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Weight Lifting Belts: Do You Need One?

body builder doing a heavy deadlift

We had a blast this past Saturday at our Keep Training from Being a Pain in the Back workshop here in Bethesda. Dr. Immermann and I had the pleasure of working with an amazing group of people and a great question came up.

What is your opinion on weight belts? Is it bad to be using them to lift weights?

As physical therapists specializing in sports medicine, this is not the first time we have been asked this particular question!

As with most questions, there is not a simple “yes” or “no” answer.

Weight lifting belts help us create and maintain more pressure in our abdominal cavity. This provides more stability to the spine and allows us to lift more weight.

Therefore, a lifting belt is a great tool to use when training for maximum effort.  Examples of this would include trying to set a personal record in the gym or competing in a weight lifting sport (Olympic lifting, Powerlifting). In these situations, the goal is to lift the most weight possible and a belt will help with that.

However, it is problematic if you rely on a weight belt to create intra-abdominal pressure (pressure within the abdomen) and support the spine during sub-maximal activities. You should possess enough strength and trunk control to perform moderate level work in the gym without the assistance of a weight belt.

As with most things, the usefulness of a weight belt is situation dependent. Sometimes they even have a place in the physical therapy process!

It is okay to use one as long as you do not rely on it and become the person in the gym with the weight belt performing 10 reps of lat pulldown.

For more information regarding similar topics please contact us at CHP and/or check out the links below!

Essential Pillar Strength 1

Essential Pillar Strength 2

Here is what to do if kettlebell swings hurt your back

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