Starting to get into some heavier lifts now. My co-workers keep on saying I should be wearing a belt but I am not 100% sold on them. What are your thoughts?
I will try and sum up my thoughts on belts.
-There is no definitive answer on the efficacy of belt usage. Many good and great coaches and lifters are in favour and some are against. I take a middle road.
-First of all, the proper use of a belt is to help to teach and ensure that you are pressurizing and using your abs well. It should not be a psychological crutch or a way to feel safer in lifting heavier weights. It is not so much the belt that protects your body as it is your own air and abs.
-If you choose to use a belt it is usually best to use it on your heaviest warm-ups and working sets and go without your belt for most of your warm-ups.
-The belt tends to work best with squatting and overhead pressing. These are the best lifts for learning to use it.
-On the deadlift the belt is usually worn looser and higher and this can be confusing at first.
-If you choose to buy a belt look for a very stiff or at least moderately stiff model. Buy one that is uniformly wide front and back. Do not buy a belt that is wide at the back and narrow at the front. This defeats the purpose of the belt, which is to teach you to breathe and brace.
For more in-depth information on belts for the strength lifts, check out Rippetoe's Starting Strength. The above opinions are for squatting, pressing and the like. Belt choice would be different for snatch and clean & jerk.