PR Friday

“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”
–Douglas Adams

Like every Friday, it is PR Friday. Post this week’s PR’s to the comments. Remember that you can PR in lifting, eating, and gaining bodyweight. I clean and jerked 155 kg for the first time on Monday and squatted 465x5x3 on Tuesday. My program needs to be carefully tweaked because I am wandering into the realm of a slight overtraining. I snatched 120 (previous meet PR) Thursday on a very tired back and set of shoulders. Those body parts didn’t have any steam, and I missed 125 twice.


Yesterday I talked about what goes on physiologically when a belt is worn during lifting. This process is very different than wearing other gear, like a squat suit or knee wraps. The suit and/or wraps aid the movement of a particular joint while the belt improves the stability and strength of the trunk. This is a very important distinction, and is the reason why powerlifting is separated into raw and equipped divisions and/or federations.

Before addressing other belt related topics, I want to make a bold, clarifying statement. If your goal is to get stronger (and you have been lifting longer than two months) and you refuse to wear a belt, you are a fucking idiot. I’m sorry I’m not sorry. Look, not only are the abdominals working harder, but the pressure is increased within the trunk which stabilizes and strengthens the spine. This makes you stronger, and it is usable strength. The first time someone wears their belt in a serious training session (especially when pressing and deadlifting), their abs get sore. Not to mention the work sets are handled easier than without the belt. The belt is not something that you use to “bust out of a training rut”, it is a tool that you use to get stronger, and if you aren’t wearing one, then you aren’t serious about your training.

What kind of belt should I use?
When you are experienced wearing belts, you will probably use a different belt depending on the exercise. However, in general, your belt will have the same width all the way around since the most important articulation with your body happens in the front on the abdominals. Most of us will use belts that are four inches wide, yet some of you with short torsos will need to have three inch belts (you will know this if the four inch belt is jabbing into your lower rib(s)). If a belt is more narrow in the front than in the back, then (as Rippetoe famously said in his book) the manufacturers don’t know how the belt works.

If you are in the market for a belt, then check out EliteFTS. I don’t have any kind of monetary relationship with EliteFTS (shit, I don’t get paid to type anything), nor have I ever met Dave Tate or Jim Wendler (although I hear they are good guys from close friends), but they have really fucking good products, especially the belts.

I use one of the Retro Series Power Belts that Rip gave to me. I love it. Every PR I have had in the squat and press occurred with that belt around my waist (notables are pressing 205x5x5, squatting 500 for 5 singles, squatting 485×5, and squatting 465x5x3 in the linear progression). The Retro Series is 10 to 11 mm thick, which is thinner than the Power Belt that is between 12 and 13 mm. Both style of belts are completely customizable; length, thickness (depending on the series), one or two prongs, and color. All of the belts are high quality suede with smooth roller buckles — I couldn’t comprehend any other brand of belt being better than the EFS line.

The only drawback with these belts (including the Retro series), is that they may be a bit thick for some people to get in a good pulling position with. In such a case, you could always use a thinner leather belt (pictured below). A suede or leather belt is probably too big to use for the Olympic lifts and we (at the WFAC) like to use regular velcro belts (pictured below). The brand is Harbinger and they are sold here in town at Academy Sports.

L to R: suede, velcro, and leather belts

L to R: suede, velcro, and leather belts

Pictured above are the belts that I will use depending on what lift I am doing. The suede belt is and EFS Retro Series suede belt that I squat and press in. The one in the middle is the velcro belt that I use when I clean and jerk (it’s actually Rip’s belt), and the one on the right is one of the many leather belts hanging on the wall in the gym that I will use when I am pulling (rack pull, haltings, deadlift etc.).

How do I learn how to wear a belt and where is it worn?
A belt should be worn on the last few warm-up sets before the work set(s), and it is best to learn how to wear one while squatting first. If it is thrown on at the work set, the body won’t be used to it being there and it will probably feel a bit weird (especially if it is your first time). When you are on your last couple warm-up sets, put the belt on so that it sits above your anterior superior iliac spine, or your hip bone. The top of the belt should not press against the last rib; I have seen someone bust up their costal cartilage wearing it here.

Tighten the belt so that it is moderately tight. Note that this does not read “as tight as you can fucking make it”. Just tight enough so that your abs press into it a bit. Do the warm-up set as normal. If the belt is sliding around during the set, then it is probably too loose. When you get to your work set, you may opt to keep it at the same hole, or you may want to tighten it by one more hole. The main consideration is that you don’t want to wear the belt too tight. If you have to “squeeze up” into the belt, then it is too tight and this will be counter-productive for the set. However, you may have to use an external object to help you tighten the belt appropriately; we use the edge of our power racks to hold the end of the belt against with our hands as we turn our bodies to the side — most people do this.

