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I've been trying to dead lift heavier (up to 380), but seem to have reached a plateau...the biggest obstacles seem to be my grip strength (thinking of using straps) and pressure on the lower back. Is it time to use a belt? what are the drawbacks to using one? and should I just put it on when I get to the heavy sets?

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Why do you think a belt would help you @Meade? – Ivo Flipse Mar 29 '11 at 18:08
@Ivo - the belt, from what I understand, would support/take pressure off of my lower back – Meade Rubenstein Mar 29 '11 at 19:11
how would it support your back and why do you think you need it? I'm trying to lure you into adding this information into your question That way you'll attract better answers! – Ivo Flipse Mar 29 '11 at 19:16
up vote 13 down vote accepted

I would advise against either straps or a belt. Your grip and lower back seem to be weak points; you want to work on strengthening them and these pieces of equipment do the opposite, taking pressure off. You'll end up with an even greater strength imbalance.

Instead, work around your plateau for a while and focus on techniques that will help these problem areas. A few suggestions:

  • Squeeze the bar HARD whenever you grip it and keep squeezing throughout your set.
  • Don't use gloves as this inhibits your squeezing. If your hands get raw (and they probably will at that weight), use chalk.
  • Focus on a tight core during your lift: squeeze (internally) anus-to-bellybutton, and make sure you are looking up at ~45 degrees and not rounding your back.
  • Hold the bar at the top position for a few seconds before dropping it on the last rep of each set.

Once you have your grip and lower back stronger, then you'll develop new weak points (quad strength, for example) and you can once again work on increasing that and increasing weight without equipment crutches.

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+1 for the grip squeeze tip. – Ron Jan 26 '12 at 7:03
Since posting this, I have found that occasional belt use can help with heavier loads - gives your abs something to push off of. However, I still do much without the belt. – Greg Dec 26 '14 at 22:40

To improve grip strength try deadlift holds for time and try to beat your time. Other exercises which strengthen grip include farmers walks and weighted pull ups.

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If you having sticking points, do what Greg suggested.

Working on getting the lower back stronger and overall core. Otherwise, you are just setting yourself up for disaster on that.

Implement more heavy bar holds without straps and some specialized grip training.

You can try wrapping a towel, squat pad or anything that can increase the thickness of the bar to get some good grip training in.

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