Whether you're just thinking about starting to lift weights and improve your body, or you have already started the process, you might have seen various strongmen and amateurs who are wearing weightlifting belts.
These accessories are very controversial, as there isn't enough science beyond determining how useful they are precisely, but most professionals agree that they are hugely beneficial if used correctly.
In this article, we will explain the reasons why use a weightlifting belt, and, more importantly, talk about how it benefits the user. Don't worry; we will also cover any potential dangers it can pose.
Why Use a Weightlifting Belt
Many people don't even know what weight belts are actually used for. If you frequently visit the gym, you have probably noticed some people wearing one of these while doing bodyweight exercises, or during a leg day.
These days, it's not uncommon to spot people tightening their belts while preparing for a session of cardio. The truth is that using weightlifting belts for anything except heavy lifting with your upper body is useless. This is the only thing they can actually be helpful for, as they function as a support to your abs, and through an extension to your core.
How to Properly Use a Weightlifting Belt
Properly wearing a weightlifting belt is a little harder than it sounds. Most people just slap it on and don't think about the small subtleties that can change the effectiveness of the belt in many ways. Even some experienced lifters do this in their attempt to be more comfortable, as years of practice in any discipline can sometimes make you forget about the basic rules.
Although it might feel better that way, you should never make your belt too relaxed, as that completely defeats its purpose. On the other hand, tightening the strap too much will make you unable to stretch the abdominal muscles to the required level. It will also diminish the effectiveness of the belt.
We recommend making the belt just tight enough for you to feel pressure when you fully contract your abs. Doing so might require you to readjust it a few times, but it's all in good purpose. Additionally, you could ask some of the more experienced people at your gym to lend you a hand and help you learn how to do this accurately. Having someone to consult and learn from is usually the optimal way to becoming better, especially in the gym.
If you browsed any belts online, you might have noticed that some of them have Velcro closures while others use straps or similar mechanisms. When it comes to adjusting the belt tightness around your central area, this doesn't really matter. However, we would recommend getting a more expensive belt if you're into serious heavy lifting, as it's less likely to fall off or break under pressure.
Reasons to Use a Weightlifting Belt
There are plenty of reasons why you should use a weightlifting belt. However, most professionals don't recommend doing so until you have perfected your lifting technique. They feel like this for many reasons, one of them being the fact that most professionals agree how using weightlifting belts before knowing how to lift can hurt your progress.
The idea behind this is that you might hurt your long-term gym performance if you start relying on the support of the belt from the beginning. It's much safer first to strengthen your core and learn how to handle weight bars properly. Afterward, when you start hitting personal achievements and making serious progress, wearing one is a smart thing to boost yourself up with such a useful accessory.
As we have already mentioned, correctly using a weightlifting belt will provide support to your lumbar and core. When you are preparing yourself for a hard lift, you should usually take a deep breath and subconsciously tighten your abdominal muscles. This allows you to handle more mass than you would usually be able to.
Repeating this process while wearing an accurately set up weightlifting belt will further enhance your lifting power. However, this isn't something you should do each rep. We recommend doing so when entering competitions or doing the hardest reps of the day. Otherwise, you will just take the unnecessary load off your lower back muscles and make the rep easier than it should be.
In this article, we have talked about why use a weightlifting belt at all, as well as explained the adequate means of using it. The first thing you should do is to make sure you have correctly learned the many weightlifting techniques out there. Once you're sure of that, you can go and get a weightlifting belt.
Make sure you tighten it just enough for maximum effectiveness and use it only during the hardest lifts of the day. If you have any more doubts, we recommend consulting the personnel or the experienced lifters at your gym. They will be able to provide you with some more great advice.