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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Name the maker of this Sweat Angel.
Rest Day
Make Up Day
Complete for time:

5 Manmakers
20 Pullups
10 Manmakers.
15 Pullups
15 Manmakers
10 Pullups
20 Manmakers
5 Pullups

This blog post is partially inspired by a little experiment I have been conducting and a conversation Nate and I had today.

As many of you know I am something of a meathead. I enjoy the heavy lifting much more than the huff and puff workouts. Although it should still be noted that I do some of the mainsites workouts in an effort to be as well rounded as possible. But I program my own lifts and workouts because I enjoy the experimentation and pursuit of my goals.

I have read and studied quite a bit and noticed that through out the history of weightlifting belts have been used, from the earliest strongmen to today's raw powerlifters. I believed, and did research to support, that a belt would make you stronger, safer, than not using one. I bought a belt and used it, currently I am seeing the expected gains with perhaps less injury.

How does the belt work? A belt provides something for the abdominals to push against. What you are doing is taking a fixed volume and compacting it, but taking the internal thoracic volume and giving it something to push against. Thus creating higher internal pressure and thusly allow the body to support a heavier load. A belt does not: Put your abs to sleep, if anything they work harder; Protect you lumbar spine, you can still round the back in a belt, look at any strongman doing stone work; keep you from being strong, far from it, the ability to support and move heavier loads which will make you stronger without the belt and thus able to move more weight over broad time and modal demains.
This is an important distinction: a belt will help you support heavier weights, But it provides no lift or help to any load. It is an important distinction that the belt provides no help. Anything my legs cant move, they still cant move after I take the belt off. Indeed, it may be more dangerous to my back without the belt. Not so for knee wraps or a squat suit which when properly used can add up to 100 pounds (or more) to a raw squat. A belt cannot add anywhere that much, but the gains from the support and safety of a belt will be carried over, which is not so with a squat, bench or deadlift suit.

In Crossfit there is an illiberal dislike of equipment. Belts are eschewed; but most of the male 2009 games competitors used them. This then begs the question what is considered illegal equipment and what isn't. Take pullups for example. Chalk will let you stay on the bar longer and do more pullups. Same could be said for the bar: an even, level surface from which to pull can be considered an advantage. But that too one side; Let's look at shoes. Weightlifting shoes are out as being almost tantamount to using a belt. But then again so are running shoes, as the shoes adsorb shock and let you go further than if you were running barefoot, not to mention protecting your feet. And with that said the same could be said for clothes, anything except going naked would be considered help of some sort. If anything the area of equipment is a nebulous and grey area, for each person to consider and judge what is right for them.

But this reductio ad absurdum sort of argument serves no purposes. Many of you are not interested enough in weightlifting to have need to every consider using a belt. But those of you who are, must make a choice in using one. In my justification of using a belt, I have used Total as my testing ground reserving Totals for non-belt use, and my use elsewhere is tempered by the whims of the day and the workout. It was a careful and considered opinion. And I believe that it has made my press, deadlift and squat stronger which was what I was after. In this case the equipment justified the end product. If I can get stronger, safer with one piece of equipment I have absolutely no problem using a belt. But I draw the line at something that provides some external help.

Post opinions and diet to comments.

-Paul "I Love to Squat Heavy" Siegel


  1. ...and belts probably won't make manmakers suck any less...

  2. Speaking of belts... I have to go buy new ones because I'm shrinking so much!!! I haven't lost any lbs so far, but I had a tailor take out 2 in. from my dress pants and now my belts are all too big, yay!!!

  3. Paul-
    Interesting comments on belts. Aside from the judgement of others, did you find any disadvantages of using a weighlifting belt in your research??

  4. Craig,

    The one disadvantage I've noticed personally is that it made me too strong. There's really nothing I can't lift now.

    But in all seriousness now I haven't noticed any real downsides. it take a little getting used to but not too bad.

