Have you ever wondered whether you should wear a belt for weightlifting? If you were in the position of wondering about this and you were unsure about the answer, then the chances are that you shouldn’t be using a belt. I am a weightlifter and belt user. In fact, I have been using a belt in training for about 8 years. So what’s different about me using a belt? I will try to explain now.
From a very young age I have suffered from back pain. My ability to get stronger as a teenager was great, but stronger muscles won’t improve joint health. After much pain, I discovered that I have some damage to the lower discs in my back. Even now, I experience pain from degenerative disc disease and dehydrated discs. My coach suggested trying a belt in training to help with the pain, not knowing whether it would work or not. Luckily, it did work and since then my belt and I have been to 2 Commonwealth Games and 1 Olympics and I truly believe that I wouldn’t have done it without the belt.
So maybe if you start wearing a belt then you will also go to the Olympics? Well, it doesn’t quite work like that. My belt usage was to diminish pain caused by damaged discs in my back. The problem is that people often don’t know that this is my reason for wearing a belt. They see an experienced lifter lifting heavy weights and think that the belt is helping them lift the weight. This is far from the truth. When my back is feeling good I won’t always wear a belt and I lift the same; however there is added risk which makes it unwise to do this all the time.
In my opinion, the reason above is the most common reason why people consider belts; to imitate better lifters. If this is your reason, then stop thinking about wearing a belt. It’s not necessary and will simply make your kit bag heavier. The next most common reason is weakness. This is potentially a worse reason than the first. If you are using a belt to compensate for weakness, then you are likely to end up with an injury that means you may need a belt for the rest of your life or perhaps have to stop lifting. If you have a weak back then strengthen it. I may wear a belt, but I also do hyperextensions, good mornings and ab work every day. How many other people are doing this? A belt is a last resort and even if you have to wear one, it is no excuse not to strengthen your back and ab muscles. A belt is for pain management for an unfixable problem. It is not a solution for weakness or a shortcut to lifting heavier weights.