You’ve probably seen weightlifters in the gym wearing belts whenever they workout on the heavier loads and you’re thinking that they’re wearing one because they don’t want to get injured. There is an on-going debate as to whether you should wear one or not and just like with any other gym equipment, there are pros and cons that you need to weigh first before you decide. In theory weighting belt are are used to give extra support to the abs and lower back.
- 1 How a Weight Lifting Belt Works
- 2 How to Wear a Weight Lifting Belt Correctly
- 3 Benefits of Weight Lifting Belts
- 4 How to Choose the Right Weight Lifting Belt
- 5 A Review of the Best Weight Lifting Belts
- 6 Harbinger Lifting Belt
- 7 Fire Team Fit Weightlifting Belt
- 8 Lifting Belt by Rip Toned
- 9 Dark Iron Fitness Pro Weight Lifting Belt
- 10 Ader Leather Power Lifting Weight Belt
How a Weight Lifting Belt Works
Deep breathing is often taught in weight lifting centers to ensure that your muscles will be better prepared to lift the weight. One such technique is called the Valsalva maneuver where in you take a deep breath to create pressure in your intra-abdominal muscles to support and strengthen your spine. This is where the weightlifting belt comes in. What you do is take a deep breath into the weightlifting belt which in turn pushes against your abdominal muscles. This heightens the effect of the intra-abdominal pressure giving your spine its much needed support. What happens is that there is a high amount of pressure being developed in a short time that allows you to enhance your lifts.
How to Wear a Weight Lifting Belt Correctly
The correct way to wear a weightlifting belt is pretty much self-explanatory. The buckle should be positioned at the front where you can pull it as tight as you can but without having any trouble removing it. The challenging part is the type of belt that you are going to use. If the belt that you are using has a thin strap with a thick belt at the back, you might want to switch it around. Keep in mind that the pressure being put in the front is what’s important because this is the one that assists your spine in accommodating the stress that you are putting on it when lifting heavy loads.
To check the belt, strap it on and tighten it so that it will remain in the same place. Don’t tighten it too much though. Now go into a squat pose then squat down. The belt will move into the right place where it will do you the most good.
Benefits of Weight Lifting Belts
There are three main benefits to wearing weightlifting belts and these are:
Improved biomechanics. According to research, the weightlifting belt reduces the amount of lateral flexion, spinal flexion, and spinal extension while boosting the flexion of the hips and knees where the movement should occur when lifting heavy objects like weighted barbells.
Better lifting performance. Another benefit to wearing a weightlifting belt is that it can help increase one’s performance. From the number of reps that they can pull off, to the speed in which they can do the exercise, all the way to the development of muscles which was considerably better compared to not wearing a belt during heavy lifts.
Stabilizes the spine. Like it was mentioned before, the weightlifting belt is the one responsible for increasing the intra-abdominal pressure in your abdomen, which in turn can help support and stabilize the spine to minimize spinal injury when lifting loaded barbells. Again, the belt is not the one providing support but how the body reacts to the added intra-abdominal pressure that the weightlifting belt provides that is responsible for strengthening and supporting the spine during lifts.
How to Choose the Right Weight Lifting Belt
There are four things that you need to take into account when buying a weightlifting belt. And these are:
Equal width all around. Most weightlifting belts are 4 inches or 10 centimeters all around. This width sits perfectly on the hipbone and ribs. Women should look for a much lower width depending on body type.
Thickness. The thickest belt is measured at 13mm which is the maximum allowable thickness in the weightlifting federation. Just to be clear, the thickness doesn’t necessarily mean that it is of good quality because again, there are other aspects that you need to take into consideration.
Quality leather. The material used in making the weightlifting belt needs to be considered too. Since the belt needs to be durable, leather is typically used and these are top grain, full grain, and the split leather. The top grain and full grain are taken from the upper portion of an animal’s hide where in the fibers are closer to one another hence they are more durable. On the other hand, the split leather, or suede, is less durable compared to the others.
Prongs or lever. There are three options to securing the belt around your waist and these are single prong, double prongs, or lever. As the name suggests, the single prong allows ease of use especially when it comes to securing the belt after tightening it. The double prong adds another step to securing the belt which can be a bit difficult especially when it comes to securing that second prong. The lever, on the other hand, is the most expensive among the three as it allows you to secure the belt in one movement with the tightness remaining the same all throughout the lift. However, any changes in your body weight can affect how much you can tighten your belt which can be a hassle when wearing a lever type belt.
