One of the great debates in the gym revolves around weightlifting belts. Some claim belts are absolutely essential for those heavy lifts. Other claim lifting belts simply mask your weaknesses.
The reality of the situation is a little different. If you’re an intermediate to advanced athlete, than belts can add huge value to your workouts. If you’re a newbie, than any back pain or added weight coming from a belt is simply a band-aid.
There’s a little more to it than that. So, we wanted to break it down once and for all. If you’re considering buying a weight belt for the gym, keep on reading.
When You Don’t Need a Belt
See, at Gunsmith Fitness, we’re in the business of selling weightlifting belts. We also cringe when we see people doing sit-ups or bicep curls with their belts on. As gym addicts, we don’t want anyone using a belt unless they need to.
So, here are a few situations where you shouldn’t buy one of the world’s greatest weightlifting belts from us:
- You Don’t Squat or Deadlift
Sure, there are a few other lifts that weight lifting belts can be beneficial for. The bread and butter? The squat and the deadlift. Serious lifters looking to add kg to their major lifts will benefit from a belt. If you’re hitting machine weights all workout long, you do NOT need a weight lifting belt.
Even athletes training bodyweight movements or dumbbell conditioning won’t find much benefit with a belt. Belts should only be needed when moving large amounts of weight on a barbell. Squat, deadlift, push press, etc.
- Perfect Form & Heavy Weights
There’s a reason you see some of the biggest, baddest guys in the gym using belts. Why? They’re moving heavy weights with near perfect form. If the form wasn’t perfect, they’d be injured.
These type of people need a belt to get over plateaus and crush personal records. Belts won’t do anything to cure bad form. In fact, you may be able to add more weight with a belt. And extra weight with bad form is never a good idea. The belt can even reinforce this bad form. As such, until you’re moving heavy weight consistently with good form, you should steer clear of a belt.
- Proper Stabilizing
Part of the main issue some people have with weight lifting belts is core stabilization. If you’ve never lifted heavy without a belt, then your core muscles could be significantly weaker than the surrounding areas.
As such, you won’t be able to lift nearly the same amount of weight when you take the belt off. That’s a surefire recipe for an injury. Instead, avoid a belt when learning how to lift. Once you’ve maxed out newbie gains, then incorporating a belt could be a great idea.
- Old Injuries & Blood Pressure
Last but not least - individuals who have suffered a hernia or have high blood pressure should avoid using a belt. Weight lifting belts can aggravate these issues significantly, even flaring up old nagging injuries.
When Weightlifting Belts Are a Great Idea
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. There’s a reason many a bodybuilder uses a weightlifting belt each and every workout. Why? Because they offer huge benefit to intermediate to advanced lifters.
In fact, most wouldn’t get under a heavy barbell for some deep squats without a belt on. Simply put, once you have enough weight on the bar, you’re going to need a belt to move it safely.
Here are a few other reasons why lifting belts are a great idea:
- Injury Prevention
When you’re under a heavy load, a lifting belt can help you prevent serious injuries, specifically - orthopedic ones. Make no mistake about it. When you’re moving 80% or more of your one-rep maximum while squatting or deadlifting, a belt can keep you injury-free while using ideal form.
In fact, many would argue that a belt is necessary for individuals who can squat or deadlift 2X their bodyweight or more. The legs will respond better to training and grow faster than your abs and lower back. As such, a belt can make up for any imbalances between the strength of your legs and your core.
- More Weight
Why are weightlifting belts so popular? Because they let you lift more weight! Trained athletes usually find their max weights go up 5-15% after training with a belt for one to two weeks. That’s a lot of added weight.
For an 80 kg man squatting 2X his body weight, adding 15% to his squat equates to an added 24 kg on a one-rep max. That’s one hell of an improvement by simply using a gym accessory for a week.
However, there is a caveat. Unless you’re an intermediate to advanced lifter, you could limit your gains by using the belt before it’s the right time. Have patience, young grasshopper. Don’t get greedy with your gains!
- Breaking Plateaus
Natural trainees stuck on a certain plateau will always benefit from incorporating weight lifting belts into their workouts. There’s no quicker way to topple a one-rep max PR than strapping up a belt for a few workouts.
Not only does a belt actually make you stronger, you’ll mentally believe you can lift the weight. A belt helps breakdown mental plateaus just as much as physical ones.
- Improved Biomechanics
Research has concluded that a belt ensures ideal biomechanics while squatting and deadlifting. A weightlifting belt will force you to lift more with your legs instead of your back. As your legs can adapt to heavy stimulus faster than any other muscle group, this is ideal.
The belt improves biomechanics by reducing spinal extension, spinal flexion, and to a lesser extent, lateral flexion.
- Less Stress on Spine
When wearing a belt, the intra-abdominal pressure inside you can increase by over 40%. In doing so, compression throughout your lower back discs can decrease by up to 50%. This leads to a vast reduction in pressure on your lower back.
But it’s not all due to the belt. The belt isn’t actually supporting your spine. The belt actually supports your abs. The increased abdominal pressure is what supports the spine while you move heavy weight. It’s how your body reacts to the belt that provides benefit to your back and weight to your main lifts.
The Perfect Lifting Belt For You...
As you can see, weightlifting belts provide huge benefits in certain situations while hindering lifters in others. So, when is it time to buy a belt? That’s pretty simple.
If you’re serious about performing heavy barbell lifts, like squats and deadlifts, then a weightlifting belt is a solid investment. In fact, it may be the most important gym accessory you’ll ever buy. If you primarily train with machines or dumbbells, then a belt may not be needed.
If you’re in the market, a belt from Gunsmith Fitness is what you need. While we may be a little biased, you won’t find a higher-quality belt on the market. Every product we create is dedicated to those gym rats looking to build bigger guns.
Our belts are made with premium leather and designed to assist even the swolest bodybuilders in crushing squat and deadlift plateaus! Click here to learn more.
If you're looking to design your own, be sure to check out our Custom Belts,