Weight lifting belts reduce stress on the lower back by lifting weight upright and help prevent hyper-extension of the back by lifting weight over the head.
A belt reduces lumbar stress by compressing the abdominal cavity. This increases intra-abdominal pressure, which offers more support in the lower back.
This allows the erector muscles of the spine, which normally provide the support of the lower back, to exert less effort during exercise. Another benefit of intra-abdominal pressure is a greater reduction in spinal contractions (less back compression).
A belt will help you maintain back alignment, which can be very beneficial if you have had a recent injury and can help prevent injuries caused by weight gain.
Belts can give you more confidence to lift more weight, even more confidence to train harder for longer. Belts can not only help you lift more weight in the gym, but can also help you at other times when you need to lift, such as when moving furniture.
However, these benefits only apply if you use the lift belt correctly. Remember that belts can protect your back to a certain degree but they do not prevent 100% injury.
Nor is it advisable to use it in all the exercises that make up your training program, you should only use the belt for exercises that put too much strain on your lumbar spine, such as squats or dead weight where you reach failure when you do few repetitions.
Constant wearing of the belt can cause muscle atrophy of the back and abdominal muscles. Weakened back muscles can increase the potential for injury. It is advisable to learn how to create intra-abdominal pressure by naturally tightening the abdominal muscles without having to rely on the support of a belt.
When to start wearing a lifting belt
Some cases have been listed in which the use of a belt is not recommended (high repetition workouts with low weights or when there is some type of injury).
Although, when the execution is correct and we have a core worked is not strictly necessary the use of belts, does not mean that in certain occasions its use can benefit us.
A clear example in which it would be advisable to use it would be in those occasions and those that we are trying to improve our PR in some survey.
Certain equipment and accessories of our training should be seen as what they are, simple accessories, but never forget the accessory muscle work to form a good body structure.
The weight-lifting belt serves to increase the stability of the mid-lower part of the spine by increasing intra-abdominal pressure. If your level of weight lifting is just for physical conditioning and toning the belt will be of little use.
It is when great intensities and heavy weights are introduced when the use of the belt is necessary, since the stability provided by the abdominals and lumbar becomes insufficient.
Therefore, the belt is a useful element, but in those specific moments where we believe that the load is too intense and can compromise stability.
Recent studies suggest that an abuse of this element can cause the stabilizing muscles of the lower part of the spine to lose tone and become vague.
Therefore, the belt must be limited to certain exercises and certain specific situations, but the work of stabilization of the spine falls on the belt and we are limiting the function of the muscles.
If your case is that of an injury and you use the belt to protect the area, it is still better to consider choosing a different exercise that does not compromise your injury. Wearing a belt is synonymous with going to the limit, a limit that at a healthy level does not suit us because any limit can lead to injury.
The best to stabilize the lower back is with the muscles themselves, following the principle of progression in intensity little by little these muscles tone up and make their function better. Why take too much weight if we cannot take it?
This is already a subject for bodybuilders.
Best weight lifting belts
Considerations to take into account when buying a belt:
The first thing to look for when buying a belt is to choose the material, nylon or leather. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of them.
The leather belts are stiffer, which in turn provides more firmness and protection to the back. However, the disadvantage of wearing a leather belt is that it is very hard on the skin and can be a problem for people with sensitive skin…
Nylon straps, on the other hand, while holding the back are more flexible. However, you will not get the same sense of security you will get with a leather belt. They are also much more comfortable for sensitive skin and leave no marks.
The next thing you need to look at is the belt lock mechanism. In general, you will have two options, buckle or Velcro. If the belt size is correct, the buckle system allows the belt to be tightened as tightly as possible. Velcro gives a personalized fit most of the time. You can slide the belt diameter whenever you want.
Choosing the right weight belt can be the key to optimizing your workouts. Make sure you take the time you need to find the one that best suits your needs.
Belt types and how to place them
Basically there are two types of belts: nylon and leather, the latter being more rigid, so they offer greater firmness and safety to the lower back, in other words, are more effective. However, nylon ones are more flexible and can be less uncomfortable for some users.
Another point that is important to emphasize when choosing a suitable lumbar belt is the size and type of closure.
The size should allow us to tighten the belt to the waist as much as possible, so that the widest part of the belt is located in the lower back, that is, behind the trunk, in the lower back.
