The weight belt is a piece of equipment that needs to be chosen carefully, fitted carefully and used only at certain times. In this article, I will explain what a weight belt is, who should use it, its benefits and harms, how it is chosen and how it is used.
In fact, the weight belt is not a compulsory apparatus for individuals who train. Wearing a weight belt allows you to lift heavier in certain situations and certain movements. This is especially true for single-repetitive lifts with maximum weight, squats and deadlifts.
With these types of weights, your body limits you and you cannot exceed a certain power limit unless you can lift heavier. In fact, the weight belt helps you get over yourself at this point. Wearing a weight belt throughout the entire workout does not improve overall performance. Or, it does not improve performance in endurance-focused athletes who work repeatedly. It is very important to know the limits here.
The reason for this is related to the increase in intra-abdominal pressure while lifting weights. When you breathe deeply and squeeze yourself while lifting, the belt prevents the volume of your abdomen from increasing. This situation causes more pressure and more power. There is a damage caused by this situation when you lift more heavily.
The increase in your intra-abdominal pressure narrows the vena cava and abdominal aorta vessels that pass through the abdomen and are the most important vessels for feeding the body. This situation instantly causes less blood to flow to the organs and heart. Perceiving this, the heart tries to overcome this obstacle by using more blood pressure. As a result, this situation may cause sudden fainting and cardiac problems in individuals with cardiovascular disease.
Does a weight belt protect from back injuries?
The weight belt’s ability to reduce injury risk applies to only a few cases, but the belt protects it from injury. It achieves this by increasing the intra-abdominal pressure, stabilizing the muscles and providing support, as I mentioned before. However, improper movements increase the risk of injury even in the presence of a belt, and this risk cannot be eliminated with a belt.
This perception of position, which is sent to your brain by specialized cells to understand the position on the joint, gets complicated with the belt. We call this situation proprioception loss. The arch supports your muscles from the outside and the joint creates a different support than normal, distorting the perception of position. This situation causes the quality of the movement to deteriorate and the technique not to be applied correctly. Especially for beginners and intermediate athletes, loss of proprioception means an additional risk of injury.
As a result, the weight belt, which reduces the risk of injury by stabilizing the muscles, can cause more harm than benefit if it is not paid attention to by several different mechanisms. In addition, wearing a weight belt is completely ineffective in preventing the progression of the disability for individuals with existing back injuries.
How to use a weight belt?
Once you’ve decided that the weight belt is right for you, it’s time to achieve the correct use. First of all, you need to choose the right weight belt. Although the weight belts vary according to their features, the only type of belt that I recommend for general use, as well as the synthetic fabric velcro type belts with all other parts flat.
Although such belts do not increase the intra-abdominal pressure excessively, they make proprioception less complicated because of the less contact with the waist area. In addition, with this type of belt, you can minimize slipping in movements such as squats and deadlifts.
How and when to use a weight belt?
Should the belt be worn throughout the training or only during the required movements? Especially beginner and intermediate athletes teach how to behave their muscles without realizing it during many exercises. The most important thing that the body learns when using the belt is to use the abdominal muscles.
Since the load on the abdominal muscles will decrease and be suppressed with the belt, the learning and application of the motor functions of the muscles is impaired. For this reason, the belt should be worn only before the stressed exercise, not during the entire training.
Before which movements should the belt be worn?
The belt should be used before exercises such as Olympic lifts or all body exercises that require intense strength. Powerlifters also use the belt for movements such as bench presses to increase strength. The use of weight belts is not recommended for beginner and intermediate athletes in such movements.
So how should a weight belt be worn?
To attach the weight belt, you first need to find the right spot. The most accurate point is the level of the navel or 3-5 cm below the last point where your ribs end. After you find the right spot, you should put the belt over your clothes and tighten the belt so that there is no gap between the belt and your skin.
While wearing the belt, you should not have excessively thick clothing. If you are exercising with thick clothing, you can use the belt under the clothing. After tightening the belt, you should check yourself and make sure that you are breathing comfortably and that the belt is locked in the correct spot.
As a result, belt increases your performance. The belt does not reduce the risk of injury in exercises performed with the right technique. Weight belts do not provide serious benefits for people with disabilities. The belt impairs motor development and the sense of position. For this reason, it should not be worn constantly. The belt is not a miracle worker. It is a good helper only when used correctly.