Content of the material
- The Perfect Lifting Belt For You
- Weight Belts Are Not for Newbies
- How to Use a Weight Lifting Belt
- 2 What are weight lifting belts used for in lifting?
- When And Why To Use A Weight Lifting Belt
- Squat University
- Sand Filled Weight Belt
- Are Weight Lifting Belts Dangerous?
- How to Wear a Weight Belt
- 7 What are the types of weightlifting belts?
- How to Use a Weight Belt Correctly
- When to Wear Your Belt
- Benefits of Weight Lifting Belt
- Renting Vs. Buying & Airport Security
The Perfect Lifting Belt For You
As you can see, weightlifting belts provide huge benefits in certain situations while hindering lifters in others. So, when is it time to buy a belt? That’s pretty simple.
If you’re serious about performing heavy barbell lifts, like squats and deadlifts, then a weightlifting belt is a solid investment. In fact, it may be the most important gym accessory you’ll ever buy. If you primarily train with machines or dumbbells, then a belt may not be needed.
If you’re in the market, a belt from Gunsmith Fitness is what you need. While we may be a little biased, you won’t find a higher-quality belt on the market. Every product we create is dedicated to those gym rats looking to build bigger guns.
Our belts are made with premium leather and designed to assist even the swolest bodybuilders in crushing squat and deadlift plateaus! Click here to learn more.
If you’re looking to design your own, be sure to check out our Custom Belts,
Weight Belts Are Not for Newbies
Beginners should refrain from using weight belts. As discussed earlier, these accessories allow you to go heavier in the gym. The problem is that you might end up putting more weight on your back than your body can handle.
Let’s say you’re wearing a belt when squatting, but your hamstrings or core muscles are weak.
The belt will let you lift heavier weights, but there will be more stress on your spine. That’s why it’s important to get your mechanics down and build a strong foundation before you start using a weight belt.
Lifting belts take some of the pressure of your spine, but you still need to increase the load gradually and watch your form. Not doing so can result in pulled muscles, herniated discs, and severe back pain.
Also, do not use a weight belt for exercises that require sitting or lying down. Instead, consider wearing one for heavy lifts performed from a standing position and only for sets above 75% to 85% of your one-rep max.
How to Use a Weight Lifting Belt
The weight belt should sit right on top of your hip bones (iliac crest), which tends to be right over your belly button. The positioning doesn’t need to be exact, though, so you can shift it around for comfort.
The next thing you need to do is find the correct tightness. You want it to be tight enough to brace against, but you also want to be able to take a full breath into your torso so that you can brace properly. If your breathing feels restricted, it’s too tight. But then on the other hand, if breathing feels easy and comfortable, it’s probably too loose. You want to find that uncomfortable-but-still-breathing middle ground.
I had trouble finding the correct tightness at first, but with a bit of trial and error, it started to make sense. When the belt was too tight, my core was too restricted to properly brace against it. And then when the belt was too loose, it gave me no resistance when I braced. Once I’d tried the too-tight and too-loose settings, though, the correct setting became more obvious.
When it comes to doing the Valsalva manoeuvre, you probably already know how to do it. All you need to do is tighten up your abs as if an enemy were about to punch you in the gut. The only real trick is to make sure that you breathe into your belly and then to hold it there as you do your reps. If you’re doing low-rep sets, you might even hold a single breath through the entire set. Otherwise, take your breaths at either the top or bottom of the repetition. This bracing technique is the same as it always is. There’s no need to modify it when using a lifting belt. The belt is just there to add some external resistance to it.
2 What are weight lifting belts used for in lifting?
According to research, when boxes are lifted, there is a tendency for spinal flexion, spinal extension, and the lateral flexion of the spine to occur. Research also has it that when weightlifting belts are worn, forward movements, backwards movements, and sideways movements at the spine can be prevented.
The use of belts when lifting creates great body bio-mechanics. It does this by ensuring that the legs play a great role in lifting instead of the back. When the legs provide the much needed support when lifting, the back is under less pressure and is less likely to get injured.
When And Why To Use A Weight Lifting Belt
Now that that stuff is out of the way let’s talk about when you would actually have the need to use a weightlifting belt. As I mentioned before, powerlifters utilize belts to lift ungodly amounts of weight in the squat and deadlift exercises and most have exceptionally healthy backs. What gives?
For one thing, most seasoned lifters only use the belt at or above 90% of their estimated or calculated 1RM (rep max). This means they only utilize the belt for their heaviest lifts in training and competition and NOT as a means to protect or strengthen their core. For those new to powerlifting, when I train, I may recommend using the belt at or above 80-85% of their estimated 1RM in order to get used to the belt and have a smoother lift.
It is important to note that the main reason lifters use the belt is NOT to prevent injury but to increase the efficiency of their core musculature in order to lift heavier weight than would be attempted without one. The belt will assist in creating extra intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) and stabilize the torso to prevent buckling of the lumbar spine.
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As you can see, whether or not you should use a belt depends on a ton of factors including experience, relative weaknesses, fatigue levels, goals, proximity to a meet, and technique, but hopefully the above information can help you make a more informed decision on when to use a belt in your own training. If you’re still a bit unsure or would rather simply take the guesswork out of your training, reach out to us about coaching today.
Sand Filled Weight Belt
Another option that some of our readers have tried and like is a special multi-pocket weight belt that they fill with sand, instead of buying or renting weights. This certainly reduces luggage weight. We have thought that putting the sand in correctly sized ziplock bags might make the entire process easier.
