You ask Jujimufu, and Jujimufu responds. Here are some questions I get through the contact form on this website and directly through e-mail, and here are my responses for everybody to see!
Question from Patrick Meyer about Weight lifting belts:
Should I get a weight belt? Even when I’m very, very careful, it seems as though lower back fatigue is an anatomical component of me lifting.
I used to be brainwashed by the “NO WEIGHT BELT” fanatics. But these days I like weight belts! You’re probably correct, since everyone has different physical characteristic and development, (and technique of course), everybody experiences fatigue from exercises uniquely. While I don’t believe you, specifically, are anatomically disinclined, (your problem is probably correctable by progressive training: IE, your support muscles are weak), if you want to try a weight belt I say go for it. I’d suggest getting a Valeo. This is the product I’ve been using for two years: VCL6 Valeo Classic Weightlifting Belt 6″ I got a size medium, that’s the size you would get too. It was under $30. I got mine from muscledriverusa.com.
Personally, I don’t like using the weight belt for its intended purpose. For front squat I’ve strained a rib on two separate occasions with a belt. A back rib and a front rib. I heard a “POP” sound the time the front rib went. I was in discomfort for a week. I think the belt may have been too tight. So I’m very cautious now about weight belts. People seem to think I’m special for not deadlifting with a belt, but actually I don’t use one because it messes me up! I think it throws my weight forward and so it actually fucks up my form. It makes the exercise somewhat awkward for me. Antoine Vaillant’s friend Mike Johnson told me he experiences the same problem. To be fair, I think getting the most out of the weight lifting belt for increasing the load you can manage is probably similar to the experience of getting the most out of any other piece of powerlifting equipment: your body has to “learn” how to use it before it can get the most out of it. For example, a bench shirt significantly increases the weight you can do on bench press… Only if you know how to use the shirt and have been training in it for awhile.
So why do I like weight belts? What I like them for, personally, is #1 they keep my long workout tops tucked in corset fashion so I look super V taper, so it’s cosmetic. VANITY! #2 it keeps my back warm. Combine with a little Capzasin cream or Tiger Balm on the back before putting the belt on and voila, good blood flow. #3 While I don’t personally like weight belts for squat and deadlift variations, I do like it for chest presses and bent over rows.
So there, get a weight lifting belt and enjoy! You probably won’t get dependent on it like a lot of internet peoples think.
** btw, congratulations! Your question and this answer are the first for my “Ask Juji” series for Acrobolix. 🙂