Weightlifting belt during strength training: when do I need it?
The weightlifting belt is probably one of the most well-known equipments in weight training. You've probably seen a few athletes in your gym using a belt for Deadlifts or Squats.
There are many myths about the weightlifting belt: for example, it weakens your core (muscles of the abdomen and lower back). Or the belt makes you lift more weight.
This article will inform you how to use it correctly and when you really need it!
Construction and use of the weightlifting belt
The belt is usually made of leather or a robust synthetic material. It has a wide waistband and can be opened and closed with either a buckle or a lever closure.
You should use a belt with a lever closure. You can open and close it quickly and easily. This saves you time and is practical.
You should wear the belt around the middle of the body. Exactly how you position it depends partly on your anatomy.
The belt should fit tightly. However, it is essential that you can breathe without problems. A belt that is too tight can even break your ribs if the weight is too heavy.
The weightlifting belt is used to stabilize the spine through intra-abdominal pressure. This means that the synergy of your intra-abdominal pressure and core muscles will stabilize your spine. Thus, injuries can be avoided, and additional stability can be generated.
The belt is usually used for exercises in which your spine is subjected to a heavy load. This applies especially to the Squat, Deadlift, or heavy rowing exercises with barbell.
In our Alpha Progression app, you will find a selection of exercises where using a weightlifting belt is beneficial.
Basic requirements for the use of a weightlifting belt
Cleverly used, the weightlifting belt stabilizes your spine and lets you move about 5-15 % more weight. However, you should have perfect technique and good tension build-up.
Basic requirement 1: The right technique
Before you strap on the belt and start training like crazy, you should first master the appropriate technique. Let's take the Deadlift as an example. If you do it incorrectly, you can quickly injure your spine.
Therefore, it is essential that you first internalize the movement sequence of the exercise without a belt. Pay attention to the coordination of the muscle groups and joints involved. Always keep control of the weight.
The technique is a learning process, and you will only build strong core stability through constant practice. Only when you have mastered the technique should you use a weightlifting belt to, e.g., break through new plateaus. A belt will never compensate for poor technique and allow you to perform significantly better.
Basic requirement 2: Correct tension build-up
Let's stay with the example of the Deadlift. It is a demanding exercise and requires correct technique. Thus, it is essential to maintain proper form and stability while lifting.
All joints and muscles involved must constantly build up tension in combination with controlled breathing. It is essential to ensure maximum pressure build-up in the abdomen and chest.
You should master the correct build-up of tension before using a weightlifting belt. While the belt can help you provide additional stabilization to your spine during heavy weights and get the most out of your workout, you should never use it to replace poor tension building.
If your belt accidentally opens during the Deadlift and you have insufficient core stability, you can quickly injure yourself.
Weightlifting belt - when to use it?
If your technique and tension building is correct, you can effectively benefit from a weightlifting belt. It improves your performance and allows you to lift more weight in a controlled way. Thus, it is also suitable for training periodization when focusing on the main lifts(in this case, Squat and Deadlift).
You can set an even stronger stimulus and increase your muscle growth. It's also a useful tool when you want to aim to break through plateaus. It supports your core stability and protects your spine from injury.
Contrary to myth, the belt doesn't weaken your core. It provides haptic feedback, which helps your abs work better. You actively breathe against the belt during squats.
The abdominal muscles contract strongly and press against the belt. So they are involved in the movement as if you were exercising without a belt.
You can effectively use a weightlifting belt as an advanced lifter. It helps you set new stimuli and accelerate your muscle growth.
The belt helps you stabilize your trunk even with heavy weights and protects your spine from injuries. In addition, you can increase your strength levels with its help.
However, you should not use it if:
- your technique is immature!
- you want to compensate for a lack of core stability!
- you want to compensate for pain in the area of the spine!
You should only use a weightlifting belt for exercises that put a lot of stress on your spine.
In addition, you should only use the belt when the intensity of your exercises requires it.