If you have been to the gym, EVER, you most likely have seen someone wearing a weight belt. They are commonly used when powerlifting or olympic lifting. But when should you wear one? And when should your body act as a weight belt?
Many people wear weight belts for three reasons:
- They have seen other people wearing them and believe that it would be a good idea for them to do so as well.
- They experience low back pain with lifting and believe that the belt will help.
- They want to lift more weight.
Unfortunately, none of these reasons have anything to do with proper lifting technique and good health. There is evidence to suggest that weight belts assist in generating more foot-pounds of torque in the torso and torso stiffness when the spine is bent to begin with. However, if proper spinal mechanics are maintained during a lift, the belt does not function the same.
Spinal biomechanics expert Dr. Stuart McGill states that belts should only be worn when going for a record or when lifting heavy weight (1-2 rep max). The remainder of the time, your body should be doing the work of a weight belt. Anatomically, your body is capable of maximizing torso stiffness. The abdominal wall, formed by internal oblique, external oblique and transverse abdominis, creates hoop forces. In the back, the obliques connect to the lumbodorsal fascia to complete the hoop or "anatomical belt". These structures together aid in spinal stiffness and stability. They can be specifically trained as well.
Stay tuned for The Use Of A Weight Belt (Part 2) to see how you can specifically train your core to pull more weight!
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