Nowadays there is plenty of different equipment designed to make our life easier. We have cars to move us about, chainsaws to cut the wood instead of axes, weight-lifting belts to help us with the training and so on. One of the common features of these inventions is that none of them actually make us stronger. They make our life easier but in a long term they might make us weaker or fatter. However living without these inventions in a modern world can be difficult or even impossible. We’ll not be discussing here all of the existing devises or innovations but focus on our main objective –How to Get Big. So the question is: ‘Should we use weightlifting belts during bodybuilding training’?
What is weight-lifting belt and what does it do
Weight-lifting belt is a big, thick usually leather belt that you strap around your waist during training.
It is designed to help our core muscles with the lifts, increase the stability of the lumbar region and protect our spine from injury.
Advantages of using weight lifting belt
During heavy compound lifts like Squat, Deadlift and especially Military Press the pressure on our spine can be quiet high. Core muscles are designed to protect it – keep it stable and safe. By using weightlifting belt we help abdominal and lower back muscles to do their job and make these exercises a bit easier.
The best advantage of this type of belts, in my opinion, is protection the spine from the injury. However that doesn’t mean that you won’t hurt yourself at all while wearing it. Correct technique is always essential and there’s no tool or equipment that will prevent you from an injury if you are doing exercise wrong.
People who suffer from pain in their lower back region during certain exercises find using these belts very helpful however it’s not always a good thing.
If we keep on training with weight lifting belts all the time our core will not be getting stronger. Or it will not get as strong as it could. By having additional help, muscles of midsection won’t need to adapt to heavier weight, as they would without it. In other words core muscles will be weaker than the rest of our body.
If the person who suffers from lower back pain for example, keeps on using the belt permanently without addressing his problem will always feel the pain. His condition will not get better. Furthermore training without support will become impossible for him in the future.
To help you understand the situation I will tell you the story I’ve heard about one man. He worked at the building site and as any other job like that it was quiet hard and demanded heavy lifting. So to make his life easier he’d decided to wear weightlifting belt to work. It helped; the work became a bit easier. After couple months he forgot to take the belt with him one day. He nearly couldn’t work. Any lifting was killing his back. His core muscles became weaker and every task was much harder. After that he’s never used it again.
Should we use weightlifting belts then?
I do not recommend training with weight-lifting belt all the time. I honestly think it’s a very stupid thing to do. At the end of the day our core muscles are designed to support the spine, not some piece of equipment. If core muscles are too weak to do it then we have to get them stronger.
However I am not saying that lifting belts are useless. They are great when we lift very heavy or trying to establish our personal records (PR). By providing additional support for our spine and midsection they give us greater confidence during the lift and protect us from an injury of course to the certain degree.
What about anybody who needs it?
If anybody suffers pain or has any other problem with the midsection and needs to train with the belt that’s ok as long as he addresses his problem and works toward fixing it rather than ignoring it. In other words wear it only when you need it and if you have any weakness in core muscles try to improve weaker area by:
- Stretching lower back,
- Stretching hip flexors,
- Strengthening abdominals,
- Strengthening obliques,
- Activating the glutes or
- Working directly on lower back muscles.
Besides make sure your technique is correct, without it any exercise will cause pain. If the problem is more serious of course see the doctor.
Most of modern inventions can make our life much easier but they won’t necessary make us stronger. Undoubtedly they can help us however overusing them can weaken our muscles or make us depending on them for life.
Weight lifting belt can be a very useful piece of equipment as long if it’s not overused. It will help you establish personal records and give you extra support with your lifts.
My advice is – use it only when you really have to: when you are lifting really heavy, attempting PR’s or need it for any other reason. Don’t train with it all the time because you’ll develop weakness in the midsection area and in the long term you’ll become weaker.