Do You Need a Belt To Deadlift Safely?

Back in the day many of the so-called strength training novices started using weightlifting belts during squats and deadlifts under the influence of Mark Rippetoe and his puppies that later on branched out and developed the 70sbig fetish. According to those individuals the weightlifting belt gives you ”an anchor to push against with your abs” during deadlifts, squats, overhead presses and other barbell exercises. The idea is that when you use a belt your are actually developing a stronger core, and if you build up your ”belted” squat while keeping your warm-ups belt free, you will reach higher numbers faster.

Here’s what what actually happens in the real world. While it’s probably true that a belt allows you to flex your abs more intensely, it’s also a fact that pretty much all people lift more with a belt than without one for other reasons too.

weightlifting-belt-1

It’s simple – the belt stabilizes your entire waist and acts as an artificial ligament. This is especially true for those large powerlifting belts made out of thick leather.


You can think of belts as wrist wraps for your waist/lumber area. Most people cannot bench as much weight without wrist wraps. Why? Because the stress on the wrists is too much and when you put on 2 meters of thick material around the joint you add another layer of protection and stability increases greatly. Suddenly, the weight feels lighter. The belt does the same thing for your waist – it thickens it artificially.

What’s the problem? The problem is that the ligaments are not getting stronger and the belt becomes a crutch. I don’t care how sore your abs are from pushing against the stupid belt. The ligaments and obliques actually works less. It’s like squatting with light knee wraps. The stress on the joint is reduced and as a result the connective tissue does not adapt to the stimulus and remains weaker.

Question is, why would you do that to yourself unless you are injured? It makes more sense to allow the area to develop naturally and get stronger instead of introducing a belt to the equation. I don’t know what’s happening right now, but back in the day many people part of the startingstrength community were using belts for 1.5 BW squats without having a prior injury of any kind. Their reasoning was: ”you get stronger with a belt faster”. It’s nonsense. You don’t get stronger with a belt. You are only able to lift more weight, which is why pretty much 99% of all powerlifters use this equipment. Those who don’t take great pride in lifting without a belt (example: Konstantīns Konstantinovs).

Of course, I don’t expect the brainwashed permabulkers to agree with me because they are sucked deep into the low bar cult.

How can you recognize people who are part of the low bar cult?

Nice question.

It’s simple. You just have to look for a group of fat guys occupying the squat rack in the gym for a few hours in order to do a weird form of squats resembling good mornings. Most of the time those individuals are also wearing T-shirts with the following messages:

”Mammals drink milk. You are a mammal.”

”Join the fight against muscle atrophy” (Note: This one is properly translated in permabulk language as ”Join the fatso camp.”)

”Grown Males > 200 lbs”

…and many more.

Usually, when the long squat session is over those guys move to the bench press. During all sets their hairy ”manly” permabulking based bellies are sticking out.

After the whole workout is complete and all sets are recorded into the log or special app, the strength masters go for a ”real man” lunch – five McDonald’s XXL burgers.

Note: They throw the buns away because carbs make you fat, and they want to ”recomp” (burn fat while building muscle mass).

At the end, the answer to the question is – you don’t need a stupid belt to deadlift unless you have a medical reason to use it. If you are healthy, it’s better to just get stronger without wraps, belts, whistles and other ”equipment”. Honestly, I think many people are just looking for an excuse to use belts to ”improve their lifts”, and guys like Rippetoe give them ”scientific” permission to do so. My question is why? Does it really matter whether you squat 300 lbs with a belt and 285 without one? You ain’t breaking any records anyway. Why not just get stronger naturally instead of pushing yourself to the limit for the sake of some arbitrary numbers that mean absolutely nothing at the end of day? I know this may be hard to accept when you are deep into the barbell addiction sea, but the truth is that the few extra pounds a belt provides do not change your life.

3 comments

  1. phaggot

    Dude whenever you say “but the truth is” a puppy dies. You don’t know shit.
    If you want to build natural strength you have to lift naked, and without a barbell. That is natural! Whats your total bro?

  2. Jordan

    I dont disagree that a belt acts a separate form of “tissue”. For me, lifting at heavier weights put a lot of strain on my body and the job I work is taxing on me as is, so the extra protection is needed. Doing beltless work I do find to beneficial to help correct the issues your addressing and perhaps some extra abdominal work.

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