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i was doing a bit lighter weight squats today (225lb) and some brown guy came up to me and told me i need to use a belt because it is a lot of weight for my body weight and my back is gonna snap. he was doing squats in the smith machine lol
i was like and kept doing my squats and he kept coming back to tell me that squats are gonna snap my back
imo, not until at least like 3 plates after a loooooong time of doing proper squats with perfect form to develop your natural squat first. and only on your heavy sets. if you use a belt too soon you dont develop the core stability you need and you're cheating the original point of the exercise
its like running. if you run for cardio, but your cardio isnt very good, so instead of improving your cardio, you get in a car and drive around the block a few times... you aren't really accomplishing what you intended are you.
whenever you are performing an exercise that puts your back at risk. Fuck all that training core and whatnot shit. The amount of weight you lift is relative to your body size and weight, at around 60-70% you are starting to put a significant amount of stress on your back muscles, and having a belt definetly helps. If you have one, then use it lol, and I don't see any reason why you would be lifting less than 70-80% unless you're doing crossfit, in which case, having a belt or not won't make a difference
RRxstar makes a good point about starting off without using belt first... It's good because then your body doesn't immediately get used to lifting with a belt on right from the get-go, you want to be strengthening your back to a certain degree. It's when you start approaching weights where you are really pushing yourself 70-80% of 1RM that you should start considering the weight belt
The types of exercises that I'd say will put your back at risk are: rows, squats, deadlifts, etc.
Imo, there really isn't a set amount of weight for you to start using a belt. You use it when you feel like you're lifting weights that are putting your back at risk... People can argue the same for straps and grip strength, but hey, this isn't forearm strength we're talking about. this is your fucking back LOL, ur putting urself at risk for spinal disc herniation, and a shit ton of other medical conditions.