Weightlifting belts have become a common sight in most gyms. They are designed to provide support to the lower back during heavy lifting, and many people believe that they help in preventing injuries. However, there is a debate about whether weightlifting belts are necessary or beneficial. In this article, we will break down the myths and provide you with the facts you need to make an informed decision about using weightlifting belts.
WHEN YOU DON’T NEED A BELT
A weightlifting belt may not always be necessary, and you should avoid using it if you fall under any of the following categories:
You Don’t Squat or Deadlift. Weightlifting belts are most useful when executing movements that put a lot of force on the back, such as squats, deadlifts, push presses, etc. If you are training with bodyweight movements or using dumbbells, a weightlifting belt may not be necessary.
Weightlifting belts do not fix bad form, and it is essential to have proper form before using a weightlifting belt. Using a weightlifting belt with bad form can worsen your posture and increase your risk of injury. Until you have mastered proper form, you should steer clear of a weightlifting belt.
Proper Stabilizing If you have weak core muscles, it can be challenging to lift weights without a weightlifting belt. However, if you rely on a weightlifting belt for support, your core muscles may become weaker. Therefore, it is essential to learn how to lift weights without a belt during beginner and intermediate gains phases.
WHEN YOU MAY NEED A BELT
One of the main benefits of using a weightlifting belt is injury prevention. When you're lifting heavy weights, particularly with exercises like squats and deadlifts, you're putting a lot of pressure on your back and core. This can lead to orthopedic injuries, especially if you're lifting at 80% or more of your one-rep max. A weightlifting belt can help prevent these injuries by providing additional support for your core.
In addition to injury prevention, weightlifting belts can help you lift more weight. Research has shown that athletes can increase their max weight by 9.7% for women and 12.4% for men after training with a belt for just two weeks. This improvement in strength is due in part to the improved biomechanics that come with using a weightlifting belt.
When you wear a weightlifting belt, you're forcing your legs to bear more of the weight during exercises like squats and deadlifts. This can help reduce the stress on your back and spine, allowing you to lift heavier weights without increasing your risk of injury. Additionally, the intra-abdominal pressure inside your body can increase by over 40% when you wear a belt, which can reduce pressure on your lower back and improve the stability of your lumbar spine.
Weightlifting belts can also help you break through plateaus in your training. Many natural trainees find themselves stuck at a certain level of strength, and incorporating a weightlifting belt into their routine can help them topple their one-rep max PRs. This improvement in strength can also have a positive impact on your mental strength and confidence in the gym.
While weightlifting belts are a great accessory for many lifters, it's important to use them correctly. It's best to use a weightlifting belt for exercises like squats and deadlifts, where the added support can make a big difference. However, you shouldn't rely on the belt as a crutch or use it for every exercise. You should also make sure that the belt fits properly and is adjusted to the right tightness to provide the best support for your core.
In conclusion, weightlifting belts are a great accessory for intermediate and advanced lifters who want to get the most out of their lifts. They can help prevent injuries, improve biomechanics, increase strength, and break through plateaus in your training. However, it's important to use them correctly and not rely on them as a crutch. If you're interested in incorporating a weightlifting belt into your routine, talk to a qualified trainer to make sure you're using it correctly and safely.
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