The more you wear the belt, the more you understand how tight you need it to be. If you slip your fingers into the crease between the upper portion of the belt and your abdominals, then it should be snug. If you can’t even get your fingers in the crease, then it is probably too tight. I keep trying to clarify belt tightness because I know some of you are going to freak out and not know if you have the belt on correctly. Trust me, you’ll figure it out over time. As a general rule, a more experienced belt wearer can wear their belt tighter, and they will intuitively know what is “too tight”.

The belt is worn in the same place for the squat and press, yet the deadlift may dictate a different placement. Rip likes to wear a thinner belt (like the leather one pictured above) lower in the front and higher in the back. I will have AC and Chris comment on how they like to wear their belts since Chris can deadlift over 600 and AC pulled 569 at his meet a few weeks ago. When I clean and jerk, I wear the velcro belt in the same way that I wear the suede belt for squatting/pressing. I can’t wear a belt when I snatch, because the bar routinely hits the belt after I hit my belly in the jump (I have a pretty vertical bar path). I have worn the velcro belt when bench pressing before (because of mild to moderate lumbar issues because of a car accident, it helped my back when I arched it while benching). Typically the belt is tightened when lying down instead of standing up before bench pressing.

I have seen some people (via the interweb) wear their belt higher when pulling. For example, Konstantinovs, who is stronger than three week old piss, wears his belt at the halfway point between his sternum and hip bones. Get experienced with the belt before experimenting like this, because he is obviously a professional.

I have x existing injury, should I be wearing a belt?
Uh, yes. If you have any kind of low back injuries, then you should have started wearing a belt yesterday. The worst case scenario would be a spondylolisthesis. People with this ordeal have the potential to be crippled by back extensions or reverse hypers, but can and should squat and deadlift in order to keep the structures of their spine intact. They absolutely should be wearing a belt since we learned yesterday how it supports and strengthens the spine. I have worked with many people that have had bulging discs (I think I have one in my neck) in their lumbar spine, and it would behoove these people to get their low back strong by squatting and deadlifting — with a belt of course.

Most of this information is available in Starting Strength. I learned how to wear a belt from Rip, and have taught many people to do so based on that lesson as well as my experiences. I am sure that there may be some differences in powerlifting or strongman competitions, and I admit that I am inexperienced in these matters. However, for general strength training purposes, the belt will be worn as described here.

Here is a video of Konstantinovs pulling 939 completely raw. Ask him if he could have gotten that strong without wearing a belt.

114 thoughts on “PR Friday

  1. @Justin – LOL. Well… that”s what I said to the female next to me, who obviously heard the ripping noises.

    She knows I”m a goofball and she just shook her head as in: “You have no cure”. It only added to the sillines of the whole picture…

  2. Diggin the site. Hoping to reach adult weight very soon

    Todays PR
    Reverse band Squat with avg bands

    Straight Squat 395×1
    DL 515×1

    Standing Strict Press


  3. No PRs this week, laying low and prepping for my meet tomorrow.

    On the subject of belts, I didn”t notice any discussion on the type of closures. Typically, you”ll find either one prong, two prongs, or a lever attachment. This is typically a personal preference, but for those who are new to belts, it”s worth discussing. Lever belts have their followers, but I found an almost universal opinion among legit PLers that the single prong is “best.” Double prongs can be a hassle and levers can pinch, especially during deads. So keep that in mind.

    Another point to make is that IPF associated PL organizations will dictate a maximum of 13mm thickness and 10cm width. Consider this when purchasing cheaper off shore belts, where a 4″ width with loose tolerances can end up wider than 10cm. Yes, judges can be anal enough to disallow this. Remember, these are the same guys that won”t let you wear synthetic underwear beneath your singlet.

    As with most purchases, I would hope that 70sBig guys would opt for a USA-made belt versus an import. Ask your dealer about the country of origin. Most 30-40 dollar belts are imported. Spend wisely here – a belt can last a LONG time.

