How and Why to use a Weightlifting Belt
Weightlifting Belt Basics
Q: Why do we use belts when lifting weight?
A: Belts are used to support the spine. In order to support our spine we must increase our abdominal pressure (think about bracing for a karate chop in the mid-section). We are able to increase that pressure without a belt, however the belt gives us something to push against and in turn allow us to provide more pressure.
Belts are NOT for your lower back. This is a common misconception. As mentioned above belts help increase abdominal pressure to support the spine and that in turn with proper technique will help keep your lower back safe.
Q: How are belts supposed to be used?
A: Below is the starting place on how to use a belt. Different lifts and different body types will call for different methods for a belt to be used. However this is how to get started using a belt.
1) The belt should be placed around the torso at belly button level.
2) The belt should be tight enough so two fingers can fit between you and the belt. If more fingers can fit it is too loose and if fewer can fit then it is too tight.
3) Brace your torso and push into the belt. Pushing into the belt is where the additional pressure comes from.
4) Lift with proper bracing and technique.
Q: Should I know anything else?
A: Belts should not be used all the time. The use of a belt will build a crutch. Instead of the midline muscles doing the work the belt will over compensate and with extended/overuse the midline will weaken. The belt should only be used for heavy lifts or competing.
Below is a short video showing the above information.