The weightlifting belt. When do I wear a weightlifting belt? Should I wear a weightlifting belt? How do I wear a weightlifting belt? Have you heard wearing a weightlifting belt weakens your core? So many questions and stigmas with a weightlifting belt. I am going to attempt to answer all of your questions and try my best not to offend anyone in the process.
My Weightlifting Belt Theory
A majority of the people that I hear say that belts are not useful are generally more concerned with their biceps in the mirror that they are with getting stronger. Here is my theory. If you want to be or do something, you must mimic or do what the successful individuals do. Want to be rich? Do what rich people do. Want to be fast? Do what fast people do. Want to be strong? Do what strong people do. Strong people wear belts.
Now Let’s Answer Some Questions
What a Belt is NOT.
- This is where we must start before we get to the questions. A belt is not an excuse to lift weight you normally wouldn’t. A belt will not make up for terrible form. A belt is not to be used for every lift and every rep of every workout.
Should I wear one?
- Do you calculate your lifts based off of percentages? Do you squat and deadlift regularly? Do you kinda think you should be wearing a belt? If you answered yes, then YES wear a belt….But know this… A lot of people wear belts for their lower backs. That is not exactly what they are designed for. They are designed for the abdominals. They are designed to make you a better lifter, and not as much for lower back protection. The valero belt you got from Academy is not what I am talking about. I don’t know what those belts do. I am talking about a real weight lifting belt.
When do I wear one?
- This comes down to personal preference. The general rule I say is 65% to 85% of your 1 rep max. That is “in general” I don’t normally put a belt on till I get around the 75% mark. After lifting for awhile you will realize when a belt will be beneficial and when it is unnecessary.
How do I wear one?
- Do not wear a weightlifting belt around your hips. I saw a guy wearing a belt once around his hips while curling. I thought I was dreaming, got angry, then started a garage gym. You wear the belt around your lower back and over your front abdominals. It should be pretty tight, but to use it properly you are not going to want it to be as tight as humanly possible. But you want it pretty tight.
Is it bad for my core?
- Yes. There. All of those reading who were about to tell me that belts are bad for your core…HA! If you wear a belt all the time for all of your lifts you are not allowing your core to function how it would without a belt. So it could weaken your core IF and ONLY IF you wear a belt like it is a tattoo for the entire duration of every workout. If you wear a belt how it is SUPPOSE to be used. No, it is not bad for your core.
How do I use one?
- The most important question. Like I said earlier, the belt is more for abdominals than it is lower back. You should take a deep breath and push your abdominals against the belt and tighten your core. Intra abdominal pressure (IAP) will save your lower back and help with the heavy lifts. Also, this is what will fully tighten the belt around your body. However, a lot of pro weightlifters are going to tell you to do the valsalva maneuver. While it is a great technique, I don’t want to be a huge advocate of holding your breath while working out. Tighten and press. As long as you are breathing after every rep you should be good. How and when to use a belt comes down to a lot of practice and technique. I recommend practicing as much as you can before you begin fully using a belt on the extremely heavy loads.