What are you views on wearing a belt during (training) squats and deadlifts? I used to wear it during my last 1-2 work sets. I now only wear a belt when I get to mid 400s. I found the belt was hampering my technique and causing me to emphasize my lower back during the movement. Since throwing the belt off, I am able to maintain a more vertical torso in both lifts and maintain proper mechanics. Thoughts?
It would depend on who exactly we’re referring to. For now, let’s narrow it down and assume we’re talking about powerlifters rather than other athletes or individuals with goals other than solely increasing their 1RM.
For a beginner, I’d advise ditching the belt until a certain level of strength is attained. While I don’t believe a magical number exists on what signifies this level of strength, I am of the opinion it wouldn’t be based solely on a number but more so on how much the lifter in question has improved and how long these improvements took to obtain signifying how close they have become to their genetic potential. More or less I’m referring to their “training age”. If we’re referring to intermediate/advanced lifters, generally speaking (when squatting) I’d throw on the belt for anything over 65%. This would include the heavier warmup set’s (i.e. for a 475 lb. squatter approx. 315 lbs.). Reason being, aside from the belt acting as an ergogenic aid (essentially allowing you squat more weight) I believe squat mechanics are slightly different when wearing one and if you are a powerlifter that will be wearing one on the platform it is important that you “practice like you play”. Keep in mind there are times where completely beltless training works well. For example I may have certain lifters train beltless at the beginning of a new training or during their “off-season” which in powerlifting would refer to a period of time with no meet in sight.
For the deadlift I’d say the same rules as above apply although I don’t feel mechanics are necessarily impacted as much opposed to the squat with the belt on versus off. There may be an exception to this due to various anthropometric differences in population or access bodyfat in the abdominal region, which may make getting into position while wearing the belt difficult. With that being said I would never suggest doing secondary movements being used to build the deadlift with a belt. These movements include RDL’s and Stiff Legged Deadlifts. They are designed to strengthen the back amongst other areas that will help build the deadlift and I feel doing them with a belt may hamper potential gains defeating the purpose of the exercise.