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John Vanecko 10-20-2006 08:21 AM

I have been in Crossfit (and some "gymjones" workouts as well) for about 4 months now and man do i see a difference in almost every exercise i do. The only part of my body that i feel is still sub-par is my shoulders but i am working on that. at any rate, i was in the gym the other day watching some people do deadlifts and strapping on a tight weight belt doing about the same weight i have done (and they are taller and stronger looking than i). i remember back in high school always feeling the need for a weight belt while doing shoulder exercises as well as legs. however...i find it interesting that i have never seen anyone in crossfit or any other of the similar sites wearing belts while lifting...even on the "max" days....

my question is ...does this have more to do with the fact that crossfit does not really require max loads that often or is it that since crossfit deals heavily with form, that if you keep your form correct you won't have to worry too much about hurting your lower back (which is what i always was told was the need for the belt)? just curious what others had to say on this matter?


John Seiler 10-20-2006 10:14 AM

Hi John,

This comes up every now and again on ME Deadlift days. Some folks will tell you that belts are never used in Crossfit. That's not true. Don't believe it? Check out the Mike's Gym site. (Coach Mike Burgener is a Crossfit affiliate and is considered the premier authority on Oly lifting on this site.) When you get there check out the pictures of his son Casey and daughter Sage. In some of their pics, they're wearing belts. Oops. Fact is, there are some strong people on this site who use belts for heavy lifts. There are also some strong folks on this site who don't use belts.

My advice is this: don't use belts until you approach your max on really heavy lifts. Wearing one all the time will create a weak point. However, when you do approach your max and your max is getting up there, you may want to think about it.

I'll give you my personal example. I only use a belt on heavy deads. At 39 YOA and 185#, my dead PR is 465 -nothing to trumpet from the rooftops, but reasonably strong. I don't use a belt until I'm in the 400's; sometimes at 405, sometimes not. At the end of the day, it's my back and I feel most comfortable wearing a belt above those weights. Am I fostering a weak link? Perhaps, but I'm also creating a safer environment. I've seen some folks whose deads are barely out of the 200's assert belts should never be used. Maybe they'd feel differently if they were picking up heavier weights (of course, maybe not.)

When it's all said and done, John, it's your back and you only get one. Don't drink the kool-aid. Use your judgement and not your ego. Good luck.

Andy Shirley 10-20-2006 05:14 PM

I second the above.

Mike ODonnell 10-20-2006 07:47 PM

If you want a strong core...dont use belts

If you want a strong grip...dont use wraps

Unless you are approaching 500lbs in a DL....go without it. My PR is over 400, and my back is fine without belts and wraps...I guess I am old fashioned but I am not a professional powerlifter and want to work on my weak spots. Can I screw up my back? Sure...but a belt will not tell you of bad form...whereas no way I can go bad form without it....chaulk is all I use.

(Message edited by mike_od on October 20, 2006)

Nick Cummings 10-20-2006 09:34 PM

I vote against belts. If you are competing in powerlifting or olympic lifting go for it. Otherwise stay away from them. For me breakdown in form or inability to move the weight is failure in a max effort lift. For comparative purposes I am 195 and my last PR in DL ~3 months ago was 415. Nothing amazing, but I have put some time in on this lift. In a somewhat related note I saw a guy significantly larger than me deadlifting or rowing 225 with straps. To me this examplifies my position.

(Message edited by nick_cummings on October 20, 2006)

John Seiler 10-21-2006 10:05 AM

Mike is spot on about the form. If you choose to use a belt, don't do it to cover up bad form. Get your form down and don't vary from that form if you put a belt on.

Oh, I agree with Mike and Nick about not using straps. Get some chalk.

(Message edited by john_seiler on October 21, 2006)

Dan Colson 10-21-2006 11:55 AM

A belt will help with enormous weights and solid form. If this is where you are I would echo what Coach B said, don't put it on for the last set if you're maxing but be sure to use it as you approach your max so you are'nt surprised by the different feeling.

If you use straps you're kidding yourself on how much you can truly lift.

BTW I don't even own a belt, I can pull a little over 400.

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