Why Use a Weight Lifting Belt?

Man performing the squat exercise

There are few professional weightlifters, if any, that don’t use a weight lifting belt when they are training and competing.  With these kinds of athletes, it may seem that their usage of the belts is all the assurance that you need for their necessity.  However, there is more to a weight lifting belt than just buying it and putting it on when you workout.

What does the weight lifting belt do?

A weight lifting belt is used as a protective measure for the body as you lift extremely heavy weights. It is designed to protect your back from hyper extending by pushing in your core muscles and allowing them to work for efficiently throughout a movement.

The belt itself will sit on the lower back and the upper part will sometimes rest on the upper thighs during squat like movements. When the weight lifting belt is sitting on the thighs, the lifter is reminded to keep their back straighter in order to avoid this.

Another great benefit of a weight lifting belt is its ability to reduce the effects of spinal compression with repeated heavy movements. Because the belt allows the spine to remain in a lengthened position, the spine does not slowly compress like it would without the protection.

There are belts that sometimes have a larger area in the back, with a smaller band in the front to further support the back for upwards lifting which can sometimes result in bending too far back – but with the larger piece of material, this is all but impossible.

What is the proper usage of the weight lifting belt?

The thing that you need to remember with the weight lifting belt is that it’s not necessary for lighter lifting, though it can still help you maintain proper form. When you lift lighter weights, your body can generally readjust itself when things go badly, while with heavier weights, you might not be able to correct the mistake by yourself.

The weight lifting belt should be tightened securely around the lower abdomen, tight enough so that the weight lifter can feel it pushing in the insides of the abdomen.  All in all, this is not a comfortable experience, but neither is an injury that you might have without the belt.

However, the weight lifting belt should not be worn for an extended period of time. Aside from not being all that comfortable, the weight lifting belt can actually start to raise the blood pressure in the person that is wearing it – and that’s never a good thing to do.

Another concern is that the more that you wear the belt; the more you will not be using your abdominal muscles to support yourself. You need to make sure that your abdomen is still strong throughout your training.

When should you use a weight lifting belt?

The main use of a weight lifting belt is during competition and during training where you are lifting extremely heavy weights. However, overall, it should be used sparingly and not as a substitute for strong core muscles.

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