Will Beltless Squats Make Your Abs Stronger?

beltless squat
May 20, 2023 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “will beltless squats make your abs stronger?”. This is an interesting topic as there are people who overuse belts in their training.

There is a time and a place for wearing belts, but over reliance on them can make your abs weaker. This article will explore various nuances surrounding this topic and will prove to be very informative.

Will Beltless Squats Make Your Abs Stronger?

Incorporating more beltless squats into your training will help to make your core work harder and become stronger. If you only ever perform squats with a belt, your core will not get as strong as it can.

The belt helps provide extra intra abdominal pressure, it makes the lift safer on your back. However, over reliance on a belt will hold back the development of your core strength.

You will also limit the top end of weight that you will be able to use. You will be more likely to suffer from form breakdown with top end weights, as a result of not being stable enough through the core.
eddie hall abs

Belt Increases Intra Abdominal Pressure

When you squat with a belt on you are able to increase the intra abdominal pressure by pushing your belly out into the belt when breathing in.

This helps to keep you more stable during the squat and also serve to protect your back when the weight gets very heavy. You can lift more weight with a belt on for this reason.

Does being able to lift more weight with a belt on make your abs stronger? Not necessarily, what it will facilitate is getting stronger overall on the squat. However, relying too much on a belt will actually weaken your abs.

This is why it is a very good idea to incorporate beltless training and not rely too heavily on a belt. Having a weaker core will hinder you on very heavy squats and mean that even with a belt on you are not as stable as you should be.

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Beltless Squats Engage More Stabiliser Muscles

Because beltless squats require the abs and lower back to work harder during the lift, you will engage more stabiliser muscles.

It is harder to remain locked in and stable when squatting heavy weights without a belt. Getting strong on beltless squats is extremely beneficial as it will help to bulletproof your core and make your stabiliser muscles stronger.

When you then attempt a heavy squat with a belt on, you will get a lot more out of the belt. It is a big mistake to start wearing a belt with light weights, in the same way that people who use straps with light weights are hindering themselves.
beltless squat

Eddie Hall On Beltless Training

Eddie Hall has credited beltless training for his incredible core strength. He would perform very heavy exercises in the gym beltless. In addition, he often used longer barbells that were tougher to stabilise.

By doing this his stabiliser muscles and core became very strong. In strongman competitions he would have a lot less trouble than other competitors with stability on exercises like the log press or axle press.

While many competitors would be shaking trying to stabilise awkward and heavy weights, Eddie found this relatively easy. This is why beltless training is so powerful, it just makes your core stronger as a whole and you can be more functional in everyday life.

Matt Wenning’s Views On Beltless Training

Matt Wenning also has interesting views when it comes to beltless training. He also acknowledges that too many people become overly reliant on belts. You will literally see some people in the gym wearing a belt on exercises like curls.

Matt Wenning advocates that people should train beltless 50% off the time. By doing so your core will not weaken. It is important to develop strength in the core and stabilisers. This will also keep you safer and more stable when you belt up on heavy sets.

In Matt’s case he would have his belt set on different levels of tightness depending on the weight. For super heavy weights he would wear his belt really tight. This helped to keep him safer, but it also allowed his core to do more work with lighter weights.

This is certainly a good approach to adopt. Matt Wenning holds the equipped 1197.6lbs all time world record squat from 2011. So he definitely backs up his talk! 

Final Thoughts

Will beltless squats make your abs stronger? The simple answer is that they will. You should incorporate beltless training and do it at least 50% of the time. If you wear a belt on every set of squats, your core and stabilisers will get weaker.

It is never a good idea to have any weak links. They will show themselves in the worst way when it comes to maximal lifts. You want your body to get stronger overall from working with light weights to much heavier weights.

A good way to transition to training with a belt with heavier weights, is to adopt Matt Wenning’s approach. Have your belt set to different levels of tightness depending on how heavy your working set is.

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