Back Up Your Squats
We're not talking about backing up your squats on a hard drive, but in a way, it's similar in terms of recovery. When you wear a weight belt, or any form of back support when you're lifting, you're actually making your future reps that much stronger.
Everyone's body is structured differently, so dead-lifts and squats will affect the kinetic chain of your body differently than they might affect your friend's. For moves like squats and dead-lifts, wearing a weight belt increases your intra-abdominal pressure which in turn, provides more core stability and protection for your spine. But what if you have just a little core strength to begin with? And what if you're new to lifting? Here's where the type of belt you choose should parallel your goals whether you're a beginner, or a seasoned lifter.
Let's say you're a beginner to intermediate with dead-lifts and squats. This means you likely already have some, or maybe even substantial core value (strength) to begin with. In thIs case, a nylon weight belt with a velcro fastener is ideal for giving you support without giving your abdominal muscles too much of a free ride. A nylon belt offers just enough give and take for your intra-abdominals to support your spine, especially if you're going for more volume (reps) than weight.
Traditional belts are perfect for those with a solid foundation of proper form and a physiological awareness of the necessary muscle recruitment from the abdominal region. A traditional belt provides more pressure to the intra-abdominals than a nylon belt and will ultimately promote you to squat and dead-lift heavier weight over a period of time. So if your goal is weight over volume, then you'll want to incorporate a traditional belt into your program.
Power-lifting belts are the wide leather belts you'll mainly see on professional power-lifters. These belts provide the ultimate intra-abdominal pressure to maximize lifting capabilities. If you're not a power lifter, stick to the nylon or traditional versions. Wearing a power-lifting belt for anything but power-lifting is not only unnecessary, it's uncomfortable, given the thickness and width of these types of belts.
Finally, wearing any weight-lifting belt at all is a personal choice that you can best make by trying it out and seeing how it feels. There is a fine line between science and what feels right for your individual body. When in doubt, listen to your gut instincts (yes, we mean your core).