There are two types of closure: buckle (Image 1) (It has a series of holes and fixed positions) and Velcro (Image 2) (It can be adjusted perfectly to the waist of each individual to not have fixed positions).
How to wear harbinger lifting belt
If you ask several people in your gym whether or not you should wear a belt when you lift weights, many will say yes and many others will not.
However, the question is not whether you should use it, but when you should use it.
In other occasions, we have talked about the belt as a necessary complement to our training. True, but we must qualify this.
In training routines and exercises with light weight it is not necessary to use it. The fact of carrying it without needing it can harm us more than benefiting us, causing injuries and stopping working muscles of the back and abdomen that we use as stabilizers.
If you train with a lot of weight, you should use the belt to improve the stability of the torso and avoid injuries in these cases. You can also use it in the last series of a given exercise, when we are close to the failure. A clear example of people who need (and use) the lifting belt is weightlifting athletes.
Other details that we have to take into account regarding the use of the training belt are:
- Wearing the seat belt while injured, we risk a more serious injury.
- The belts can reduce the lumbar range of movement, reducing the risk of injury to the lower back.
- The belts can give us the feeling that we can lift more kilos, thus increasing the risk of injury due to this sensation.
Ask a partner or monitor to “watch” and correct your posture and exercise.
What exercises to use weight belt
There are studies that show that using the belt can help us in sports performance, increasing strength, speed and stability. In the long run, this will cause you to develop more muscle mass and strength power; yes, considering that we use it correctly.
Among the most common exercises in the weight rooms we can highlight some that present a higher risk of lumbar injury, among them we name the following, not in order to avoid them but with the objective of performing them taking greater precautions such as making sure you have rachis (back) aligned and starting from a correct and safe initial position for the rest of the joints:
- Standing bicep curl.
- Press of shoulders without support in bench or backrest.
- Front elevation of shoulders.
- Rowing to the neck.
- Horizontal rowing with bar and / or dumbbells.
- Dead weight.
- Good morning or trunk flex in front.
- Elevation of heels in machine.
- Hip extension
These exercises are the most susceptible to use the lumbar belt when the occasion demands it.
Other times when we can make reasonable use of the belt?
- When we are going to use high loads that can compromise our lower back; nevertheless, we must remember that we must train with adequate loads and that this, as a rule (although with exceptions) excludes loads that are so high that they force us to wear a belt.
- When we suffer any discomfort or injury in the lower back and, thanks to the belt, we can complete the training without causing further damage or harming the recovery of the cause in question. Be very careful with this, “the fix” cannot always be viable and could make the situation worse.
- When the lumbar area is fatigued and needs that extra support of the belt to finish the training. Although it may be the case, perhaps the solution is to plan the training so that we avoid such a situation, either by changing the choice of exercises, their order, load, workload, etc.
What type of belt is better?
There are different types of belts in the market. There is leather with buckle and nylon closures or synthetic materials with Velcro closure and the like.
In our opinion, we recommend leather, because they are harder and more durable. Although if the nylon ones are more comfortable, they are also a good option.
Oh, that to use it is not enough to adjust it to my waist? You are not putting the belt that holds your Zara jeans, but you will activate it when you press your abs out and against them when you exercise. What this does is increase the intra-abdominal pressure to stabilize the spine.
Keep in mind that, normally, this accessory is aimed at power lifters, bodybuilders and strength athletes. If all you do is train with a moderate weight, do not even consider using it.
Can everyone use it?
As we told you before: no. Besides not belonging to the named sector, it is possible that it bothers you and does not make you do a good training. Do not insist. There are accessories that are not made for everyone and your sports performance will not be affected for worse if you avoid it.
Also avoid it if you suffer from hernias or have high blood pressure. By forcing the intra-abdominal pressure, we will be increasing the values of both problems.
Are there any risks in its use?
Although many think that future injuries will be avoided, it is true that their (wrong) use can increase the risk of injury. It happens especially if you do not know how to use it or you put it wrong.
The belt does not create an aura that will free you from a bad move or bad technique. Do not put it too low, we do not look for a postural correction as if it were an orthopedic device. And, of course, do not fall into the error of adjusting it as if you were a Kardashian with a corset.
Pros and cons of weight lifting belt