A Review of the Best Weight Lifting Belts
If you are planning on lifting more weight and have decided to wear a weightlifting belt to increase your lifts, here is a review of the top 5 in the market today.
Harbinger Lifting Belt
The Harbinger lifting belt is at the required 4 inches which is important for your training. The quality of the belt is good enough for constant use but it will require you a few tries before you will actually feel comfortable wearing it. The buckle in the Harbinger lifting belt is basically a steel roller which lies perfectly flat when you cinch the belt. This is an advantage for those who want to lift cleanly because you won’t have to worry about hitting the buckle on your way up and you don’t have to cinch the belt sideways too.
The 6” Harbinger lifting belt, on the other hand, is designed to contour on your hips and ribs to improve the fit in your midsection so that there will be more support to your waist and spine. The lining is made of suede and it sports interior foam cushioning to help keep your muscles warm without compromising comfort. It also sports a dual-pronged, heavy duty buckle to secure the belt around you and to maintain tension during lifts.
Fire Team Fit Weightlifting Belt
The 6” Fire Team Fit weightlifting belt is designed for both men and women who are in need of additional support. It comes in black, grey, pink, and blue colors. Aside from the color variations, what I like about this weightlifting belt is that it doesn’t inhibit your movement when worn which means that you can do multiple exercises like Dead Lifts, Back Squats, Overhead Squats, and Power Cleans without having to remove the belt. The Fire Team Fit weightlifting belt is made from Velcro which, unlike the leather belts that have predetermined holes, you can adjust the belt as you see fit. You can tighten it as much as you want without worrying about any holes to buckle the belt on.
Getting the right measurement is important when buying a Fire Team Fit weightlifting belt. The best way to do this is to use a string or tape measure and position it on your belly button then around your lower back. Get the result in inches so you can get the right weightlifting belt.
Lifting Belt by Rip Toned
The 4.5 inch lifting belt by Rip Toned is another favorite as it suitable for CrossFit, Powerlifting, Strength and Weight Training, and even MMA. The Rip Toned lifting belt comes with a long and wide Velcro strip that helps you tighten the belt safely and securely. Its metal clasp is made from durable and sturdy steel which won’t get in your way during your lifts. I like the design of the belt as it fits comfortably and can be adjusted easily. It can go as tight as I want to be and have no problems moving around with it. Another plus point to the Rip Toned lifting belt is that it is washable.
What I like about this lifting belt is that it comes with a lifetime guarantee and can be replaced anytime. Also, I find this particular lifting belt to be easy to strap on before exercise, and in just a few movements, have it off me in a jiffy. The Rip Toned lifting belt is ideal for both beginners and advanced weightlifters. Although this belt is a little more expensive, the lifetime and money back guarantee make up for its price. It’s a worthy investment if you are looking for a lifting belt that offers comfort, mobility, and a snug fit.
Dark Iron Fitness Pro Weight Lifting Belt
The Dark Iron Fitness Pro weight lifting belt is another choice perfect for men and women. It makes use of high grade leather with the design geared towards bringing you comfort, mobility, and support as needed. The use of genuine leather is what makes this weight lifting belt appealing to me as it speaks of durability and strength both of which are important in weightlifting belts. The wide body of the Dark Iron gives the lower back more stability and support when it comes to lifting heavier loads. Another plus to the Dark Iron Fitness Pro weight lifting belt is that its design is specifically customized to it with its part sewn to minimize loss of shape after prolonged use.
What I like about this brand is that its weightlifting belt comes only in 1.5lb. Which means it is lightweight making it portable. Although its design is not as striking as the others, it makes up for lack of bulk that often interferes with the lift. The belt is available in small, medium, and large sizes. Like the Rip Toned belt it comes with a life time guaranty, but this guaranty comes with a slightly higher price tag.
Ader Leather Power Lifting Weight Belt
The 4-inch power lifting weight belt developed by Ader is made from ¾ inch thick leather that is designed to withstand even the toughest of lifts. Its wide design allows ease of use which is a plus for anyone who wants to lift weights without any hitch. I love the comfort the belt provides and because it is not that bulky, it is perfect for beginners and professionals alike. The suede lining incorporated by Ader speaks more of comfort so you won’t find weight lifting a tedious workout. Another thing that I like about the Ader weight lifting belt is its closure system which is composed of a single-loop with the buckle following the double prong design. Although some may frown on the use of double prong, once you get the hang of it, you will find this weight lifting belt handy.
If you look closely at the belt, you will find that it uses a double stitch design which speaks of stability. This also means that there will be less forward as well as backward flexion. You can get this weightlifting belt in various sizes from small to triple large.