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Lifting belt? The why and how

Do you need a lifting belt? The short answer is if you are utilising compound lifts in your training that require trunk rigidity then yes! If you are lifting using machines or pushing submaxim loads, then you most likely won’t need to use a lifting belt in your training.

So, you fall into the first category, why would you need to wear a belt? Well, the belt will help increase intra-abdominal pressure, this increase in pressure will help to further stabilise your core which will intern allow for better force production through your trunk.

Think on a deadlift, the force you put into the ground needs to travel through your body, down through your arms and into the barbell for the barbell to move. Any amount of force that is leaked along the way will result in less weight lifted on the bar. Now one of the most common ways for force to leak is through the core, this can be seen through the rounding of the lower back when deadlifting. Not only is this inefficient it also greatly increases your chances of injury.

The most common error when putting it on a belt is to wear it super tight, this seems like common sense as you will get that feeling of being “locked in” but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, having your belt done up so tight is going to greatly impact your ability to brace your core musculature properly (if you don’t know how to brace your core, I would strongly recommend you learn how to do this first before using a belt). This is because when you brace your core you need to be able to expand it in a 360-degree fashion. Having the belt too tight won’t allow for this expansion, which will cause a weak brace and worse a false sense of security.

The correct way to wear a belt is to have it loose enough that you can actively brace into the belt. The belt will give you something to push out against and this action of having something rigid to push out against will allow you to brace harder than without the belt.

A lifting belt when used correctly is a great tool that can help you get more out of your lifts!

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