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Weight Lifting Belts: How To

Hey guys, I want to talk to you today about weightlifting belts. I get asked by a lot of my weightlifting and CrossFit clients, how I feel about using weightlifting belts.

They want to know if I’m for them or against them. In general, I will say, I’m for a weightlifting belt, if you’re using it properly. When you use a weightlifting belt properly, it can work to increase the efficiency of your core brace, which can help you lift heavier safley.

As a general rule, I tell people, I would like them to be able to lift 80% of their one rep max, whether that’s a squat or deadlift or jerk without needing to use a belt. And then any weight above that, we can use a belt to enhance our core activation and lift more confidently and safer.

So what I mean by using a belt correctly is how you put it on, and then how you use it when you brace during the lift.

The location of the belt is important.

So when we put a belt on, it should be more in our midsection versus down and on low back. Okay, so I have people put their hands on their iliac crest. Which is basically where you will put your hands to rest. So between that bone and the bottom of our ribcage. Some people have more space than others. But that should be generally where we put that. There might be some overlap in that position. I want that above those hip bones here and ideally below your ribcage, but again, there might be some overlap.

How tight do you want the belt?

I’m going to put it snug on exhale. I’m gonna take a breath in, exhale all the way, then I’m gonna tighten. I want it so that when I’m relaxed, so when I inhale, it gets tighter. And when I exhale, it’s a little looser. But at rest, I can easily put some fingers all the way around. I’m not seeing it as tight as possible. So again, the amount of tension also matters, use it properly.

When we use it as a brace,

we do it the exact same way as when we do without a belt. I’m going to take a big 360 degree, belly breath. So when I breathe in, I can feel my abdomen expanding into all parts of the belt. The front, the sides, and I can even feel my bath pressing in to the back of the belt here. I’m gonna take a big breath in. And then when I take that big breath in, I am going to tighten my stomach like I’m being punched. I’m not pressing out against the belt. I am bracing and doing an isometric activation in my core. Like if I’m gonna go punch you in the stomach. That’s the kind of brace I want. I’m not pushing out. Okay, I’m taking your breath in and bracing against that belt.

So again, I should feel like that belt is helping me in the activation. I’m not using it as a crutch. And I’m definitely syncing it up as tight as I can, and then letting the belt do the work versus my core.

When used properly, belts can actually improve and enhance your core activation. I like to use it when we’re lifting 80% of our one rep max or a little bit higher.

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Here at Peak Endurance Performance & Physical Therapy we help active adults in the Madison Area get back to the activities they love without pain or limitations. We see people of all ages, ability levels, and individuals trying to get back to a multitude of movements including: getting back into running, women postpartum, CrossFit athletes, climbers, gymnasts, wrestlers, overhead athletes, and your recreational weekend warrior. If you’re looking to get back to the activities that give you meaning, relieve stress, and make you feel like you again, feel free to reach out below and we’ll see if we’re the right fit for you.