Gym Equipment Part 1: Lifting Belts
Do you need one? Good question but first, what are they actually for?
I'd say most people think that a lifting belt is for protecting your lower back. Or something like that.
In reality they are supposed to be used to give you 'core' something to push against, providing you with more Intra-Abdominal Pressure, or IAP, which in turn will give you more stability thought your upper body when you're performing heavy lifts.
In this way it does protect your lower back but this is not through the function of the belt. This is because your core is performing its job correctly.
The problem comes when trainees who don't know how to use and activate their core properly just strap a belt around their waist (usually in the wrong position) and get to lifting some heavy deadlifts off the floor.
In this situation the belt is doing more work that you are and this could end up being worse for your spinal health in the long run as you won't learn how to activate you core during even minor lifts. This is where you see people wearing lifting belts for biceps curls, lat pull down and other accessory work. Not using a belt properly could potentially cause your core to become 'lazy' and actually less effective!
So, my recommendation, you should use one if:
a) You know how to active and utilise your core already and you're technique in your chosen lifts is already very good.
b) You're starting to shift some serious tin. You do not need a belt to move anything under your bodyweight in the Squat, Bench and Deadlift and even then you shouldn't need one until you start to get to around 125-150% of your bodyweight in the Squat and Deadlift.
c) You're interested in Powerlifting. If you're looking to get seriously strong, a quality strength training program plus the use of a belt will see the amount you lift skyrocket. If you're thinking about competing, then you'll be using one of these on game day so it would be wise to practice using one in the build up to a comp.
So there you have it, a quick how and why to use a lifting belt. Keep an eye out for part 2 and 3 coming soon, the next part will be Lifting Gloves and if you need them.
If you need advice or help getting your training and equipment right in the gym, drop me an email or get in contact across any social media and let's get you on the right track!