These days they're a common sight to see in gyms. From crossfit boxes, big chain gyms and liesure centres to bodybuilding gyms. So why do we use them
First off, a weight belt is not there to protect you. It's not a back support and it won't keep you from damaging your spine if you're lifting with bad form. The only thing that keeps you safe is lifting with good form. While weight belts definitely provide a great service in the world of weightlifting and powerlifting, what about athletes weight-training specifically for their sport? Should all athletes use weight belts while lifting—or can a weight belt actually cause more harm than good?
THE CASE FOR BELTS
Before we discuss how weight belts can help athletes in the weight room, we first have to know what wearing a weight belt actually does for the lifter. The purpose of a weight belt is to allow the lifter to create more overall tension through the midsection than is possible without a belt. This tension increases the stability of the spine/core and allows for even more force to be produced than without a belt, which can result in more weight being lifted. Wearing a weight belt at the right time, for the right lifts, can make you stronger than if you didn’t wear a belt. Belts are a great tool for maximal attempt lifts. They not only allow the abdominals to push against something in order to create more internal pressure, but they also provide a mental feeling of increased tightness through the midsection. The psychological boost can come in handy, especially when attempting to max out your back squat.
A personal rule I follow when it comes to belts and heavy attempts is to limit the use of a weight belt to lifts at 80% or higher of my 1RM. If possible, I save the belt for even higher attempts, in order to maximize my body’s ability to stabilize my spine/core. However in saying this I am only talking about using the belt within a small amount of movements ( squat,deadlift, bar rows and over head pressing) using a. Let for lateral raises and bicep curls I find riflduclous and you obviously aren't squeezing the right muscles
THE CASE AGAINST BELTS
The problem with weight belts isn’t the belt itself, but rather improper use of the belt. For the great majority of your training, a weight belt simply isn’t necessary: belts are primarily used in squats, presses, and deadlifts(as just mentioned) And even then, wearing a belt is still based on your personal preference and comfort in those lifts. While lifting with a belt can be beneficial for certain lifts, training too often with a belt—or, more accurately, training with a belt when you don’t need a belt—can actually be detrimental to your performance.
A huge reason free-weight-based compound movements are so effective as training modalities is that they force the body to brace itself under load. Maintaining stability through the trunk improves the transfer of force through the entire body, improves trunk control, and supports the spine—making you a better, more efficient, and safer lifter. But wearing a weight belt too often, or for movements where it’s not needed, artificially provides tension to the torso and can impede an lifters ability to naturally strengthen the core. It is crucial for an lifter to know how to brace their core and keep a neutral spine BEFORE introducing a belt as a training too. This is to prevent what is call faulty recruitment patterns during the lift and also outside of the gym (Think lifting boxes, furniture and kids). Therefore, the novice lifter has little to no use for a belt. Intermediate and advanced lifters with a few years of training under their belt can use a weight belt to help them progress in strength without detriments to their ability to brace the core.