More Reasons For Wearing A Belt

In case some of you noobs haven’t seen it, I’ve talked extensively as to why you should wear a belt (part 1 and part 2).

To review, when you lift, you take a big breath. This large breath increases your intra-abdominal and thoracic pressure which acts as a pneumatic brace on the anterior portion of your spine. In other words, it helps support the spine, and because it has more support, it has more strength. This process is called the Vasalva Maneuver. The Vasalva Maneuver was something that Antonia Maria Vasalva created to test patency in the eustachian tubes of the ear. It was later used on U-boats, and has since been used by fighter pilots so that they can pull G’s as they shoot down bandits and destroy things. It’s also one of those things embedded in mammalian DNA; take a breath and hold it to exert lots of force.

Grunting while lifting achieves the same thing. The grunting provides a guttural expulsion of air through the throat against a closed glottis. Usually it is done through the sticking point, or the point where the most force is being applied because it temporarily increases the torso pressure because of the forced air against the closed glottis. But grunting should only be done on lifts over 400 pounds so that you don’t look like a jackass.

A properly tightened belt will augment all of this pressure build up. The tightness of the belt essentially decreases the volume of the lower torso just a little bit. We all know, or should know, that when the volume is decreased with the same amount of air in the container, the pressure will increase. But, more importantly than the change in volume is that the tightness forces and allows the abdominal muscles to contract harder into the belt. More contracting by the abdominal muscles with a smaller container means more pressure, thus more support, thus more strength. This is good for getting stronger, and as I’ve said before, if someone aims to get strong and doesn’t wear a belt, they are a fucking idiot.

Now, this whole “belt wearing” process has both acute and chronic affects. It irritates the shit out of me how fanboys around the internet will ask, “How many pounds/kilos will be added to my lifts if I wear a belt?” It doesn’t work quite like that. Yes, the acute affect of the belt is more pressure which leads to a stronger torso in that bout of lifting, but wearing a belt must be learned, and the belt is more useful for it’s chronic affect. Since the belt aids in strengthening the trunk, the squat/press/deadlift will be increased by wearing it over time. It will be increased so much that your new strength attained by wearing the belt will be higher than the strength you would have gained without the belt. Yes, you will get more strong more efficiently when wearing a belt.

It also has a chronic affect on the abdominals. Since they are contracting harder while tightened in a belt, they will increase in strength faster by doing so. The stronger abdominals make a stronger back as well as a stronger lift. This is also why it would be optimal to train with belts whenever possible. If you can’t wear a thick 13mm belt while deadlifting, find one that you can use. The picture below shows Chris deadlifting 625 last year wearing just a velcro belt. He has since switched to a thicker belt.

Chris deadlifts some time last year wearing a velcro belt

I wear a velcro belt when I clean and jerk heavy, but when I front squat I wear the same belt I back squat in because I want more tightness on my abdominals for the training adaptation. So, don’t think in terms of acute use out of wearing belts, because the chronic adaptation of wearing one over time while getting your abdominals stronger is the most useful reason to wear it.

Breakin in that stiff belt from 70s Big on Vimeo.

51 thoughts on “More Reasons For Wearing A Belt

  1. I’d say if you are a skinny boy and grunting or not grunting on a 225lb pr squat is the difference between success and failure, grunt away. and then go drink some milk.

    belts are fun. grunting on bicep curls and going “gggggggggggtsssssssssssss” makes you look like a tool

  2. got my belt a month ago from elite fts, really helped my lifting without a doubt.

    At WFAC, anyone there train for Strongman Comps? I know there is some material in PP regarding training, just wondering if anyone has any first hand experience with training/competing in Strongman events.

    There are a couple guys who are interested, but they are focusing on powerlifting right now.


  3. Hey Justin,

    you accidentally linked the same post twice at the beginning of today’s post.

    PS can’t wait to not be a jackass when I BS – I can’t help but make some odd noises on hard lifts, but the 4-plate barrier will be smashed through in the near future.

    Oops. Fixing now.


  4. What do you think the differences between a 13 mm over a 10 mm belt are? I use a 13 mm. It is very rigid, and works great. At the same time, I don’t think a 10 mm of similar quality would be any less rigid? The 13 mm adds a little weight to my torso, but I don’t that does any good or harm. Guess I need to try a 10 mm.
    Also, does anyone have experience adding holes to a belt? Does a drill work?

    The 13mm won’t give as much as the 10mm. I suspect that each individual will have to use both to get an understanding of the difference.


  5. I was convinced the first time this topic was brought up, and by Gary Gibson’s article on

    I got a 10mm from inzer and it does the trick for now.

  6. @mr blink

    Having been in many physics/chem labs, I know EXACTLY the type of person you’re dealing with. The kind of guy that needs a calculator, pencil, and paper to compute 10×10, right?

    My friend… sometimes you just have to learn to recognize when you’re dealing with a hopeless cause.

    Has he read this site?
    Maybe get him to check out some of the Zach posts or Gary Gibson posts or something.

  7. At ry-b and mr blink:

    When you see someone pulling heavy with what looks like double-overhand, just think,

    “WOW, double-overh… oh, no that’s hook grip.”

    Until proven otherwise.

  8. Todd – I’m about to have to drill out some new holes on my 13mm Titan belt. Let us know if you give it a shot. I’m on the fence about keeping this belt and drilling more holes, or just getting a 10mm that’s actually my (new) size.

  9. Jacob and Todd – Drilling holes should be absolutely fine. My friend ordered belt from a manufacturer here in the UK that make a One-Size-Fits-All single prong. Unfortunately, he was still too small. He phoned them up and they just took the stock belt and drilled 2 or 3 more holes in it (he was stupidly skinny). It’s been no problem at all.

