Do you need a belt to deadlift? You should use a belt to deadlift when lifting maximal or supramaximal weights. Deadlifting without a belt should be done as much as possible when using submaximal loads to reinforce your natural ability to brace.
Do You Need a Belt to Deadlift?
The Benefits of Using a Lifting Belt While Deadlifting
A lifting belt works by providing support to your lumbar spine area, which comes under huge amounts of pressure during a deadlift movement. Common injuries when deadlifting include herniated discs, which is where a disc in your lumbar spine region comes out of place under pressure from a load.
By pressing against your back when lifting off the floor, a belt helps you to focus more on the correct form and reduce the risk of back injuries from not keeping a neutral spine position when lifting.
In order for a belt to work properly however, you need to be aware of and be able to execute the correct form throughout the deadlift, even when using one.
Whatever your ability level is, your main goal is likely to increase the amount of weight you can lift off the floor. By pushing your core against the weightlifting belt, you're able to increase your intra-abdominal pressure to much higher levels than just naturally bracing your core.
This extra intra-abdominal pressure created by the lifting belt can increase deadlifting performance by 5-15% depending on your current lifting level. For elite lifters, even a 5% increase is a huge amount and often the difference between placings on an Olympic stage.
Alongside physical benefits, wearing a lifting belt helps to increase your confidence when lifting. Whilst deadlifting requires incredible strength, it's also a big mental battle to find the confidence needed to break past lifting plateaus, especially if you’ve been stuck on one for a while.
By wearing a belt during a deadlift, you're able to feel the increased support provided which leads to increased confidence and helps you to focus solely on lifting the weight off the floor rather than wondering if you’ll be able to lift it successfully.
Deadlifting With and Without a Belt: A Detailed Comparison
One of the biggest differences felt when using a belt is the amount of movement you're able to perform. By wrapping around the torso tightly to provide support, wearing a belt to deadlift can also restrict movement, especially in the bottom portion of the deadlift.
When lifting beltless, you should feel much more comfortable and less restricted whilst still being able to generate intra-abdominal pressure through naturally bracing your core.
Lifting beltless for your warm-up sets up to around 80% of your 1RM allows you to focus on the correct form at the bottom portion of the lift before using a belt. This also applies to technique and hypertrophy work, where you’ll be working below your 1RM.
Deadlifters will often try out different belt thicknesses and torso positions so they can use a belt without too much movement restriction.
An increase in deadlifting performance also means an increase in the amount of volume lifted. When using a belt, you're able to perform more reps and sets compared to lifting beltless.
Performing more volume at a higher intensity recruits more muscle fibres, helps to develop confidence and allows you to practice technique under heavier loads.
This is why it's important to include both belted and beltless deadlifts as part of a periodized training program, with the use depending on the intensity of the lifting.
Deadlifting without a belt should be done at submaximal loads when there is less risk of you not being able maintain a neutral spine position throughout the full deadlift movement.
By deadlifting beltless, you're able to focus on maintaining the correct technique, strengthen your core and lower back muscles and develop the ability to naturally brace your core under heavier loads.
As I've discussed above, wearing a belt increases your ability to recruit your core musculature, creating much more intra-abdominal pressure vs just naturally bracing your core when not using a belt.
When deadlifting, you want to transfer as much force as possible from the ground up to your upper body whilst maintaining a neutral spine.
By not using a belt for sub-maximal lifts, you learn how to naturally brace properly which then helps to get the most out of the belt when you wear it for maximal lifts.
A belt should be used as an external cue, helping to maintain the correct technique whilst providing added stability.
When deadlifting with a belt, technique can often be forgotten with some people thinking the belt will provide protection for bad habits.
This is why it's important to deadlift beltless during the warm up process to focus on the correct technique cues to use during the heavier loads.
Brief Review of This Product We Recommend
The Warm Body Cold Mind (WBCM) 4" Leather Weightlifting Belt offers a premium leather weightlifting belt option at a reasonable price.
Constructed from high-quality leather, the 6 mm thick belt is 4" wide at the back to give strong, comfortable back support. The double-pronged stainless steel buckle keeps the belt securely fastened around your torso so it doesn't loosen during repeated, heavy use.
The durable belt has been nicely designed using laser-printing, with the big WBCM logo stretching around the back. It is approved for IWF competitions and ranges from S-XXXL.
How much should you deadlift with a belt?
The general rule is that compound lifting up to around 80% of your 1RM should be done beltless. When warming up, focus on the correct bracing and breathing techniques in order to improve your intra-abdominal bracing for when a belt is being used.
How much does a belt increase your deadlift?
For deadlifts, wearing a belt increases your intra-abdominal pressure by about 15%. In terms of performance, this translates into around a 5-15% improvement in weight lifted off the floor.
This is as long as you still perform the correct bracing and breathing techniques whilst using a lifting belt.
A weightlifting belt should be used when deadlifting at maximal and supra-maximal loads to provide the extra support needed when your lumbar spine comes under added pressure. The benefits of a lifting belt include increased intra-abdominal pressure, injury prevention and increased confidence when lifting.
A weightlifting belt should be used as an aid for lifting and not as a replacement for correct bracing and technique. When warming up, performing hypertrophy work and working at a submaximal load, lift beltless.
What belt strategy do you use when lifting? Do you use a belt to deadlift? Let's discuss in the comments section below.
- The Ultimate Weightlifting Belt Guide // Bodybuilding: https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/the-ultimate-weightlifting-belt-guide.html
- Abdominal Bracing Exercises to Take the Strain Off Your Back // Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/abdominal-bracing
My name is Ihor and I have been a professional weightlifter since 1996. With over 20 years of competition experience, my resume includes European Champion in 2009 and the silver medalist at 2011's Senior World Championships – 105kg division.
I competed at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.
After hanging up my own competitive lifting shoes, I decided to share my huge background as a coach. I am currently coaching multiple athletes who are competing at national and international competitions.