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WHAT DOES A WEIGHT LIFTING BELT DO?

Updated: 7 July 2024 

WHAT IS A LIFTING BELT?

 A weightlifting belt is a broad strap worn around the waist during lifting exercises. It's designed to support heavy lifting by stabilizing the core. A weightlifting belt increases intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). When you brace against the belt, it creates a rigid support system for your spine, stabilising your trunk and enabling safer, heavier lifts.

WHY POWERLIFTERS, WEIGHTLIFTERS, AND CROSSFIT ATHLETES USE A LIFTING BELT

Powerlifters, weightlifters, and CrossFit athletes use belts to lift more weight safely. Belts increase IAP by 40%, enhancing core stability and reducing spinal stress (“Effects of a belt on intra-abdominal pressure during weight lifting” – Study by Harman et al., 1989). From my experience, wearing a belt during a 1RM makes me feel more stable and confident to push harder.

ARE LIFTING BELTS NECESSARY? 

For those asking, do you really need a weightlifting belt? Belts are beneficial for heavy lifting but not necessary for everyone. Their necessity depends on your lifting goals and the loads you handle. They are particularly useful for lifts above 80% of your one-rep max (1RM). If you’re aiming for heavy lifts, a belt can be a game-changer. For casual lifters or those focusing on lighter weights, it might not be as crucial. Belts are tools—useful but not indispensable.

WHEN SHOULD YOU START WEARING A LIFTING BELT?

Consider a belt when your lifts are around 1.5 times your body weight. Belts reduce spinal compression by about 10% during lifts at 75% of body weight (“Effect of a stiff lifting belt on spine compression during lifting Study” – Study by Kingma et al, 2006).

BENEFITS OF WEIGHT LIFTING BELTS

1.    Improving Core Stability: Increases Intra-abdominal Pressure: Weightlifting belts improve core stability by increasing IAP. This turns your core into a solid support column, aiding in trunk stabilisation (“Core exercises elevate trunk stability to facilitate skilled motor behaviour of the upper extremities” – Study by Miyamoto et al., 1999).

 

2.    Increases Muscle Engagement in the Erector Spinae (Lower Back): Belts boost muscle engagement in the lower back, increasing IAP and activating the erector spinae muscles. This helps maintain proper lifting form and prevent injuries.

 

3.    Reduce Spinal Stress & May Reduce Risk of Lower Back Injury: Belts may reduce spinal stress, minimising the risk of hyperextension and other spinal injuries. They significantly reduce spinal compression forces (“The effectiveness of weight-belts during multiple repetitions of the squat exercise” – Study by Lander et al., 1992).

 

4.    Improve Lifting Performance: Belts enhance performance by allowing you to handle heavier weights with better form. They improve lifting efficiency by decreasing muscle excitation required for a given load.


RELATED ARTICLE : How to use lifting straps (how to guide)

 

DISADVANTAGES

  • Over-reliance on belts can weaken the natural development of core muscles.
     
  • If you have never used a belt before or choose a stiff belt, they can be uncomfortable and may restrict natural movement, affecting lift technique and overall performance. If it’s your first belt, try using a nylon belt first and adjust the belt so its not too tight. Remember that it’s not about how tight the belt is, it’s about increasing intra-abdominal pressure.

Weightlifting belts increase intra-abdominal pressure, stabilise your core, support your lower back, and enhance lifting performance. While not necessary for everyone, they are invaluable for those pushing heavy weights. Strap up, brace your core, and lift with confidence.

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CONTENT AUTHOR:

Adam B. / Director, Turtle Strength

 

Adam is passionate about powerlifting, strength training and digital marketing. Created Turtle Strength to find the best possible product to meet the needs of training. 

SWEAT. BLOOD & LIFTING GEAR.

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