Understanding the protection that you will receive from a great weightlifting belt can never be fully understood, until you get hurt because you weren’t wearing one! Not just for show, a belt is made to help support your balance. When carrying out lifting motions, it’s hard to sense if you are in the right alignment. Although it could look simple in books and videos, when it comes time for you to lift, balancing yourself is often the last thing you think about. I’ve always used a weightlifting belt, it takes seconds to put on and it saves me, in the event that I am not using correct form. If you are a fan of the military press, this is the lift that I most utilize my belt for.
The awkward part of a military press is the fact that, to do them properly, you have to slightly bend your back to get the barbell under your shoulders. I prefer using the Harbinger line, as the belt that I’ve been using for about ten years, has only just now started to show any signs of wear. A good weightlifting belt will be durable and able to lock in whichever waist size it needs to. The last thing that you want to have happen when lifting, is your belt suddenly unbuckles, leaving your back wide open to pull a muscle in. To further understand why a weightlifting belt should be on your workout list has to do with how we all breathe. Have you ever ran or exerted yourself so hard that you became out of breath? Most likely, you will try and pull the breath from your stomach, expanding it out fully.
While breathing through your stomach, instead of your chest, works wonders for getting your breath back, it does also cause you to become off-balance. If you can have an image in your head of someone breathing in fully through their stomach, it will appear to be pooched out, which leaves you lurching forward, unknowingly. When we are trying to lift, it’s easy to naturally want to draw big breaths through your stomach. If you’ve paid attention so far, you can now realize why compound lifting and stomach breathing are a no-go. I used to think a weightlifter’s belt was made to force the spine into alignment, it is actually made to help restrict your breathing, which isn’t as bad as it sounds. If you were to attempt many of the hard-hitting lifts without a belt, stomach breathing would cause you to tip forward. When wearing a weightlifting belt you want to have it tight, but not on there so tightly that it impairs your ability to breathe.
I recommend thinking of a belt that is made for lifting weights, like you would any belt that you would wear in public. Most likely, you’ll have a notch that is met that allows you to breathe and ensuring that you keep your back properly aligned with the rest of your body. I’ve seen people wear their belts higher up, closer to their chest but I always like to have mine resting on my stomach. It will take some trial and error but eventually you will find the optimal spot for your belt to rest, it’s just a matter of personal preference. What shouldn’t be a matter of preference is deciding if you should ever use one of these belts or not. No question you should be protecting your back, when doing the more dangerous lifts.