5 Things You Need to Know About Lifting Belts - By Anna Brown
5 Things You Need to Know About Lifting Belts
If you’re trying to get stronger, and you’re doing it right, you will be working at an intensity or with a volume that is challenging you in the gym. You might already wear a belt or you might be thinking of getting one because lifting is hard and scary and mostly because it's heavy as fuck! Assuming that no one want to get injured, you'll want to look into using any support you can to make safe progress. Lifting equipment like knee sleeves, wrist wraps and belts can offer some protection against injury.
This article will take you through everything you need to know about choosing and using a lifting belt.
1. Why do you need to wear a belt when you are strength training?
Fundamentally, we need to understand the actual purpose of using a belt for lifting. While knee sleeves and wrist wraps provide you with warmth and passive support, a belt is different. The purpose of a belt is not to hold your guts in, to brace you, or to stabilize you. A lifting belt is a tool for you to use in order to learn to brace yourself. It’s something to breathe and brace INTO. Because of this, the first thing you need to know is that a lifting belt helps you learn and practice how to brace correctly. Once you know how to brace, you will use the same technique with or without a belt and you should use it for every lift.
The aim with bracing is to provide your spine with the maximum amount of support. You should not be aiming for a “bearing down” feeling when bracing…you're not doing a poo, you're not giving birth…bracing like that leads to all kinds of problems. Something will give under load (either in your back bum or your front bum). So how do you brace? Try this.
Lie on your back with your feet against a wall in your squat stance. Breathe in through your nose, into your belly, into your lower back filling the cavity until your back is flat to the floor, continue to breathe into your chest, your upper back and finally your neck so that you head and spine are “neutral” and flat on the floor.
NOSE BELLY LOW BACK CHEST UPPER BACK NECK
I’ve had this sequence on a post it note, stuck on my computer for three years. This shit is important.
There are many different ways to practice the bracing techniques. I would also recommend the deadbug and I would recommend adding bracing drills to the start of every single session you have in the gym.
Once you’re down with the bracing technique…You can start shopping around for a belt.
3. What kind of belt should I get?
You need to know what is it for. If you only need the belt for training, then your choice basically comes down to personal preference. The only occasion where it gets more complicated than that is if you plan to at any stage lift with the powerlifting federation IPF (the only drug tested lifting federation available in Australia). The IPF has a list of approved equipment suppliers which is available on their website.
You can compete in all of the other Australian lifting federations wearing any belt that you like.
I would recommend going to a gym with a lot of lifters, asking them what they use and can you try it on? .
At the moment I am using and can recommend this simple leather belt as a great all round belt. I use it in training and although I rarely compete, I have used it to hit multiple 1RM PRs in the gym.
4. How tight should your belt be?
Remember – the purpose of the belt is to brace INTO it. You can test the fit of your belt by putting it on and exhaling hard. You should be able to place two fingers into the back of the of the belt. Then Brace into the belt (as you’ve been practicing), you should feel your torso fill out into the belt and put solid pressure into your fingers. This pressure is something you need to practice so that you can apply it throughout the full lift. This pressure means that you are using the belt in order to correctly brace your spine.
5. When should I wear my lifting belt?
I don’t use a belt to train the majority of my volume and I keep it off for anything under 80% of my 1RM. This is across the board. I would not use it for any high rep work like a WOD. If I am working to a maximum single or a heavy set, I would put it on when I get to a weight of around 80%. People are different. Do what feels right.
We are strength training. We want to get stronger and there is literally no point training to achieve a weakness of any kind. Don’t start bad habits. Right the wrongs, learn to brace, use your belt properly and nail all of the lifts.
Although we here at TBC sport a lavish lifestyle, amazingly - we are not sponsored by anyone…If you use a belt that is awesome, have your say and post about it on our Barbelle Club closed Facebook Group, cause that’s where we like to talk about all this shiz <3