    As for vendors, my recent experience:
    Inzer – HORRID customer service. Can”t recommend, unfortunately. At one point I spoke with a guy that barely knew what belts were.
    ATP – half decent customer service at best. There are MUCH better options. At one point I couldn”t reach them via phone for 5 days. They never returned email or phone messages. Their website is not a reliable indicator of what they have in stock (nor is their Amazon store).
    Elite – good service and pretty knowledgeable phone reps (and of course, VERY knowledgeable people in house in general), but they don”t stock any belts. Order yours at least a month out.
    Titan – by far the best company I spoke with, and they are a TX-based company (Corpus). I will use them again for sure. They overnighted my belt to me even though I was calling late in the day, and really took their time with me on the phone, especially compared to the other companies.

    Another note – don”t just blindly order a belt online. Call these places and talk to a human, as a 70sBig man should always opt to do.

    Sorry for the long response. This is what happens when I have days off from the gym.

  4. PR”s this week:

    Press: 110×6
    Deadlift: 305×5
    Bench: 185×5

    Doing my squat workout tonight or tomorrow, it”s been a long stressful week with little sleep due to finals coming up.

  5. bodyweight about 177
    Pretty stoked about these espesually since i havent gotten any sleep. This is a welcome 2 days of rest. :-)

  6. No PR today but had PRs for squat, press and dead of 315, 137 and 370.

    Today was my first day on Texas method with a variation since I deadlifted tuesday (my fault). So instead of 3×5 dead I did back extensions.

    Since I failed to get 315 and was feeling overtrained I switched to Texas and started with 285 x 5 x 5 for Squat and holy fuck was I seein jesus on that 25th rep. Crazy what a difference the 4th and 5th set made.

    Will have a light day sunday and then a 1-RM Tuesday for intensity day. I just want a PR measurement for 1RM and after that the intensity days will be speed sets…

    Oh and Konstantinovs is my hero

  7. Just finished up Weak 3 of the CFWF program. Here are my #s for the week:

    BW 186#
    Squat 285x5x3
    Press 150x5x3
    Clean 160x3x5
    Bench 225x5x3
    Dead 355x5x1

    12/2 PR on Annie 7:49

    Today beat the resident METCON stud on the .com WOD by :04 seconds, got an 8:06. Pretty stoked about that.

    It sounds to me like you are trying to say that by getting stronger, you are getting more conditioned.

    And how tall are you?


  8. Been doing SS for 6 months now. Two setbacks. One for an injury and the second for a broken barbell.

    Started trying to get to Adult Male weight on Tuesday. BW 173 – 178 in 4 days.

    PR”s this week:
    BP 185 x 5 x 3
    Press 140 x 5 x 3
    Squat 235 x 5 x 3
    Deadlift 285 x 5

    Thanks for the website Justin.

  9. Hit a big age PR today (24th bday)
    Also BW is up to 271.5
    Monday I deadlifted 455×14
    Today I squatted 395×14, which is not quite a PR, but I”ll take it considering its my birthday and I fell asleep in the gym.
    Also, I have an APT belt and love it. Took a couple months to break in, but its perfect now. I like APT”s stuff because they”re fellow Virginians.

  10. I wear the suede belt when I squat and press and it sits in the same spot for both. I was previously using a velcro belt when deadlifting, but I am currently switching to a suede belt when doing all my pulling movements (deads,rack pulls, haltings). When I bench I wear the velcro belt and I always tighten the belt when laying down SO I CAN GET 70S BIG

    Just so everyone knows, this is my training partner Chris. He can deadlift well over 600 so I had him chime in here.

    Oh, and he weighs 275 now.


  11. BW- 233.2
    S – 395x5x3
    BP- 280x3x3
    P – 190x5x3
    DL- 407x5x1
    PC- 210x3x5

    I have an Inzer lever belt, her name is Precious, and I love her.



  12. Justin,
    I””m 5””10″

    And yes, the strength seems to be doing the trick. I <3 this program.

    Good. Keep gaining weight and getting stronger. 185 is light, even for little conditioning workouts.


  13. Missed the “Friday” Deadline.

    Only PR this week was in the Box Squat. Just did
    385 X 9.


    Elite Fitness Systems also sells Spud Inc. Belts
    There is the normal deadlift belt which is bright yellow

    It”s like the Valeo belt except it looks more badass and the material it”s made out of is very strong but still pliable so it won”t dig into you.

    There”s also the 3 ply Deadlift belt

    which is sort of a cross between a power belt and the other belt. Dave Tate says he loves this belt and uses it for everything but squatting.

  14. If you”ve ever worked in a big warehouse and they”ve had those giant forklifts that go up like 40 feet, and the operators on those forklifts wear harnesses, that”s the material that the spud deadlift belt is made out of.

    Also, does anyone know much about the Rehband Girdle Belt?

