Do I need a belt to lift weights?

You are at the gym. You have finished warming up and are preparing for the first exercise of the session. It’s time to put your muscles to the test and get so big you can’t fit through your front door. You put on your headphones and press “play” to the “Ultimate Killer Work Out” playlist. Choose your weight well, drink a sip of water, breathe deeply and… Damn! I’m there! Near the mirrors, in the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe racks. The strongest dudes in the gym doing deadlifts. Those mystical creatures the size of XXL industrial refrigerators that make you feel like it’s costing you to lift weights over 2 kg.

And you wonder: what is the secret of these people who look like updated versions of Ronnie Coleman? You stare at them from head to toe to see if you figure out what to do to get that sculpted body until you finally notice that everyone is wearing a weightlifting belt. Here you are! That must be the secret! The lumbar belt is that accessory that will give you that extra strength with which you will get the physique you’ve never had.

It is impossible to deny it. Powerlifting belts are cool, they fascinate and make people attribute almost magical properties to them. The wearer of the belt has the gym under control, knows how to train and enjoys a physical superiority never seen before. He is the leader of the pack. The king of discs and dumbbells. But let’s get to the heart of the matter. Should you, mere mortal, use a gym belt regardless of your chosen workout? What advantages does it offer? How can you make the most of it?

When is it best to use a powerlifting belt?

Watching a weightlifting contest, you’ll notice that the lifters always wear the same uniform: stiff-soled shoes, overalls, and belt. A large, wide belt.

Some are in rigid nylon, others in natural or synthetic leather. Regardless of the material, they all have one goal: to increase athletes’ intra-abdominal pressure to provide more support to the spine when lifting very heavy loads.

Compared to the dimensions, then, there are those in one size with an adjustable waist or with Velcro. They are both safe and there are brands that offer belts in different sizes. Whatever your choice, if you make the wrong size, it is better to correct it immediately. Wearing the wrong size belt can cause injury and discomfort.

Gym belts are, above all, accessories that offer safety. However, they must be used correctly to fulfill their function, the studies underline. For example, this clinical trial monitored and analyzed various subjects doing belted and unbelted deadlifts, and concluded that belt use helped increase abdominal pressure. This results in a reduction of the impact on the vertebral discs, improving the physical safety of the subjects analysed. A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, on the other hand, analyzed 5 subjects while they performed different weight training exercises with and without a belt. The result, similar to the previous study, indicates that “the belt helps support the trunk and increases intra-abdominal pressure”.

It is therefore clear that the belt helps to give stability to the trunk when we lift weights, and that thanks to the pressure on the abdominal area it helps us to transmit force more effectively. In other words, it can help you do a few more reps or increase the weight a bit. As you may have noticed, science favors the use of the belt in those exercises where the pressure is concentrated on the core. That’s why in the gym you see it used during squats or deadlifts.

If you don’t do any of these exercises, a belt will be just one of the many gym accessories that complete your outfit. Maybe you’ll be welcomed into the group of super muscular adonis, but nothing else will happen. Additionally, studies suggest that while belt use may increase lower back stability when lifting weights, continued use may reduce core muscle engagement, resulting in an increased risk of injury when lifting. you lift loads without support.