Introduction If you’ve watched the weight lifting competitions consisting of the ‘clean & jerk’ as well as the ‘snatch’ technique during the Olympics, you would have noticed weight lifters wearing thick belts during their lift in the competition.
That’s the fitness weight belt that is normally used in powerlifting or weightlifting.
There are pros and cons to wearing this belt, thanks to the controversy that has been stirred up recently by purists in the weightlifting business and medical experts as well.
And yet despite all this, the thrill of watching these men push the limits is enough to get your heart pumping and feel that adrenaline rush through your body while you go through your workout.
But before we get bum rushed into Mr. Olympia mode, let’s understand what the weight belt is used for before we go into its pros and cons.
The Weight Belt – What is it? Weight belts much like conventional belts come in different shapes and sizes yet their functionality remains the same: for support. However, in the case of weight belts, the functionality is to support the lower back, and thus safely increase the intra-abdominal pressure while lifting large weights in strength training or competitions.
The weight belt originates from the ‘back belt’ or the ‘back support belt’ because they were used by industrial workers to protect their backs while lifting heavy weights. So, you can see that the functionality is the same although the reason for use varies.
These days, there are Olympic weightlifting belts and powerlifting belts as well, and most of them are made of leather or Velcro. The width of the powerlifting belt remains the same around the circumference of the belt, while in the Olympic belt are wider at the back (when strapped on) to support their lower backs.
So, you next obvious question would be (amidst all the controversy), do you need one?
Weight Lifting Belts – Do I need one while working out? The answer to this question depends on your state or health and fitness. If you’re a fitness-junkie (pardon the paradox) you probably don’t need to use one all the time. Now, just in case, you’re struggling from an injury or are attempting to lift large weights, a weight belt helps in preventing further injury or the risk of getting one.
But if you’re healthy enough, and you don’t push your limits while working out, then you don’t need to use one.
One of the reasons why there has been some controversy around the constant usage of weight belts is because using one with light weights doesn’t help strengthen your abdominal muscles in the workout, as it the relieves the pressure by almost 25%. So you can imagine how useful the belt is in these circumstances. Such are the pros and cons that surround this controversy of using the weight belt in fitness routines.
In Closing Apart from the amount of usage involved, there is no scientific proof that it actually helps in protecting your back, as the benefits involved are largely geared to protect the lifter from the risk of injury.
Finally, as mentioned earlier there’s no need to use one constantly while using light weights, only of course if you’re performing exercises where the lower back in involved such as the military press, the squat and the deadlift.
If you’re not doing too much or aren’t injured, you can do without these extra contraptions while working out as your body is all you need, really.