You can read stories on this page on our site of our readers using this method.
Are Weight Lifting Belts Dangerous?
Some experts believe that weight lifting belts can increase our risk of injury, not just in our backs, but also increasing our risk of developing hernias, hemorrhoids, and varicoceles. Of these experts, Dr Stuart McGill, the leading spinal health researcher, is perhaps the most notable.
McGill is concerned because weight lifting belts increase blood pressure, and so if someone wore a weight belt all day long, they might increase the incidence of varicose veins in the testicles (varicoceles), hemorrhoids, and hernias. However, he notes that “there has been no scientific and systematic investigation of the validity of these suggestions.” Plus, this is an argument against wearing weight belts all day long when working a job that requires doing physical labour. This doesn’t sound like much of an argument against wearing them in the gym.
To get another perspective, I asked a urologist about whether weight belts could cause varicoceles or make them worse. He told me that it shouldn’t be a problem in the context of weight training because the rise in blood pressure would be so brief and intermittent. After all, lifters aren’t wearing their weight belts all day long, just for the few minutes every couple days when doing their squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and rows. If someone cinches their weight belt, spends a minute doing a heavy set, and then loosens their belt, then all of the pressure is relieved, and blood flow returns back to normal. He told me that it’s the sustained pressure that tends to cause varicoceles, not these intermittent bursts. But again, there’s no good research on this. This is just his educated opinion.
To summarize, wearing a lifting belt can also increase our blood pressure by a good 15–40%, meaning that it might be dangerous for people with blood pressure problems, or for people struggling with varicose veins, varicoceles, hernias, or hemorrhoids (although there’s no proof of this yet).
How to Wear a Weight Belt
A belt must be worn tightly to maximize its usefulness. This is physically taxing and should not be done for long periods of time. Research has shown that weightlifting on its own may elevate high blood pressure, and wearing a tight belt during exercise may increase it even more. For this reason, belts should only be used on two primary occasions:
- When performing maximal or submaximal lifts in exercises such as the squat or deadlift, in which the weight is supported by the lifter's back
- While performing exercises which may cause the back to hyperextend, such as the military press.
Loosen the belt to allow blood pressure to return to normal in between sets.
7 What are the types of weightlifting belts?
Aside from the various brand names available today for weightlifting belts. There are also different purposes for these belts. The following are three main type of weightlifting belts:
- As the name suggest, this belt is used for powerlifting. And it is apparently the most popular type of weightlifting belts. They come in single, double prongs or lever. Their thickness is mostly 4 inches.
- This belt is mostly used for CrossFit and bodybuilding training (Olympic style training). Their thickness ranges from 4-6 inches
- Like the name suggest, they are used for benching training and are commonly used by athletes with small stature. Belt thickness ranges from 2 – 3 inches thick.
How to Use a Weight Belt Correctly
First things first, make sure your belt is positioned in the right place. Its front should cover your belly button, while its bottom should be just above the iliac crest, or the superior part of your hip bones.
Take a full, deep breath. If the belt is fitted right, it should allow your belly to expand when you exhale. Simply put, it should be tight but still allow you to breathe properly.
Note that you might find the belt restrictive or uncomfortable in the first few days, which is normal. Try placing it a little bit higher when deadlifting and directly over your belly button when squatting.
Another aspect to consider is the size of your lifting belt.
One that’s about 4” wide will work for most men. Women and men with a smaller frame may want to choose a 3” wide belt so that it doesn’t dig into their ribs or hips during squatting or deadlifting.
Ideally, choose one made from real leather as it will provide better support than a nylon belt. The latter is more suitable for Olympic lifting. A leather belt works best for heavy lifts like the barbell back squat.
As far as thickness goes, aim for 5 to 10 millimeters. A thicker weight belt will be harder to break in and cause discomfort.
When to Wear Your Belt
While it is clear that wearing a weightlifting belt can contribute to more stability in your low back during barbell squatting, its benefits need to be taken with some caution. While wearing a belt can be very helpful on heavy lifts, the long-term use of a belt on ALL lifts can have some harmful effects.
By using a belt ALL the time, the body naturally starts to rely on the passive support the belt supplies. You’re essentially weakening your core by relying on the belt as a crutch. Therefore, learning how to brace and create stability on your own with lighter weight should be the first priority of all lifters.
If you’re looking for a quality weightlifting belt, I’d recommend checking out Cardillo belts.
Benefits of Weight Lifting Belt
There are various benefits of weight lifting belts. The weight lifting belt can make you feel more comfortable and confident. When weight lifting especially if the lifter is a beginner.
The other biggest benefit of a weight lifting belt is that weight lifting belts can reduce injury. So weight lifters can focus on their exercise and not worry about it.
weight lifting belts can also improve weight lifter performance. The weight belt will allow the weightlifter to use their core and other muscles that they might not be using. Because of lack of support from a weight lifting belt.
Renting Vs. Buying & Airport Security
You can rent dive belts at nearly any dive shop. So renting instead of buying and lugging the weights around in your luggage is certainly a viable option. But if the amount of weight is not too great like my belt, then taking it with you while you travel is not too much of a chore. Note that airport security will very likely want to open up your luggage with dive weights in them (the x-ray machines don’t like lead). So keep that in mind when traveling with weights. You may get delayed.