Should You Wear a Weightlifting Belt When You Lift?

Instances When You Should and Should Not Wear a Weightlifting Belt

If you watch or participate in weightlifting, you may have seen these athletes using a weight lifting belt. These belts are designed to give the weightlifter a boost in their overall performance, and some wear them because they believe that a weightlifting belt will keep them safer during their routine. The latter theory has not been proved or disproved as of the writing of this article, as there aren’t many studies specifically targeted at weightlifting belts and injury prevention. You should keep this in mind when you wear a weightlifting belt; it may not prevent injury if you’re not doing something properly.

What Does a Weightlifting Belt Support?

Most people would be surprised to know that a weightlifting belt is meant to support the abs and not the back. Once the belt is in place, it acts as a second set of abs. This, in turn, will help prepare your entire body to lift heavy loads, like your chosen weights. This works by you taking a deep breath in from your belly right before you lift and hold it. This technique is known in the weightlifting world as the Valsalva Maneuver.

When you use this breathing technique, it creates pressure on your inner abdomen, and this is what supports and cushions your spinal column. This is where a weightlifting belt comes in. The belt will magnify you inner abdominal pressure, and this will help you distribute the stress that comes with lifting heavy loads better. This will all work to help protect your back muscles and your spine. A weightlifting belt will increase your lifting power, and it is good for anyone who uses proper technique but wants to lift just a little more, and have more stability in their torso.

However, there is a learning curve that comes with wearing and using a weightlifting belt as well. You won’t get any of these benefits without both proper technique and proper belt use instructions. You’ll also need to learn how to do the Valsalva Maneuver properly, and all of this can take time.

Situations Where You Benefit from a Weightlifting Belt

To put it bluntly, everything comes down to your personal performance goals. If you’ve chosen weightlifting and you’re serious about lifting more and getting stronger, wear a weightlifting belt. Also, if you deadlift and squat regularly and you want to break through a plateau, you may be stuck in, wear a weightlifting belt.

If you’re still not sure, a weightlifter named Greg Nuckols pulled a bunch of studies on the benefits of wearing a weightlifting belt and found that a weightlifter that is well-trained can usually lift 5 to 15 percent more weight when they do their regular workout with a belt on. If you take this data, it is safe to say that if you choose to wear a weightlifting belt, you will most likely get stronger than you would if you train without a belt. This will happen because you will be able to lift more, and longer when you have a weightlifting belt on.

Situations Where Wearing a Belt Could Hurt You

For most people, the benefits of wearing a weightlifting belt are enough incentive for them to wear one. However, there are a few instances where you should probably skip the belt during your weightlifting routine. If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure or an abdominal hernia, you should skip the belt and the Valsalva Maneuver as a belt, and this maneuver can exacerbate these symptoms even more.

If you don’t practice good technique, or if you don’t know how to stabilize your entire body without a belt, skip it. A weightlifting belt doesn’t fix bad form, and you’re more prone to injury. Also, if you don’t know how to stabilize your entire body before a heavy lift, you could end up relying on the belt too much. Once you remove it and lift, you could be setting yourself up for further injury. Finally, if you don’t deadlift, squat, or do a lot of overhead pressing, chances are you won’t need a belt.

Use the Belt as a Training Tool

You should use a weightlifting belt as you would use any other training tool. This means that you don’t wear it constantly. If you pay attention to experienced weightlifters, you will notice that they use it for efforts that are 80 percent of their maximum lift or more. They generally remove it for warm-ups or regular training sessions.

In the end, wearing a weightlifting belt comes down to personal choice. Some people won’t lift without them, and some don’t use them. It also depends on your style of lifting as well. Having good technique is the key to having success when you’re weightlifting, and it may be beneficial to enlist a trainer to help you.

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