  5. CrossFit's organic approach to health and fitness is the primary aspect that drew me to the training method. It's the no pin loaded machines to choose the pattern or path of movement that my body will squat or press from. The empty room or box where all the pain/progress is born. Coming from 20+ years of Globo-gyms, steroid using, wristwrap wearing and definately belt wearing world; one of my first questions starting CrossFit was, "Why no weight belt?". Without going into the science or physics, the staight forward response I got from Tony Budding at my (CrossFit level 1 cert) was "because it's harder to do without a belt and if there's a way to make it more difficult than CrossFit will lean in that direction."

    I share the opinion with Chace and agree that belts, suits and wraps can and should be used amongst elite powerlifters and olympic lifters that are squatting 700lbs or SPECIALISTS which we as CrossFitters are not. I think Chuck Carswell said it best "Sometimes life demands that you pick things up without a belt and often situations in life arise where you don't have the proper gear." I think it's balanced enough to train sometimes with and sometimes without a belt depending on what your goals are. I prefer to train without because my goal is to be strong in real world capacity not just to get a higher "Total". The minute you pigeon hole yourself making it nessasary to have chalk, weightbelt, knee wraps, straps or barbell to do a task, you have just identified a recipe for disaster.

  6. Hey, hey, hey.....

    Not a damn thing wrong with a little chalk!!!

    Andy "Powder Pants" Porter

  7. I think oxygen could be considered undue help as well. Why doesn't Paul do his next workout without breathing. Maybe the brain damage would lighten up the posts!

  8. Lisa Bizooooond aka mighty mouseFebruary 11, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    Nate- What if you wear a big belt already as fashion statement?

    And I eat blood shakes for dinner.......minus the shake. (Who said this before me?? Hmm.....who could it be)

  9. Jeff, as always, bringing in a salient point. I will try that tomorrow and see what happens. Sometimes we get a little too wrapped up in the minutiae when we should just do it and stop thinking about it.

  10. Paul, I think it's great that you use the belt, you kick butt on heavy days!... it'd be interesting to try it out

  11. Paul,
    as usual your blogs are greatly informative. I am learninga lot and definetely starting to share the same passion for weightlifting. Anything extreme can potentially set us up to disaster. Balance is key in any type of system. Belt or no belt, love for CrossFit is a great display of courage. Keep up with the good work, Paul! Thank you so much!

  12. Diet's been pretty good this week. In general the last couple weeks I've had one cheat moment a day but this week I've been able to even avoid those. Having ripe fruit around helps to satisfy my sweet tooth. I think I've been a little heavy on the nuts though and they've been messing up my stomach. I need to diversify my fat sources...

  13. Does anyone else think the HQ Friday WOD pic is out of line? Do I CrossFit so I can look good wearing a speedo in the snow? Certaily not! I CrossFit so I can move fallen trees after a storm, or win at the Feats of Strength. I CrossFit so I can throw my girls halfway across the pool during the summer or pile-drive their bum dates...when they get to be that age.

    But - if I did look good in a speedo, tomorrow would probably be a good opportunity to capture a shot of me doing a pistol in the parking lot, snow abound. I'd make Chace take it while all those smokers are out there freezing their asses, and send it straight to HQ.

    Enough rambling...I'm gonna go read that Friday WOD again.

  14. Ya, I agree it was a bit much

  15. I've got 2 good Paleo recipes... kale chips and almond macaroons. Holler if you want them!

    And that's Chad's nastiness on the floor.

  16. ok...umm...whatever...Nate...I just sort of love you...in a platonic way of course. I have been at your gym in one form or another for...well...years and years. I admire you and your willingness to adapt and change with what you believe is the BEST fitness program available.

    I told Andy recently...changes are not always made by those who impact the world with BIG adaptations...but often, with people like you, who make a difference in smaller ways...yet create a change in so many people.

    You have motivated so many of us to aspire to not only fitness, but strength, tenacity and fell the pain "good gracious why am I here".

    We all return...for the challange, the pain, the strength, but most of all, because we all believe in the program an we have the BEST crossfit trainers ever.