I often tell people to avoid using the belts whenever possible. If a person cannot perform a squat or a dead lift with proper form without the belt then they shouldn’t be performing those exercises, at least, not yet. I tend to think of things like the weight lifting belt as sort of a crutch; by practicing with it people practice poor, incorrect movement patterns.
This depends on how they are wearing it more so than when they are wearing it. If they have the belt cinched down nice and tight for daily use then they are obviously newbies. If they are wearing it loosely then they are probably trying to hide love handles and/or belly fat. I only wear my belt snug on leg and back day. There are occasions where I will wear it loose for show because I am an amatuer bodybuilder and my name is embroidered on the back of my belt.
It’s impossible to speak to why someone would wear a belt when they are not doing lifting exercises (I carry mine with my lifting shoes in a brightly colored bag so I would notice if someone tried to walk off with it).
But I must take issue with the deeply incorrect information in some of the answers above.
The most common misconception about weight lifting belts is that it passively supports the spine. This just isn’t true.
The way a lifting belt supports the spine is by providing stimulus and resistance for the abs, the muscles that support the spine and by extension all the muscles of the intra-abdominal cavity.
Proper use of a weightlifting belt is:
-Wear it tight
-Before beginning the lift take a deep belly breath and “bare down” pushing the abs against the belt to create maximal intra-abdominal pressure. (The “pushing the truck breath”, the “constipation breath”, the “giving birth breath” whatever picture works for you.)
-Hold that breath the entire time you are in motion. Breathe only when in the most stable position i.e. the top of the Press, the top of the Squat, the top of the Deadlift, between the Clean and the Jerk.
-Anyone who has used a Belt correctly with tell you IT DOES NOT MAKE THE ABS LAZY. It makes the whole mid body stronger. It is particularly useful with a new trainee who does not have as much control over their spine and again when a trainee is strong and trying to make consistent gains.
Wearing a belt passively serves little to no purpose and may induce a trainee to be lazy about form thinking that canvas or leather will take car of them- that is the only way a belt can do harm.
Good luck with your lifting!!
Depends who’s training, what their goals are.
Good for bodybuilders or strength oriented athletes who want to maximize the strength of their back, leg and shoulder muscles. Because they are serious enough to work with a belt, they most likely are taking into account core exercises and power work to increase abdominal strength and balance.
For the 3 times a week person going for health or weight loss? Definitely not. They will not have the strength or endurance to put up heavy loads of weight. They will also want to engage their abdominal, obliques and back muscles to stabilize the body.
Unless you are a power lifter who uses “gear” (squat/deadlift suit) performing maximum effort squats or dead lifts you shouldn’t need one. Lifters fill their lungs with air and force their stomachs against the belt for stability and rebound out of the lift. Many power lifters will wear belts to keep their bench shirt pulled down during the bench press. Like gloves they can be a security blanket for some people. The belt should be worn a tad loose.