If you've ever had a slipped disk in your lower back you'll already know why a belt is important. If you haven't, hopefully, this post will save you the agony.
In very basic terms, a weightlifting belt is designed to support your lower back (and core) while lifting heavy weight. They are particularly helpful or exercises such as deadlifts, squats, overhead presses and (sometimes) Olympic lifting. All of which are prone to causing lower back injuries.
Let me just take a second to point out that weightlifting belts are not designed to protect you from everything, and will not mask an injury you already have. It is very important that before lifting with a belt, you have perfected your technique with significantly lighter weights and that you've consulted a trained professional if you feel there is an imbalance in muscle strength or an injury. A great rule of thumb is also to ensure your core strength is spot on before lifting extremely heavy weights. No skipping sit ups.
The purpose of the weightlifting belt is to simply support and encourage, a good stable technique with little extra support throughout extremely heavy lifts which use compound movements.
How Does a Weightlifting Belt Work?
I have often seen people lifting with belts when they don't actually need them. So, to avoid wasting your money on a pointless bit of kit, it may help to understand how a weightlifting belt works and how it can slip into your own routine.
The purpose of the belt is to increase the pressure inside your body to ensure stability during a lift. We naturally do this by breathing in and holding it - this is called the Valsalva manoeuvre. The function of the pressure is to cushion your insides and established your spine.
When the weightlifting belt is correctly fashioned, it provides resistance for your abdominal muscles to push against and increases the cushioning internal pressure by up to 40%. This lowers the risk of injury and can provide a stable bracing of your back. You may notice that you're able to lift heavier and safer.
If you'd like my 2 cents - a belt is great for lifters who want to compete or are training for a sport that requires extreme strength and power (rugby etc..). A belt may not be needed for the average gym goer who just wants to improve their fitness. A better investment is coaching and core work. But that is me.
The Emrah Pro weightlifting belt isn't just 10mm of the sturdy thick lever, but it is finished with suede to give it grip and to make sure it is comfortable (even when it is really tight).
The belt has a heavy steel lever lock which gives this belt the ability to withstand huge amounts of pressure. There is nothing worse than a belt that pops off.
I have no idea when, or where I purchased this weightlifting belt but it has been the safest pair of hands for years and years. While I have borrowed, tried and tested others over the years, this one is the 'faithful' that has been in my gym bag forever.
The belt is from BodyMax, and while I can't see whether this model is sold anymore, I wanted to give a nod to this belt that has saved my body many times.
It is not bells, no whistles, just as reliable as it gets.
Element 26 Self-Locking Weight Lifting Belt
While weightlifting belts are mostly used in the powerlifting and strength events, these belts aren't suited for those who do CrossFit events. They don't generally need to be so bulky and heavy. So Element 26 have come up with a great lifting belt ideal for CrossFit.
The Element 26 lifting belts have a self-locking buckle which removes the need for velcro and does not have padding addons which means that there is equal pressure all the way around.
Made with Niolon and steel, this belt is extremely durable and will last for years.
A super simple belt that is both durable, easy to use and will be by your side when lifting for years to come.
It 10mm thick of hard leather that will give uou all the support you need for heavy squats or lifts.
There are no bells and whistles here. Just a great belt for lifting
Titan Armour Self-Locking Weight Lifting Belt
In almost the same way as the Element CrossFit belt above, the Titan Armour belt is self-locking, light and durable, and easy to adjust quickly or on the move. It is ideal for CrossFit competitions or for training.
What is great about titan is that they are a 100% UK based company, and supporting them is as good as supporting local.
RDX are a huge brand in the lifting community, and they produce some of the best weightlifting belts on the market. This is the powerlifting version of the many belts they do and is designed specifically to help lifters produce huge amounts of power while offering support.
The belt is extremely robust and has a super heavy-duty lock on it and suede finish for comfort and grip.