Find out the expert's opinion about the benefits of a weightlifting belt, how to choose a good power belt, and how to properly wear it.
Author: Greg Nakols
"To be a power belt or not to be," Shakespeare would ask if he were writing his works today, not 400 years ago. At a certain stage of the railroad, every serious weightlifter asks himself this question.
For the answer you addressed to the address. I will go through the most common questions about powerlifting belts, and by the end of the article you can take a weighted decision, you need this element of equipment or not.
Plus, you will get an extra score for learning to correctly use the athletic belt and not pacing around the room with a bombastic look and a useless belt on your stomach.
Now let's get to the point. Decide on the need for a power belt – a couple of trifles, as soon as you understand what to do with it.
Who should – and should not – wear a belt?
Heavy belt is needed for almost everyone who wants to squat or perform deadlift with the maximum possible weight. Quite simply.
Who should not wear a belt? Answer this question in two words will not succeed. Do not wear a belt if you:
- Do not use the belt if you feel that it hinders your movements. If the belt affects how deeply you descend before rising to the chest or jerking the bar, you better develop power indicators without it. In powerlifting, those who fall below are usually victorious.
How does the weightlifting belt work?
The belt wraps around the abdomen, so that when you take a deep breath with the diaphragm (that is, inhale with the stomach), the belt limits the widening of the anterior abdominal wall. This restriction intentionally raises intra-abdominal pressure, which in turn increases the fixation of the spine.
Reinforced fixation affects how much the main muscles, for example, the legs and pelvic muscles in squats, can shrink. In the usual situation, the nervous system is not enthusiastic about the idea of damaging the spinal cord, and when it feels that the back is in danger, it does not allow the muscles of the legs and pelvic region to contract at the limit of possibilities. I think everyone will agree that it's good.
With a similar technique, the strap allows the main muscles to contract more. Moreover, various studies show that the use of the belt helps to quickly overcome the dead center in squats, lift heavy weights at a higher average speed, actively connect the quadriceps at the dead center of squatting, and use the muscles of the hamstrings more effectively as you fatigue during the approach.
In effect, a combination of these factors will help you lift a slightly heavier weight and activate more muscle fibers, which means you will get the best training effect.
In addition, lifting weights with a belt should theoretically reduce the risk of injuries in the gym, although I do not know of any research devoted directly to studying this issue. The Ethics Council is not so mad as to allow scientists to intentionally cause a herniated intervertebral disc in the name of science. At least, it has been proven that the belt reduces the risk of re-injury.
Can training with the waist loosen the muscles of the trunk?
A common scarecrow, which is almost ungrounded.
Wearing a belt during exercises such as squats and deadlifts does not greatly affect the activation of the straight and outer oblique muscles of the abdomen. Most studies indicate a slight increase in their activation; a few studies indicate a very slight decrease. In general, the difference is probably not large enough to be considered relevant, for two reasons:
- It is almost impossible to assess the degree of activation of the deep muscles of the trunk, for example, the transverse abdominal muscle and the internal oblique muscle during training with the belt. There may be differences that are not visible to us.
If we look at training the muscles of the trunk at a wider angle, this is not a problem at all. In comparison with specific exercises, such as the bar, twists and lifts of the legs in the vise, neither squats nor deadlift pull these muscles sufficiently.
Comparing squats and standing cravings with a belt and without a belt in terms of developing the muscles of the body is like comparing the effect of raising dumbbells on the biceps while sitting and standing on the development of quadriceps. The difference is so small that you should not worry about it – unless you completely ignore the specific exercises for the muscles of the body.
What should I look for when buying a belt?
A good belt made of durable leather will last for tens of years, so do not be afraid to pay for it 1-3 thousand rubles, especially if you are a powerlifter, bodybuilder or simply enthusiast of strength training.
In most cases, you need to get used to the athletic belt. At first the belt may seem very tough to you, and it will take some time to "develop" it. Prepare for bruises along the upper edge of the hip bone and along the edge of the costal arch until the belt adjusts to you during training.
As a rule, the best belts for squats have a width of 10 centimeters and a thickness of 10-13 mm. Some people notice that the wide belts prevent them from taking a good starting position during the deadlift. If you are a competing powerlifter, the leather belt, tapering from the front (10 cm on the back and 5-7 cm on the abdomen) will solve this problem. Perhaps you'd better buy two belts: one for squats, and the other for a deadlift.
If you do not want to complicate things, it probably makes sense to purchase only a tapering belt. He does his job well in squats, although not so well. And in the traction you will also be accompanied by luck.
Another aspect of the choice is a buckle with one or two prongs. I generally recommend choosing a belt with one tooth for fixation. The double buckle looks cool, but you are tortured to wear and remove such a belt, and in terms of safety it is no better than a single-toothed belt.
Some belts snap into place with the help of a carabiner buckle, thanks to which they can be removed and put on faster. However, many are slightly weaker than the belt in the police station, than in the squats, and will have to spend extra time to adjust the automatic fastener for each exercise.
How to use a weightlifting belt?
The first step is to adjust the belt. Many people wear a belt at the top of the iliac crest (the upper part of the hip bone). During sit-ups, one pulls the belt up (above the navel), others wear at the navel, and the third even lower it down (below the navel). In deadlift, as a rule, the belt runs at the level of the navel or at a slight angle upwards – the angle down can prevent it from taking a good starting position.
Basically, it's more a matter of comfort than anything else. Start with the position that seems most convenient for you. When you learn to use the belt better, play around with its height to see which position gives you the most rigid fixation of the case.
Having worn the belt, you will have to understand how hard it is to tighten it. Tighten the belt as tight as possible, but so that you can draw a full breath in your belly, and then press the abdominal wall against the waistband. You will realize that you tightened the belt too tightly if you can not make a full breath, or if you have to lift your shoulders, because you can not breathe by expanding the abdomen.
On the other hand, if you can make a full breath on one belt slot, and you can still get a full dose of air on the next slot, you might want to choose a tighter option, at least for squats. Again, this is a matter of comfort, but many prefer a slit weaker for deadlift, because it allows you to take a better starting position.