People use a weightlifting belt in the gym when performing exercises such as squatting or deadlifting. You may have brought one or be thinking of buying one, but it is important to know how to use the belt correctly to help get the best out of your lift.
The most common fault is to just put it on as tight as physically possible as if you are wearing an 18th century corset. Some people wear the belt for their whole workout and some just for their maximum lifts in training. While some do not ever use one because they say their back and core is strong enough to not need one. But who is in the right?
The use of the belt comes when you actively pressurise into it to create extra stability for your back. If we are squatting and get under the bar it is crucial to take a big breath and brace our core to stop the bar from bending us over. Doing this will increase the pressure inside your abdominal cavity against the structures surrounding it so creating an increase in intra abdominal pressure. The weightlifting belt is an extra layer to help pressurise against to increase intra-abdominal pressure.
The way to think of this is to think of your abdominal cavity like a balloon. When you blow it up the pressure inside the balloon increases. If you put a bit of tape around the balloon to act as your core muscles and blow up the balloon, the balloon can only get to a certain diameter and then the pressure inside the balloon will increase against the tape. The weightlifting belt is similar to if you put a piece of gaffer tape around the balloon as well as the normal tape. Then if you blow the balloon up there is even more tension around the balloon and therefore the pressure inside can rise even more. Research shows that you can increase intra-abdominal pressure by 20-40% when wearing a belt in a heavy squat. But it is not enough to just wear the belt tight. The key is to breathe into the entire circumference of the belt and then pressurise against it.
So a belt combined with a correctly braced core is better than no belt foo increasing intraabdomincal pressure but it does not replace our core muscles.
So we know wearing a belt and pressuring against it correctly can help our lifts but one of the important things to not rely on the belt all the time.
It is crucial to lift without the belt for lighter weights so your body does not become reliant on the belt. It is merely a training aid but not a training necessity. Some lifters do not use a belt even for their max attempts but if you are going to wear a belt it is important to use it in the right way and not become reliant on it.
If you are training for a max lift or are a regular gym-goer and want some advice and treatment contact the clinic today on 0578678904, direct message us on Facebook or book now.
Yours in Health
The Lawlor Clinic: Spine & Sport, Portlaoise, Laois