You should wear a weightlifting belt when there is a heavy load on your spine, for example barbell lifts including squats and deadlifts, and during various Olympic lifts.
Why should I buy a weightlifting belt?
To protect the spine when it is under a heavy load of course! It is not the belt that is supplying the extra support though, it is actually the way the body reacts to the belt that supplies the spinal support. The belt helps support the spine so you can take on heavier loads.
A belt can also improve muscle growth in the long term, as studies have shown wearing a belt during exercises such as squats increases the muscle activity of the quads and hamstrings, which promotes muscle growth.
It can also improve body biomechanics, as wearing a belt forces you to be lifting more with your legs than your back. Spinal flexion and extension is reduced, whilst flexion of the knees and hips is increased.
How tight should a weightlifting belt be?
The point of a weightlifting belt is to provide support and stability to your spine, and to increase intra-abdominal pressure. To do this, you need to contract your abs against the belt, so as a rule of thumb, wear it one notch looser than the tightest it could fit on you. If you can fit your hand between the belt and your stomach, you should be good to go.
Is a weightlifting belt necessary?
There is certainly no need to be wearing a belt all the time when you work out, but when the spine is under a heavy load, then we’d say yes! You want to prevent injury and increase the stability of the spine, and a belt is a fantastic tool to help with this.
Where do I position the belt?
Wherever it is comfortable is the best way to answer this question! You don’t want the belt to be forced into your hips or under your ribcage, so wear it in a position where it provides comfort, support, and allows you to create the right amount of pressure against it. Don’t fasten it as tight as can be, you’ll be incredibly uncomfortable, and won’t get the benefit from it.
What benefits will I get from wearing a weightlifting belt?
A stabilised spine and solid core
Better body biomechanics
Prevention of injury
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