recommended type of belt, experts suggest that you should use a leather belt instead of nylon or any other material as a leather belt is more supportive comparatively.