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Should You Wear a Lifting Belt for Deadlifts? What the Experts Say

trainer deadlifting with a lifting belt

Lifting belts are one of the most talked-about pieces of fitness equipment. They provide support for your spine, core, and lower back, enabling you to lift heavier weights, particularly during deadlifts. Some lifters use them for every barbell exercise, while others believe they offer a false sense of security. So, is a belt necessary for deadlifting? Let’s find out!

Should You Wear a Belt When You Deadlift? 

A lifting belt offers comprehensive support for your midsection, acting as a constant reminder to keep your form and technique in check. By boosting intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) and stabilizing your spine,weightlifting belts can significantly improve both the performance and safety of your deadlifts.

But should youwear a lifting belt when you deadlift?? Not necessarily! Before strapping on a belt, it's crucial to master the movement itself. This includes knowing when to lift, identifying sticking points, and understanding the proper times to inhale and exhale.

This principle applies to all exercises. Grasping these fundamentals ensures you get the most out of your training with a belt. Even if you've perfected powerlifting techniques, it's essential to keep practicing and advancing your submaximal deadlifts without any additional support.

When Should You Start Deadlifting with a Belt? 

As a general guideline, it's best to lift without a belt when using submaximal weights, typically around eighty percent of your one-rep max (1RM). Butwhen exactly should you start using a belt for deadlifts? The answer varies based on personal records and individual strength levels.

In high-rep training, you lift less weight than in one repetition. Warming up, technique practice and muscle growth are common uses of this training. Many folks deadlift without a belt during these sessions. As you lift greater weights near your limit, weightlifting belts become more frequent. Because lifting greater weights demands more force, your alignment and technique may suffer. External support from the belt helps preserve appropriate form and limit injury risk, especially in the lower back.

It's important to note that while weightlifting belts can be beneficial for lifting heavier weights, they can also increase blood pressure, particularly during intense lifting sessions. For individuals with underlying cardiovascular issues, this increase in blood pressure could be a concern. Therefore, it's essential to consider your health status and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns before using a weightlifting belt during your workouts.

Who Needs to Use a Belt When Doing Deadlifts? 

If you're serious about pushing your deadlifts to their maximum potential, incorporating a weightlifting belt into your routine can be beneficial. However, it's crucial to use the belt strategically for intense training sessions aimed at maximizing gains, rather than for casual workouts. 

When choosing a weightlifting belt, opt for models approved byInternational Powerlifting Federation (IPF). This organization typically permits belts that are up to 4 inches wide and 13 millimeters thick, ensuring you use equipment that meets standard safety and performance guidelines.

Related:Do Lifting Belts Make You Stronger? 

The Advantages of Deadlifting With a Belt

Lifting belts come with theirpros and cons. Here are some of the advantages that come with using a belt for deadlifts. 

Reduced Spine Stress

Among deadlift-related injuries, the hips and lower back are most commonly affected. A frequent issue is a herniated disc, which occurs when intervertebral discs are displaced due to heavy lifting. We’ve previously discussed how to alleviate compression pressure on the lumbar region. Using belts helps to minimize spinal shrinkage that would otherwise occur.


This also enhances biomechanics. When lifting the bar, your legs should provide most of the power, while your core muscles stabilize the movement. Numerous studies indicate that lifting belts can significantly boost explosive power. This means you can perform more repetitions with less effort and in a shorter time. Increased speed does not compromise joint range of motion or overall lifting technique.

Secure and Significant Improvements 

Maintaining a stable and neutral spine is crucial for safely performing deadlifts. Research indicates that the spine can experience forces up to 18 kN at 75-100% of your one-rep max, while the injury threshold is below 10 kN. This means your back is at significant risk. What role does a belt play in deadlifts? It enhances lumbar spine stability and increases trunk stiffness in all directions.


By mitigating these limitations, you can lift heavier weights and for longer durations.  Belts also reduce the level of perceived exertion, allowing you to increase both the load and the number of repetitions due to slower fatigue.

