Weightlifting Belt Benefits / Power Lifting Belt Benefits
Wearing a weightlifting belt is standard practice for Olympic weightlifting and powerlifters. In recent years, gym goers and lifters with varying skill levels are wearing belts. The question is, do weight belts help when you exercise?
The two main purposes of wearing a weightlifting belt.
- It reduces stress on the lower back while you’re lifting in an upright position.
- It prevents back hyperextension during overhead lifts.
Weightlifting belts reduce low back stress by compressing your lower abdominal cavity. By increasing your intra-abdominal pressure (IAP), you are supporting the front of your lower back bones.
Your spinal erector muscles produce less force during weightlifting thereby giving you less lower back support. The spinal erector muscles, which would normally provide support to the lower back, can produce less power during your lift.
Wearing a belt makes you more aware of the position of your back while lifting. The physical sensation or the belt against your skin prompts you to maintain good posture. A belt does not have to be worn too tight to affect your posture. Lifters have reported that they feel more secure and confident while wearing a belt.
Beginning lifters can also benefit as they learn to squeeze their ab muscles properly. It is always recommended for beginning lifters to work with a coach to properly learn to lift and stabilize the weight while performing their weightlifting exercises correctly.
Types of Weight Belts
There are various types of weightlifting belts available on the market. Some of the most common ones are powerlifting belts and bodybuilding/traditional belts. Velcro belts can be easier to put on and remove than leather ones, and thicker belts can be more supportive of the spine when performing weightlifting exercises.
How to Wear a Weightlifting Belt
Wear your belt tight to maximize its usefulness. This can be physically taxing, and you should not wear a belt for long periods of time. Research shows that weightlifting elevates your blood pressure and wearing a tight belt during exercise may increase it further. For this reason, belts should only be used on two primary activities:
- When performing exercises that utilize with your back such as deadlifts and squats
- While performing exercises which may cause the back to hyperextend, such as the military press.
You can loosen your belt between sets to allow blood pressure to return to normal.
When You Don’t Need a Weightlifting Belt
Weightlifting belts are not necessary for all exercises. For example, you do not need to use a weightlifting belt while performing exercises such as the lateral pull-down and leg extensions.
In addition, weightlifting belts have little effect when you are lifting light weights. However, if you’re wearing a weight belt while lifting lighter weight you are still elevating your blood pressure. Lifters with heart disease or blood pressure problems should consult with their physician before considering exercise or wearing a weightlifting belt.
A last consideration is you don’t want to wear a belt during all your lifting exercises as you are not allowing your abdominal muscles to strengthen. This leads to a weaker core. Strong abdominal muscles are important in maintaining core stability and it is important not to be too dependent on belts while training.
Weightlifting belts benefits your back support by increasing intra-abdominal pressure and preventing back hyperextension. Especially when doing squats and deadlifts so make sure to use the right equipment during the right times.