Sometimes the things I’ve heard people say in relation to lifting weights are amongst the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard (and I recently joined a flat earth group on facebook).
Amongst the ridiculous things I’ve heard in person about wearing a belt are
- You shouldn’t wear a belt, they make your abs lazy
- I wear a belt for every exercise so I don’t hurt my back
- If I wear a belt will it make my waist smaller? ( I wish that one was a joke)
- Is that just a waist trainer for when you lift weights (again…unfortunately not a joke)
These questions and statements just come from a complete lack of understanding about what a belt is actually used for. So I’m about to drop some education bombs on y’all.
So what does a belt actually do?
In short, a belt is a tool that is used to increase the amount of intra abdominal pressure you can create during a lift, stabilising your trunk and allowing a more solid base when you’re lifting heavy loads.
So if you didn’t understand any of that…the belt is there for you to push your stomach out against so that you’re abs go tight and keep your torso rigid. This lets you stay in better positions once weight gets heavy.
The belt is used to brace into, you take a big breath into your gut and push your stomach out against the belt, this increases internal pressure and stops the bar bending you over and having a crack at you with no lube.
Think of a can of coke, before you pop that top open I’m gonna put money on it that you couldn’t crush that can with your hands. Now, pop the cap, let that internal pressure out, now you can dent, or even crush that can. The unpopped can is you when you’ve braced hard against a belt. The popped can is you with no bracing and no belt…you’re gonna get crushed eventually.
The belt is not passive
Lifting equipment can be split into two categories. Passive and active.
Passive equipment is supportive equipment that’s you wear but you don’t really have to do anything with, they just sit there and give you some support (like a mum at an underage football game). Think wristwraps and knee sleeves.
Active equipment is something that you need to use properly to get any benefit from (think of your girlfriend when she’s in a bad mood, treat her properly and you’ll get some benefits from her, otherwise she’s just gonna sit there all moody and you’ll get nothing from her). Belts are ACTIVE. This means that just putting the belt on isn’t enough to get anything out of it. You have to actively force your stomach out against the belt in order for it to do anything. (don’t try just forcing your belly out against your grumpy girlfriend. She’ll more than likely not appreciate that.)
Why use a belt?
Belts have a very specific use and using it for anything else is both stupid and unnecessary. Belts should be used in lifting when there are compressive forces acting on your spine and you need to brace your “core” (god i hate that term) as hard as possible.
Heavy squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, cleans, snatches etc. Some people wear one when they’re benching, others don’t, no biggie.
If you wear your belt for EVERYTHING (I’ve seen people wear them for lat pull downs and bicep curls) then you completely misunderstand the point of a belt and you’d be better off spending your money on something else.
Belts help you protect your back…but not in the way you think.
People throw belts on and suddenly think their back is indestructible because the belt will support it. The belt on it’s on supports f**k all.
Your belt will help protect your back by allowing you to brace your abs hard, the role of your abs is to minimise spinal movement (not to attract members of the opposite sex, that’s just a happy by product). So the belt protects your back by allowing you to use your abs more effectively.
It won’t make your abs lazy…anybody that says it does just doesn’t understand what a belt actually does.
There’s no point using a belt if you don’t know how to properly brace your abs first. So before dropping €200 on an expensive belt take the time and learn how to brace properly first.