ARE YOU READY TO WEAR A WEIGHTLIFTING BELT?
Look around your gym…
Or just picture it if you’re like me and currently in front of your phone or computer.
What do you notice??
Maybe you see Steve who always skips leg day trying to flirt with Kate who clearly doesn’t care what he has to say because she’s trying to workout.
Maybe it’s Curt in the corner grunting to the beat of another Metallica song which is blasting so obnoxiously loud out of his headphones that the entire gym can hear it while he’s using the pec fly machine.
Or maybe you notice Jess trying to perfect her “booty pop” while taking a selfie in the mirror of the empty group studio room while Steve is staring at her while doing preacher curls between sets of talking to Kate.
Ok maybe you’re not picturing this exactly, but you get my point.
Gyms Can Be A Strange Place.
Anyways do you know what a lot of these people may have in common??
Nope, it’s not just the fact they’re taking up valuable space at your gym.
It’s that they are all wearing a weightlifting belt.
Envision yourself in your gym again. You’ll see a bunch of members wearing a belt that may have no idea why they have a belt on.
Sure they may say something like “I have back pain” or “it keeps my back steady on deadlifts”, but the truth is 9 times out of 10 they shouldn’t be wearing a belt.
I’ll tell you why.
A weightlifting belt (as the name suggests) is for weightlifting (and because many associate olympic lifting with weightlifting, I’ll add Functional Fitness, powerlifting and bodybuilding to the mix).
So let’s go all the way back to the beginning for one really, really quick second to recall what a weight belt does:
1. Increases abdominal pressure
2. Provides a sense of touch to the skin and muscles underneath the belt.
That’s it. Literally. Nothing else. That’s science. #science. Did I say that right?
Abdominal pressure creates stability. Sense of touch and the pressure of a tight belt tells your brain it’s safe. Remember the brain controls EVERYTHING.
Now let’s return to why weightlifters wear a belt.
Well you guessed it: to increase stability and feel “safe.” So when that clean and jerk is performed and 300 lbs are on the bar, that lifter has just enough support from the belt to increase that abdominal pressure which supports the spine while telling the brain it’s safe giving that lifter more confidence at the same time.
Ok so you may ask why can a weightlifter wear a belt and Steve (the guy who skips leg day) shouldn’t?
That answer is simple. Because the weightlifter (assuming optimal form) moves well and practices heavy lifts involving the entire body while Steve is trying to flirt with Kate doing curls.
READ THIS. If there is one take-home point, HERE it is:
IF YOU MOVE WELL AND HAVE MASTERED YOUR SQUAT, DEADLIFT, AND OTHER BASIC COMPOUND LIFTS WITHOUT A BELT; AND YOU HAVE STARTED TO LOAD THOSE MOVEMENTS; THEN YOU ARE READY FOR A BELT.
A belt is meant to help support your lifts, not fix them. Therefore, if you have back pain, sciatica, disc issues, muscles spasms, SI joint issues, whatever…. Address those concerns first then when you’re moving weight with minimal to no pain/symptoms, you can throw that belt on and absolutely crush it in the gym.
PS. Please stop wearing a belt if you’re doing pec flys like Curt grunting to the beat of a Metallica song.
If you are ready for a belt, check out our self-locking weightlifting belts that I helped design, test, and improve. I'll leave the details of why I designed it the way it is and why I believe it's the best belt on the market for most lifters to another post. Check it out here.
Now let’s go get some PRs!
Dr. Phil Gauthier
Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Co-Founder of Element 26
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