Weightlifting belts have always been a hot topic in the iron world. Some believe they are a crutch whereas others see them as a useful addition to the safety measures that a lifter should take.
The main argument of those against is that the belt makes up for a weak core. Those who support belt use disagree and actually claim that the belt builds a stronger core because the abs have something to push against.
Are weightlifting belts really a crutch?
If you don’t feel safe when you lift without a belt, it already is a crutch. However, I think that people get too caught up in the term “crutch”. In this life, everything can be considered a crutch, even your shoes.
In general, people should avoid belts unless they absolutely need them. Yet I don’t consider belts cheating. It’s just another element that can provide comfort during lifting. Nothing more.
Weightlifting Belts Help You Lift More Weight
It would be naive to deny that belts result in heavier poundages. Nobody puts on a belt because it makes you feel weaker.
The belt allows you to lift heavier by providing the following benefits:
– mental support
The placebo effect is a powerful thing. When you put on the belt and zip it tight, you immediately feel stronger. The belt adds confidence that translates to more weight on the bar.
– back support
The belt reduces the stress on the lower back. If you are injured, that’s great, but if you are using the belt to look cool, you are depriving your lower back of the training stimulus it needs to get stronger.
– bouncing off the hip flexors
At the bottom of the squat, the belt clashes against the hip flexors. This creates a rebound effect and increases the tension during that phase. The result is more weight on the bar.
– feedback on the back position
The spine should not round during exercises like squats. The belt provides an opportunity to monitor your alignment. As soon as the back rounds, the contact with the belt will feel different.
– warmer waist
The belt keeps your lower back and waist warm. This is also beneficial and may help you avoid injuries…or a cold.
They told me that if I push hard against the belt, my core will get stronger faster than if I train beltless. Is this true?
Think for a second. A regular powerlifting belt is about 4-6 inches wide. This results in a significant support. On the other hand, when you’re “naked”, all the work is done by your body. There is no outside support.
According to the advocates of the belt, a man who puts on his belt only for work sets will get stronger faster than a man who never uses one. The idea is that lifting with a belt will get you to a point where your warm-ups are brushing numbers that would otherwise require more time.
Honestly, this is nitpicking and a way to justify the implementation of a belt. In the long run, the numbers won’t be that different.
When should I use a weightlifting belt?
If you are a healthy recreational lifter, there’s no need to complicate your life with a belt. However, if you are injured or a professional whose rank depends on 20lbs, adding a belt seems reasonable.