When is the Right Time to Start Wearing a Weightlifting Belt?Strength Training 4 min Read
A friend from high school asked this question recently. I sent her a short response, and I promised to…
You may see all the big-time lifters at your gym wearing a weightlifting belt.
You may even be using one yourself.
But how exactly does it work?
Let’s dive in.
To better understand how a belt works we have to take a look at the core. The images above show the rectus abdominis (left), the obliques (A and B), and transverse abdominis (C).
The rectus abdominis is normally the muscle you use when someone says “squeeze your abs”. But our natural “belt” comes from the obliques and transverse abdominis.
These are the muscles we want to think about when lifting weights and wearing a belt. Using a belt properly will help reinforce this bracing pattern and work with your core.
Since a belt fits tightly between your rib cage and hips, it is an external addition to your core.
Below is a video that demonstrates how to use a weightlifting belt properly.
A belt works primarily by increasing the pressure on your abdomen when lifting.
This pressure transfers to and supports your spine (see the arrows in the image to the right) throughout a big compound lift like a squat or deadlift.
This increases intra-abdominal pressure (pressure within your belly) higher than you ever could by just contracting your core.
The more rigid your spine and torso is during a lift the better your performance will be.
If you’re using a belt properly you will be flexing your rectus abdominis hard and pressing outward into the belt through your obliques. The belt can create a slight increase in activation of the rectus abdominis muscles and the erector spinae.
But realize that all your core musculature will be contracting hard if you are lifting heavy weights.
There’s something about having a tight belt wrapped around your core that gives you a little more reassurance going into a huge lift. This small increase can be the difference between pushing past a sticking point or failing a rep.
Mental confidence can go a long way when lifting heavy.
There hasn’t been a client that I’ve trained that hasn’t benefited from throwing on a belt in a heavier lift.
You can just lift more weight. I’m not talking about 100 lbs more. But a belt will help add another 5-15 lbs on a squat or deadlift if used properly.
More weight lifted (safely and with proper form) means more gains made in the gym.
If you have been lifting for some time and have never used a belt read this to see if you’re ready to wear one and hit some new PR’s.
If you want to make the most out of using a belt a strong core is mandatory. Download our free Serious Guide to Core TrainingDownload The Serious Guide to Core Training