The use of a lumbar belt is essential in the development of several sports modalities, including weightlifting, crossfit, powerlifting, and other disciplines that require lifting heavy loads or efforts taken to the limit, but there are some things you need to take into account when using one.
The lumbar belt will help you maintain back alignment, which can be beneficial if you’ve recently had a injury and can help prevent injuries too.
Why should you use a belt when weightlifting?
The muscles of the lower back and abdominal area are the main muscles involved in stabilising the core during heavy lifting movements, such as weight training.
These muscles are also more exposed to injury when weightlifting.
In this sense, a lumbar belt should be used to protect the lumbar and abdominal areas in order to achieve greater stability, ensure correct execution, and avoid possible injuries.
The lumbar belt is perfect for giving you extra intra-abdominal pressure when lifting a lot of weight, allowing you greater power in each lift, but you shouldn’t always use it as the musculature could end up weakening.
The weight belt generates an increase in intra-abdominal pressure, tightening the rectus abdominis and lumbar area, helping you exert more force while acting as an external stabiliser to perform the work more safely.
On the other hand, the increase in intra-abdominal pressure leads to a decrease in the compression that the vertebral discs must withstand, reducing the risk of suffering lumbar injuries when lifting weights.
This is another of the main functions of the belt.
Support when lifting weights is another important function of the lumbar belt, as it helps improve movement during exercise.
What are the benefits of using a lumbar belt?
Using a lumbar belt has a number of benefits, such as those mentioned below.
- Reducing lumbar tension by compressing the abdominal cavity.
- Increasing intra-abdominal pressure, which provides more support in the lower back, allowing the erector spinae muscles to exert less effort during exercise.
- Helping maintain back alignment.
- Preventing injuries: such as herniated discs and displaced discs when lifting weight.
- Improving performance in weight training and other sports including weightlifting.
- Strengthening the hamstring muscles, which facilitate hip extension and knee flexion. You can even activate your quads, reducing fatigue during workouts.
Types of belts
Choosing a belt is a necessity when introducing a considerable increase in weight to lift.
There are three types of weight belts with different benefits:
Belts with a double buckle and lever (Powerlifters): These are leather, heavy, expensive (60 euros and above for the good ones), very durable and quite complex (the lever needs to be disassembled with a screwdriver to change the diameter).
Single or double buckle belts (Weightlifters): These are made of a lighter leather than a powerlifter belt and usually with a single layer (compared to the two of the previous one).In general, it’s bigger on the back than on the front, usually costs around 20-50 euros, and are the most commonly used in the gym.
Neoprene and Velcro: These belts would probably be sufficient for 99% of normal gym goers. They’re made of fabric and the most common fastening is velcro. The main advantages are that they fit exactly to the desired perimeter and that the buckle doesn’t get in the way during movements such as squats, deadlifts, etc… On the surface, they seem a more economical option than the second belt.
When deciding what belt to buy you need to understand certain criteria. In the following section you’ll find some useful information on the subject:
What do you need to keep in mind when buying one?
Among the aspects to be considered, the level of load to be resisted and the technique of execution should be prioritised, and then the rest of the criteria can be analysed.
Here we’ll differentiate between use for powerlifting and fitness, bodybuilding…
- Powerlifting or Weightlifting. With this type of lifting you need to inhale air and expand the stomach to achieve momentum. A wide belt is generally used, consistent in shape, which limits the expansion of the abdomen.
- Fitness. The athlete requires greater freedom to perform movements without interference from the accessory. Use a wide belt on the back; but considerably narrow on the front.
The thickness usually varies between 10 and 13 millimeters.
The thicker the belt, the stiffer it will be.
Lumbar belts are made of leather, suede or nylon.
- In general, leather belts (more rigid and durable) and suede belts are appropriate for the Olympic style.
- The nylon ones offer support, but greater flexibility.
It can be by buckle (single-point or double-point) or lever.
The lever-type fastening is the most practical, as when it’s adjusted to the desired position it’s secured.
It’s important that the belt fits correctly and is comfortable for you (well, actually at the moment of lifting you should tighten it and feel a slight discomfort, so that in the end, you loosen it).
This is where its use is justified to provide stability in the movements, so that the execution is safe, minimising the risk of injury.
Habitual use of the belt could have an adverse effect.
It could lead to the detraining of the spinal stabilisers, which would result in dysfunctional movements when the belt isn’t worn.
- “Cómo comenzar a entrenar en musculación” Ginesangel Baez Baños 2015
- “Las dolencias de la espalda, hernia, lumbago, ciática, tortícolis” Dr. Philippe Maslo 2001
- “Programación y coordinación de actividades de fitness en una sala de entrenamiento polivalente” Alejandro Pereira Ortega y Sandra Rodríguez Ramos 2014
- Professional and personal training and experience.
- Have you heard of the Valsalva maneuver? For advanced users only: view post.
- How does muscle mass influence Powerlifting? We tell you here.
- If you want to know more about Weightlifting, click on this link.