Is it necessary to use a weightlifting belt during strength training? Will it prevent injuries or help lift more weight?
Why do we use weightlifting belts in bodybuilding?
Belts in bodybuilding came from weightlifting and powerlifting, where the athlete’s task is to show maximum strength in one repetition of the competitive movement. The belt of a weightlifter and a bodybuilder is narrower in front than in the back, to facilitate the forward bending of the body. Powerlifters have the same width over the entire length and are designed for strength exercises with a straight body and are used in deadlifts and squats.
The science behind weightlifting belt
How can the weightlifting belt reduce the risk of injury in the lumbar spine? The study found that using the belt when performing exercises with maximum effort significantly increases the support of the extensor spine due to intra-abdominal pressure.
In other words, the increase in pressure in the abdomen created by a tightened belt additionally stabilizes the lumbar spine, which in theory should reduce the risk of injuries, but in practice, we just take more weight, while maintaining the risk of injuries at the same level.
Hope that the meaning is clear. Without a belt, we can squat 150 kg per 10 reps and 160 per 10 with a belt. As a result, the probability of injury remains at the same level, but at the same time, the return on training in terms of muscle hypertrophy will increase.
Myths around weightlifting belt
Stories about atrophy of the muscles of the stabilizers of the spine with frequent use of the belt are not true, and this is confirmed by the powerlifters who use the belt both in training and in competitions. Well, muscles cannot atrophy from 2-3 hours of wearing a belt per week, if you don’t wear it for the remaining 100 hours, so do not listen to sofa experts. ⠀
The belt helps bodybuilders to overcome weight by about 7-10% more than without it in the range of 6-8 reps in squats and deadlifts.
We recommend wearing it when doing deadlifts, squats, bent-over rowing, and army presses without a backrest, starting with a weight of about 80% of the intended working, i.e., before one set to the main one.
Additionally, see what the cons of wearing wrist straps while training are.
What is more, why not read about the fact that exercises at home are as effective as in the gym?