When used correctly, a weightlifting belt can really help you in lifting heavy loads.
There will always be a discussion somewhere online on whether or not you should use a belt… please ignore those conversations. Those debates can be summarized by the following statement.
Use a belt when you feel like you should during a heavy lift.
There will always be value in training without a belt, but don’t go to the extreme. Vary your training sessions by using a belt sometimes and avoiding it althoughter in other sessions.
Anyone that disagrees with that simply is not using a weightlifting belt correctly. Personally, my back squat with a belt is 25-lbs heavier than it is without a belt… the same is true for most of our coaches.
This tends to be the case because the belt adds an additional layer to your existing bracing. If you’re confused on how to use a weightlifting belt, here are three simple steps (along with a video):
- Take a breath in through your nose and hold it.
- Place the belt just under your rib cage as you brace your abdominal wall.
- Draw the belt just tight enough to slightly restrict your braced abdomen.
In summary: The purpose of a weight lifting belt is to strengthen your bracing (i.e. you still need to brace!) When used with this intent, a weight lifting belt can add significantly heavier loads to your lifts. But train without it from time-to-time.
Now, let’s talk about which belt you should buy…
Which Belt Should I Buy?
When it comes to weight lifting belts, you generally have two options: one that velcros and the other that clips.
Velcro belts are preferable for cross training because they are easy to loosen and tighten. But if you’re going to buy a velcro belt, buy this one (Rogue USA Nylon Lifting Belt). It is the only velcro belt I’ve seen that doesn’t lose its adhesion after a year.
Belts that clip shut are preferable if you only plan to use it while lifting. These are more sturdy than the velcro belts. The downside to a clipped belt, however, is that you are subject to the spacing in between holes. In other words, you can only tighten the belt in increments of 1/4 inch. But the belt that is loved by powerlifters, weightlifters, and crossfitters alike is the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt.
Sizing is the last consideration when choosing a weight lifting belt. Follow the sizing chart at the bottom of every belt Rogue sells online (see hyperlinks above). I have found these to be extremely accurate.
From a gym owner’s point of view, buy your belt from Rogue. I’ve seen too much variation over the years in other belts created by Schwinn and Nike. I like Eleiko belts but really only feel comfortable recommending Rogue.
If you buy it from Rogue, you probably won’t ever need to buy another belt again.
When belts are used as tools to strengthen your bracing, they are extremely helpful.
I personally recommend the Rogue USA Nylon belt that Rogue velcros (pictured below). These are great for any workout and is the one that I use. This is also the most popular belt our coaches use.