    It”s that thing you see a lot of strongmen competitors wearing under their belt.

  15. Saturday is my friday so PR”s for now based on 5rep max.

    Squat 90kg.
    Press 52.5 Kg.
    DL 110kg.

    Weight. 194Lbs/88kg.

    Not spectacular but I”m happy that my progression continues un-interrupted.

  16. 5””9
    BW up to 201 this morning, Im sure it will drop at least 1 lb after I take a dump, but thats my heaviest so far, up 3 lbs from about 3 weeks ago

    Although my weight is up this is the 3rd week in a row my pressing movements have stalled on fridays intensity day on the Texas Method. I””ve been completing the monday workouts fine but not getting my heavy 5×1 completed. First bench, then the press, and I stalled on the bench again last night.

    Should I deload? Maybe drop a set on monday? Im thinking I definately need to eat more in conjunction with whatever else I do…

    PR””d on Squats: 240x5x3.
    Barely made the first two sets, realized I wasnt driving my hips back on the descent. Fixed that on my last set and felt stronger.

    Before you consider anything that Penn, a good Samaritan, says in his reply to you, you should explain why you are doing 3 sets of 5 at 240 for the volume day. Texas Method calls for 5 sets of 5.

    This is also a very light amount of weight to call yourself an intermediate (even though weight is mutually exclusive from training adaptation). I question whether you went through the linear progression properly. There are too many variables to tell, but I am interested in seeing your squat.


  17. Finally started full training, injuries healed, but hands ripped to pieces from rowing, which made dead lifting extra fun.
    6″2, 189 lbs
    Works sets to start off
    Squats 1 x 20 @ 77.5 kg/170 lbs
    Bench 3 x 5 @ 65 kg/143 lbs
    Dead lift 3 x 5 @ 90 kg/198 lbs
    Press 3 x 5 @ 32.5 kg/72 lbs

  18. 6”3 200+ (not sure of current weight)

    Squat: 300x3x5 (really pumped that I”m moving into the 300s on my squat!)
    Deadlift: 320x1x5
    Bench: 200x3x5
    Press: 150x3x4 (got stuck on this on and was only able to get out 4 reps on each set)
    P.Clean: 160x5x3 (form is really breaking down…thinking about dropping the weight back down and focusing on form, maybe even training the full clean)

  19. @ BloodAndOi

    If you”re making progress on your “Volume” days but you”re not making progress on your “Intensity” days, maybe you”re placing too tall of an order for yourself on the Intensity days.

    For example, someone can”t Squat 225 for 3 sets of 5 and expect to squat 315 for a set of 5 on your intensity day.

    I doubt you are overtrained if you are continuing to advance on your Volume workouts. And if you”re making good progress in your volume workouts, that would suggest that your recovery (food, sleep, etc) is adequate.

    So I think it sounds like you just aren”t picking reasonable numbers for your intensity day. Consider what you can do for 3×5 as roughly 75% of your max. Figure out your estimated max. Now, what”s 85% of that number? Take that, get under it, and just fucking go.

    It”s also possible that you have been working up to a 5RM too often. It might be time to switch to a 3RM.

    And how long has it been since your last deload? If it”s been over 6 weeks, even if you feel great, I think it”s time for a true “down” week with weights under 70 percent.

  20. I”m a little late to the game, but yesterday whilst battling a fever and a pesky sinus infection I hit:

    Squat 335x3x3
    Press 165x3x5
    Deadlift 395x1x5

    I”m convinced the Squats broke my fever and in turn cured me of my ailment.

  21. @Justin

    The reason I””m I did 3×5 on the squat is because I couldnt squat for a while because I hurt my hip from a combination of not staying back on my heels and keeping my low back tight. After I started squatting again I started really light to work on from and linearly progressed my way back up to where I am now.

    Meanwhile I stalled on my bench and press a couple times so I started using the Texas Method with those lifts. Was that a mistake?

    You know your shit so maybe I didnt use linear progression well enough to move onto that. Here are my current lifts.

    Squat: 240x5x3 (5 lb increases on m and f, 80% on wed)

    Dead: 245x5x1 ( Same problem as squat, been using 10 lb increases now since I started dl””ing again.)

    Bench: 200x5x1 or 185x5x5 (whent for 205 on friday but only got it up for 3)

    Press: 135x5x1 or 120x5x5 (whent for 140 last friday but only got it up for 3 and push pressed the last 2)

    Chins: 6,5,5 (Been stuck for a while)

    Did you ever have a reset on the bench and press? Did you micro load?

