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’m also going to add Crossfit, 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.
Simply put, a weight lifting belt:
- Increases abdominal pressure
- 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. That’s a very generalistic approach here, but it’ll work!
Now let’s return to why weightlifters wear a belt.
Well you guessed it: to increase stability and feel “safe.” So when a clean and jerk is performed at 300 lbs, a given lifter has enough support from the belt to increase their abdominal pressure supporting the spine while telling the brain it’s safe. All together that’s giving the lifter more confidence and strength.
Ok so you may ask why can a weightlifter wear a belt, but 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 does not lift heavy enough nor have the proper motor control to even carry out a proper deadlift/squat.
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.
And side note, please stop wearing a belt if you’re doing pec flys like Curt grunting to the beat of a Metallica song. Metallica is cool, but the pec flys and grunting take it a bit overboard.
Now let’s go hit some PRs!
Oh and when you're ready, make sure to grab your Element 26 Self-Locking Weight Lifting Belt by visiting the link below!!
Written by: Phil Gauthier
Phil is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.
He is also an Owner and Co-Founder of the performance gear company, Element 26 (E26).
E26 prides itself on developing functional gear for the functional athlete to help you "Destroy Your PR's, Not Your Body."
To reach Phil or any member of the Element 26 Staff, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond to you ASAP!