It is common to see the big lads in the gym with a lifting belt strapped around their midsection when they are attempting big lifts like the squat and deadlifts. The reason for using a lifting, or weight, belt is to support the back and to help prevent injury during heavy lifts. By using a lifting belt, you can help to improve posture through certain lifts and you can increase your lifting performance. This occurs due to the increase in abdominal pressure which then allows you to lift heavier. Often, you will see uneducated lifters using lifting belts for their entire workout. Whether they are doing a leg extension, a push up or even crunches, they have their lifting belt on; and this is by no means necessary and can actually cause more harm than good. The only lifts which you should be using a weight belt for is squats, deadlifts and various other Olympic lifts.


With that said, there has also always been a lot of controversy surrounding weight belts. Some believe that these belts help to cover up the fact that the user has a weak core which needs work; others believe that can inhibit motor learning in the core and ab muscles, while others would not even attempt a 1 rep max on heavy lifts without wearing one of these belts. Lifting belts can help reduce the loads placed on the spine which can help prevent injury. This is extremely beneficial when performing exercises which place load on the spine either throughout the movement or at a point along the movement. As mentioned, these include squats, deadlifts, overhead press and other Olympic lifts. If used incorrectly however, weight belts can also cause severe injuries, especially when used by individuals who have a weak core or who use improper form.


Lifting belts can be used as to increase performance and are a great mental tool which work to give the lifter reassurance that their spine is in the correct position when trying to beat a 1RM. The main idea behind wearing a weight belt is not prevent injury, but to increase the efficiency of your core and abdominal muscles. When used correctly, the belt will allow you to lift heavier by increasing intra-abdominal pressure and by stabilizing your torso.



The key benefits of lifting belts include the followings


  • Increase your strength
  • Protect your spine
  • Increase physical performance
  • Keep your spine in the correct position
  • Stabilize your midsection
  • Intensify intra-abdominal pressure
  • Help reduce compressive loading of the lumbar spine
  • Prevent back hyperextension during overhead lifts

Are there any cons to wearing a lifting belt?

As you can see from the above, there are a number of benefits of wearing a weight belt, but what are the cons of using this accessory? If used correctly, the only real con is that weight belts may actually increase blood pressure and heart rate according to researchers.


Final Thoughts

As you may have noticed, I have mentioned using belts correctly a number of times. So what exactly does this mean?


  • Use belts for the correct exercises, not your entire workout.
  • Before using a belt, make sure you have mastered proper form and lifting technique.
  • Always keep your spine in a neutral position when using a belt.
  • Use a belt that is wide all the way around, especially with deadlifts.
  • Don’t be fooled by the false sense of security when using a weight belt. If you don’t lift correctly, you may end up with an injury.

Also, make sure that you don’t overuse your weight belt. This may actually make your core weaker and increase the potential for injury. My suggestion is to perform your first few sets of your big lifts without a belt and only when you are lifting over 80% of your 1RM, then opt for a weight belt.





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3D Nutrition Pro Lifting Belt [Blue]

The 3D Nutrition Pro Lifting Belt incorporates cutting edge design to bring you superior lower back and overall core support for those heavy lifts. Made from the highest quality Neoprene...




 

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