    You could try searing the inside of the hole with a lighter or some hot rod (on purpose) to keep it together, if it looks like it’s going to be an issue.

  10. I love my Inzer 10mm single prong. Still trying to find a thin (still 4 inch width) leather one like WFAC has for deads though.

    did Big Chris get 700 yet?

    He’s 275. He was 285 at one point, but he dropped bodyfat and got a fuck load stronger since then. Had to eat clean the last week or so to get to 275 cause he’s got a comp soon. And he likes to party.


  11. Justin, are there advantages/disadvantages to a velcro vs. a leather belt?

    Sure. I guess I can make this distinction in a post (gives me fresh material to talk about). Velcro belts are not gonna be as useful unless you’re Oly lifting, though.


  12. Sir, I believe you have confused The Valsava maneuver with the G-Strain technique, two quite different things indeed.

    In other news, how many pounds/kilos will be added to my lifts if I wear a belt?

    I know the difference between the two techniques. I’ve worked with lots of fighter pilots including the instructors at Sheppard AFB. They still call it the Vasalva even though it is slightly different. What goes on physiologically is the same though (increasing of pressure).


  13. Aidrius,
    100 pounds will be added to all of your lifts immediately, but only if you get a forest green double prong belt, and wear it backwards.

  14. I agree with aidrius. The valsalva maneuver increases abdominal pressure, whereas the G-stain technique is primarily used to differentiate cells in pap smears.

    This made me laugh out loud.


  15. @WCM025

    A very poignant question, as it were: I was about to ask something similar.
    I stopped by a fitness supplies warehouse today to see what they had for belts. To my horror, all they had were velcro belts of varying shapes and sizes – not a leather or suede belt to be seen!

    When I WTF’d the (weak, skinny, out of shape) guys that were working there, they fed me some lines about how velcro belts have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages (the single disadvantage that they could name being the break-in period of a leather belt – a trivial concern, IMO), and that they are “good enough” for “most users” (read: weekend warriors).
    Basically, I inferred that it boiled down to: they could sell velcro belts to the masses, but not leather ones. It was a real shame, because this warehouse is fucking HUGE… I mean, one would think they’d have some selection for chrissakes!

  16. Ok, so then I should immediately look to replace my velcro belt with a leather belt (unless training oly lifts)? I thought the material wasn’t as important as the thickness of the belt. Just as long as the belt is tight enough, I thought it didn’t matter whether it was leather or velcro. Justin, if you could make a post about the usages of a velcro/leather belt, when it should be used, the advantages/disadvantages of both, ect, ect. that would be super useful. I just started wearing a belt a couple weeks ago and i LOVE it, however I wonder if I’m missing something not having a leather belt.

    Thanks so much dude.

    PS – I ended up buying 310lbs, a squat rack, bench, dumbbells, and an a-tree off for $250. AWESOME.

  17. I just invested in a belt a couple weeks ago, good ol’ Walmart special for $20! Its nice and stiff and works good I have to say. I was shocked at how sore my abs were after my first couple of workouts using it, I didn’t realize it was going to actually make them work THAT much harder.

    I am looking for some advice on food…what are some good 70’s big snacks that I can eat at my desk at work? I usually drink milk before work and as soon as I get home but I don’t really have a way to drink milk AT work. I usually snack on fruit, trail mix, and granola bars, but I’m wondering if there are other things with MORE CALORIES and PROTEIN that I can eat easily while staring at the computer?

    You should try eating cottage cheese and put fruit in it, blueberries or manderine oranges are good, and putting cinnamon in it improves the taste.

    ~ Big Chris

  18. Gregor:

    Buy a Thermos for your milk. Make PeanutButter and Nutella sandwiches to keep on hand, as well as beef jerky, cans of tuna and another thermos of milk. For just added calories, anything that is easily carried and tasty is usually caloric. At least they used to be before those damned “100 calorie” packs.

  19. damagg,

    Thanks for the input. I agree about the “low-cal” snacks that are out now, I walk the grocery aisle trying to find the ones with the most but don’t have much luck.

  20. PR Friday today is putting weight overhead for the first time in 2 months – coming off wrist injury due to USMC/BJJ and an ugly 90 snatch – made the lift at least…

    Very light drop snatches 40/45/50!… fuck me running.

    Very light CJ 70,75,80.

    I use the Valeo belt from USAW on CJ/squats. Works fine, lever locks velcro in place its never popped out on me. Mobility is great for OL but not enough support for PL.

    Now to rehab back to weights where I need the belt…

  21. Does anyone know where I can buy a nice suede belt? Both APT & Elite Fitness have been out of stock since the end of last year. Problems with their supplier, I think…

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  26. “the tightness forces and allows the abdominal muscles to contract harder into the belt.”

    I was confused reading this, this means the rectus abdominis? Does this mean that we should be tying the belt so tightly that it’s closer to the spine than the front crest of the pelvis is? Otherwise it’s confusing to picture how the abs would contract into it… like I pictured the abs pulling from the ribs to the pelvis and the belt would be going over that or something?

    This shouldn’t be tight enough to be deep enough to hit muscles like the psoas or transversus abdominis though right?

    One thing I figured would be like maybe the pressure of the gut against the belt would be uncomfortable so maybe this causes our transversus abdominis to tighten and pull the gut inward?

    Are you being serious?


  27. I got tired of the 20 year old belts they have at the gym (university gym, just remodeled with all new equipment… probably spent a few hundred K on shiny new machines, plus the all-important 15 wide-screen TV’s for the treadmill area… but not one new belt) flaccid leather with broken buckles, or velcro that has totally lost all grab. So I bought a Titansupport belt, love it for squats… Too wide/thick for DL (my best so far is 385), I am gonna try a walmart leather belt and see how that goes.
    And the pork shoulder is in the crockpot waitin’ for me to get home.

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