Weightlifting belts are one of the most controversial topics when it comes to working out in the gym using massive amounts of weight.
This is mainly because most folks have misconceptions about how these belts even function. Not to mention, being utterly unaware of the way they actually help you.
In this article, we will talk about the real weight lifting belt pros and cons, and just how they can affect your workout routine, both in the short term and in the long run.
Hopefully, this will help you decide whether you're ready for a belt. You will also realize if it is something you really want or not.
Weight Lifting Belt Pros and Cons
To address the prevalent issue we talked about, know that a weightlifting belt doesn't really give you more strength on its own, nor does it keep you safe from injuries. However, if you utilize it properly, and you are already an experienced weightlifter, both of these things become possible.
Why? This is because of the belt acting as an upgrade to your core muscles, and if those are already strong, combined with the proper weightlifting techniques, it will allow you to "pull" more weight than you could without it.
Below, we have listed some of the most common benefits, as well as the disadvantages, that using a weightlifting belt can lead to.
This is a pretty unclear subject since there isn't much scientific research to support neither the many pros nor the cons of wearing a weightlifting belt. However, we will only talk about the ones that are already proven to be genuine and helpful to many.
- Stabilizes Your Spine
If you're starting to lift enormous weights or even just the ones that are too much for you at the moment, your spine will likely take a huge amount of pressure. This can be minimized, though not completely removed, by using proper lifting techniques.
Here is where weightlifting belts come in! Correctly using a belt to support your core and abdominal muscles will take a huge amount of pressure off of your spine and back. Doing this will save your spine from a lot of damage in the long run, and help you stay healthy when you grow older, as issues with spine tend to show up as you age.
- Allows You to Lift More Weight
Tightening your abs and your core, while taking a deep breath, will allow you to lift more weight than usual. You probably tried this maneuver sometime in your life. If not, then you must've seen it in the movies or TV shows.
Using a weightlifting belt while doing this will enhance your strength further since it will function as an additional layer of support to your core. This is particularly useful if you're looking to beat a personal record, competing professionally, or just trying to outdo your friend at the gym.
However, a weightlifting belt, no matter how expensive or good quality it is, will not magically make you stronger than before. Hence, you need to be careful not to try lifting too much at once and only do it if you're sure that your technique is perfect.
As you will see, these cons mostly affect those who are absolute amateurs when it comes to lifting weights. Men and women who have enough experience with high loads will most likely have no issues unless they are suffering from a medical condition.
- Teaches Bad Practice to Beginners
Mastering the techniques of lifting weights will allow you to utilize all of your strength and muscle capacity. Once you do that, it's completely safe to start using a belt to push yourself from 100% to 110% of strength.
However, if you get into a practice of using a belt for a strength boost while still having an improper grip or an incorrect breathing technique, you will metaphorically cripple yourself in the long run.
There are experienced folks or trainers in every gym, and most of them would be happy to offer you some advice about weightlifting techniques. Once they are pleased with your posture, then you can consider wearing a belt.
- Affects Lower Back Development
Using a belt will also take the stress off of your lower back muscles. If you aren't doing any additional exercises that target them, they might remain underdeveloped compared to the rest of your body.
This is the reason why you should either start using the belt when all of your muscles are already at their full strength, or if you work each part of your body separately. Doing this will ensure that every muscle group in your body gets its own workout time.
The Final Verdict
To summarize what we talked about, using weightlifting belts has both bad and good sides to it. However, you might have noticed that most of the bad ones only apply to beginners, while the good ones affect experienced lifters.
Keep these weight lifting belt pros and cons in mind when deciding whether you want to start using this accessory, as it can be both a powerful tool and a severe setback.