    How tall are you, how much do you weigh, and how old are you?

    You should probably e-mail me.


  22. I squatted for the first time with a belt today. It felt great, I won”t squat without one again.

    @BloodAndOi, I did the same thing you did for the squats, but for a different reason. I stalled on my press too.

    I worked the press linearly from 135-145 with 5lb increments, and stalled at 150 3×5 (got 5 reps, then 3 reps on the second set). It is weird, I don”t feel sore the days after I press at all. Do I need to microload already?

  23. Justin, timely post. I figured out the hard way that the 4″ belt is too wide. It digs into my ribs when wearing it above the hip bone; got injured this week squatting. From what you described in this post and looking at at anatomy charts, it appears to be a costal cartilage injury. I read in Rip””s Q&A about rehabbing injured muscle bellies; does this apply here? What exercise should I use in rehabbing this injury?

    Great website– thanks for the help!

    No, because you did not injure a muscle belly. You will just have to rest a few days, wrap the injury with ace bandage, and start slow. Do NOT re-injure the damn thing. I am e-mailing you to make sure that you see this.


  24. @ BloodAndOi

    Yeah, oops. Forgot that the Texas Method was 5X5.

    Knocking 3X5 up to a 5X5 will change a lot of things.
    Most importantly, if you””””re doing 3X5 on Monday, and you””””re using weights that only allow you to grind out 3 sets of 5, then you””””ll be using considerably heavier weights than you would be using if you were using weights appropriate for 5X5.

    Obviously, as Justin already said, go from 3X5 to 5X5. But also, don””””t take the deload.

  25. Pr on squats today

    I narrowed my stance to shoulder width like Justin recommended and I felt much more comfortable squatting today. Thanks for the tips Justin, and I just ordered my first belt yesterday from EFS, I”m looking forward to it.

  26. Had a great week, 201.5# @ 5”11 not the most ive weighed but close.

    Squat:315x5x3 (pr)
    Bench:210x5x3 (Starting to stall)
    press:165x5x3 (pr)

    diet was a little weak been really busy this week shooting for weight PR of 205 this friday.

  27. Solid article. Quick question though:

    I”m planning on buying an EliteFTS belt, however they require 3 weeks lead time to custom build it. Since I”m leaving the country soon for vacation, I wanted to get a belt just for temporary use. Would a Harbinger belt, like the one you use for deadlifting, be OK for squatting, etc. at least temporarily?

  28. Hey, shamefully skinny guy here, and I””m looking to remedy that. I had a question on the sizing of the belt. The article says “put the belt on so that it sits above your anterior superior iliac spine, or your hip bone. The top of the belt should not press against the last rib.”

    Now, I might either be mis-reading that, or I””m a freak of nature. There is literally less than two inches between the top of my hip bone and the bottom of my floating rip. Am I crazy? My terrible Google-based anatomy knowledge indicates that the iliac spine is the bony loop that sticks out when skinny girls wear low-rise jeans, right? If that””s the case, I””m definitely a genetic freak. My guess is that I””m on crack and missing something…

    Easy friend. Some people have short torsos. You will need a 3 inch wide belt, maybe less if your deformity is drastic. Please don’t reproduce. Ever.


  29. Pingback: » Equip for the Quest – Shoes Part 2

  30. Jacob and anyone else concerned about buying a product made in the good ol” USA:

    Check out Handmade in NC. I picked up the athlete belt for $54 and it is very well put together.


  31. Pingback: CrossFit-Norge » Løftebelte

  32. I hope Justin can still reply to this, but from SS I actually understood that most people would not need a belt in their entire training career. For this reason I decided not to wear one. Yet common sense tells me that I should, since every trainer or decent athlete uses one.

    Assuming you actually read Starting Strength you would see that it definitely does not insinuate what it is that you assumed, and is actually the exact opposite.


  33. If you”re looking to buy a belt, listen in: I got the “athlete belt” from Best Belt, and it”s quite a piece of work. This belt will still be there sitting pretty when you”ve blown out your 20th pair of jeans. At $54 with shipping included, it was cheaper than almost everything I found.

    Plus the customer service is great, with owner Dean Best making sure he knows exactly what you want. At some places, no one will pick up the phone.

    The belt itself is extremely sturdy and has really helped in gaining poundage on the squat. The leather is thick and strong, the buckle shiny and rock solid. It”s 12.75mm thick, despite the owner promising a 10mm one, but you get used to it. Plus it”s made in the USA.

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