It seems some guys think that I’m AGAINST lifting with belts. Well I’m not, I do all my heavy lifting with a belt as you can see by the cover of the 5×5 report.
Yet I’ve always recommended, and still recommend, to start StrongLifts 5×5 without a belt. Why? Because some guys believe that Squatting and Deadlifting with a belt will prevent lower back injuries or eliminate lower back pain.
Research by Dr Stuart McGill, author of The Ultimate Back and Fitness Performance Fitness Pro and professor of spine biomechanics, shows that if you injure yourself while wearing a belt, the injury will be more severe than if you weren’t wearing one. This does NOT mean you shouldn’t wear a belt, this just means that proper technique, optimal mobility, glute activation, etc are crucial.
Dr Stuart McGill’s research also clearly shows that you can lift more weight when using a belt. Nothing ground-breaking here, everybody knows that already. Belts increase abdominal pressure, which increases torso stability, and which thus allows you to lift more weight. On the Squat and Deadlift, introducing the use of a belt almost always adds at least 25lb to your max instantly.
Some guys believe wearing a belt won’t develop your abs. I strongly disagree. I wear a belt on all my heavy sets of Squats, Deadlifts, Rows, Presses and even on the Bench, yet my ab muscles are rock hard. Your abs will not remain weak, they’ll get stronger because you’re lifting a lot more weight. And this is NOT “fake” strength that you will gain by the way, your raw max will also skyrocket.
My advice remains that you start StrongLifts 5×5 without a belt, until you’ve built a good foundation of technique. Wearing a belt for a 110lb Squat is silly and unnecessary. Inside the 5×5 report (page 47) I wrote that it’s best to wait to wear a belt until you start stalling on your Squats and Deadlifts.
Recommendations I have – I own the Inzer Forever Belt 10mm single prong. This is not an affiliate link because they don’t have an affiliate program, but you can be sure I would have put one there otherwise. Many StrongLifts Members have the exact same belt. You can get cheaper, but you can’t get better. As the name implies, this Inzer belt lasts forever. Smart guys invest.