Breaking PRs and Plateaus

Weightlifting plateaus can be physical, mental, or a combination of both. Staying at the same level for an extended period can erode your self-esteem and confidence. Eventually, the fear of failure might be the main obstacle you face. When deciding whether to use a belt for deadlifting, two crucial considerations are injury prevention and performance enhancement.


Another key factor is the boost in motivation. Securing a belt around your waist provides tangible support that can enhance your confidence and focus. This added stability is why advanced athletes continually achieve new personal records. However, beginners should allow themselves time to build foundational strength before relying on belts for progressive overload.


Related:Should You Squat Without a Lifting Belt?

The Advantages of Deadlifting Without a Belt

Have you noticed that a belt's benefits are most apparent when lifting heavy weights? Taking a break from using it during your regular deadlifts can also offer several advantages.

Freedom of Movement

One significant difference you'll notice when transitioning from belted tobeltless deadlift training is the increased freedom of movement. Without a belt, you can more easily position yourself deeper into the bar, enhancing your movement patterns in the bottom phase. However, the primary benefit is comfort. Many lifters struggle to find an optimal position that avoids pinching and discomfort from the belt. Deadlifting without a belt eliminates these issues, allowing you to focus on refining your technique and strengthening your core.


Robust Trunk Muscles

You might have heard that using a belt during training leads to a weaker core. However, there is no evidence supporting the idea that back belts weaken trunk muscles. They might influence the rate at which these muscles develop. When you deadlift without a belt, your muscles must contract and generate intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) without additional support. Therefore, it's recommended to do most of your training without a belt. This approach prepares you for better performance in daily activities and sports.

Improved Technique

When relying on a belt for constant form and safety cues, it's easy to become complacent. It's important to remember that the belt serves as a tool to enhance core engagement and generate intra-abdominal pressure. Without this external support, you're left to rely solely on your technique. This means prioritizing proper breathing and bracing techniques while also ensuring your lats and hamstrings are properly engaged before initiating the lift.

How Should Your Belt Be Worn During Deadlifts? 

Deadlifting, whether with or without a belt, each has its advantages. However, is it safe to deadlift without a belt? Yes, with certain considerations. While lifting heavier weights, a belt can provide added safety and support during the exercise. To optimize your performance and achieve personal records safely, follow these steps.

1. Belt Placement

Once you've acquired a lifting belt, finding the optimal position may require some experimentation. Many prefer wearing it between the hipbone and the ribcage, though this placement can feel awkward during bends or twists. Adjusting the belt slightly higher can effectively support the upper back, while positioning it lower towards the hips is another option to consider.

2. Belt Size

Belts and pants do not necessarily correspond in size. To find the rightweightlifting belt size, measure your torso around the navel and add two inches to that measurement. This adjusted number should guide your choice when selecting a belt model. When consulting the size chart, if you find yourself between sizes, it's advisable to contact the manufacturer for guidance on whether to opt for a smaller or larger size.

3. Belt Tightness

The concern about ending up with a loose belt is understandable. However, some individuals tend to overcompensate by sucking in their stomachs when determining the size. It's important to strike a balance by securing the belt snugly enough to support your abs and lower back while still allowing for deep breathing. The optimal tightness can vary depending on the exercise and its specific variation.

Our Recommended Deadlifting Belt

The TUFF 10mm Leather Double Prong Weightlifting Belt is a 4-inch belt and 10mm thickness. It is crafted for enhanced flexibility compared to conventional manufactured leather belts. This feature ensures effortless wear and removal. Designed to conform to the natural curves of your lower back, it offers robust lumbar support, promoting comfort throughout your training sessions. There are 8 sizes in total 21”-58.5” appropriate for athletes of varying sizes and fitness abilities.

Related:10mm vs. 13mm Belt

Conclusion

Thepurpose of a lifting belt is to help you stabilize your core and prevent hyperextension during dynamic lifts. But it isn’t necessary for every rep. If you’re doing deadlifts, try to determine the goals of your workout so that you can decide whether or not to use a belt.

Remember, a weightlifting belt is most effective when used in moderation. Make sure to balance the number of deadlifts you do with and without a belt to see the best results. 

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