A Guide to Weightlifting Belts 2023
A Guide to Weightlifting Belts
Those who wear a weightlifting belt correctly will have the tendency to lift heavier weights and have more explosive power, which boosts ergogenic performance when undergoing a 1rm and higher reps as well.
A weightlifting belt has a variety of different functions, such as:
- Reducing the amount of stress on your lower back when lifting in an upright position
- Preventing your back from hyperextending (forcefully extending beyond its normal limits) during overhead lifts
- Allowing you to be more aware of your back position and alignment when lifting, which adds an extra layer of support to your core and posterior as you brace against it
Using a lifting belt prompts you to consider your back position and what muscles are being engaged to maintain good form throughout a lift.
It’s important to be aware that weightlifting belts are used as a lifting aid, not as a back saving accessory.
Are Lifting Belts Necessary?
Lifting heavy? Yes. On machine weights, No.
Whether you are training BodyBuilding, Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting or Strongman—a lifting belt is a key accessory to have in your gym bag. Lifting belts offer added support to your back by encouraging you to engage the core muscles before completing a compound movement.
If you are squatting, deadlifting, pressing or jerking, a lifting belt can play a large role in improving your performance. You can use it to leverage on, brace against, boost kinaesthetic awareness and prevent injury.
Can A Lifting Belt Support Your Back?
Absolutely, they can.
Along with the added support and the awareness to brace against the lifting belt, increasing your intra abdominal pressure will help to stabilize your spine when lifting heavy loads. This increase of pressure throughout your torso will help you to lift in better and more efficient positions than if you have little to no pressure through your midline.
Bracing and Weightlifting Belts
Bracing is often misunderstood or done inefficiently.
As an athlete lowers below parallel in a squat or hinges for a deadlift, their pelvis may shift, their hips change direction and their back begins to bend. Without bracing, you increase your risk of injury substantially when undergoing heavy compound lifts.
Bracing should be learned and engaged correctly before the use of a belt is even considered. A weightlifting belt should be used as an added layer of support on top of the already inflated intra abdominal cavity pressure (IAP), not as a “back saving device”.
In your core, you have intra abdominal cavity pressure (IAP), which you can develop and strengthen the more you use it. IAP raises trunk stability and increases ergogenic performance.
“The Full Can Analogy”
The full can analogy refers to breathing in deeply through your diaphragm to create an abundance of pressure and tension throughout your torso, expanding in a 360 degree manner which stabilizes your spine.
Understanding this before you use a weightlifting belt is extremely important, as the lifting belts aren’t just meant to be pulled tight.
Weightlifting belts add another layer of pressure to brace against. Do it correctly to see maximum results.
Pushing against a firm belt, using the deeper muscles of your core to brace will lower the risk of back, hip, knee and ankle injury.
How to Brace with a Lifting Belt
Ensuring your core muscles are tight and pushing against the belt correctly, it will lock your hips and pelvis directly inline with your back and give you a good starting position to begin your squat, deadlift or press.You want to imagine a square around your midline, core and posterior.
Once the belt is on firmly around your waist (above the hips and below the ribcage) the athlete wants to press down and out into each corner of the square around their core—2 corners in front of the hips and 2 on the back side of the hips. This will ensure you have a secure back, strong core and are braced ready for the lift.
Pushing against the belt as you complete the movement will keep you tight and secure as you lower down and lift up. If the tension is broken, that is where injuries take place most often.
Different Sports Require Different Belts
A strongman will likely look for a rigid, thick, secure buckled, wide belt, as they offer the most benefit to the athlete when completing movements. When a strongman competes, there are certain movements that this style of belt will allow them to progress further than if they were wearing a thinner more flexible belt.
Some of the movements that come up in strongman competition require a change of grip. Using the thick, rigid belt to leverage against helps the athlete to adjust their grip when getting a weight from the ground to overhead, whilst supporting their back through the process.
Using a strongman belt in CrossFit or the functional fitness space will be too bulky and slow to tighten and release.
In a sport where efficiency and smooth transitions are essential, being able to tighten a weightlifting belt for a lift, and then release it again to perform a cardio or gymnastic movement needs to be a fluent process.
As an example, in a workout you may have heavy deadlifts into a 400m run, or cleans into muscle ups. A bulky buckle and stiff belt will not be as efficient nor lightweight for the athlete as a slim, flexible belt will be.
Likewise, in Olympic weightlifting, the belts need to be slender.
When a good snatch or clean is executed, the athlete will have the bar path as close to their body as possible until it reaches their desired position. Any obstruction or hindrance can be a detriment to their lift, resulting in a loss of performance.
Deciding what movements or discipline of sport you will be partaking in will assist you in choosing the right belt for you.
Which Weightlifting Belt Should I Get?
When asking yourself what weightlifting belt should I buy, you need to have a clear intention of what you are going to be using the belt for. Choosing the right belt for the discipline you are looking to involve yourself in or compete in plays a large role in which weightlifting belt you should buy.
Powerlifters/ Strongmen & Women/ Bodybuilders -Will typically go for a 100mm+ (4”-5”) wide lever belt, made of10-13mm thick, rigid leather.
Olympic Weightlifters - Will typically use a 100mm+ (4-5”) wide, 8-10mm thick nylon mesh belt, or an approx 3” wide, 8-10mm thick leather belt. Both have a solid securing system, which may be a buckle or velcro mechanism.
CrossFitters/ Functional Fitness - Will typically use a 100mm (4-5”) nylon mesh belt with a velcro securing system that allows them to tighten and release quickly as they conduct different movements.
How To Wear A Weightlifting Belt
With a vast range of belts on the market, the placing on where the weightlifting belt should be worn differs. Type of material, securing system, thickness, shape, purpose of belt and most importantly, athletes personal preference, are major contributing factors to choosing the best weightlifting belt for you.
Depending on what movement you are looking to progress with, what sport you are looking to compete in (or weakness you are trying to strengthen) will contribute to the decision you make when choosing a belt that is right for you, and how you wear it when training or competing.
Weight Lifting belts are designed to aid performance and increase power output. Therefore, the athlete does not want to wear it too low where it’s limiting hip flexion, nor too high, where it’s digging into the ribs or messing with breathing mechanics.
Lifting belts are designed to be worn around the waist, anywhere above the hips and below the ribcage. Taking a deep breath in before securing the belt will allow it to find its place naturally.
When Should I Wear a Lifting Belt?
You should be wearing a lifting belt when performing max or sub max lifts in compound exercises (anywhere from 70-100% of your 1rm), or anytime where the weight is supported by the lifter's back, or there is any risk of injury to the back from hyperextension. This can occur when performing a movement such as a squat, deadlift, press or jerk.
Additional Tips for Using a Weightlifting Belt
- It is recommended that the athlete should use the belt in their warm up sets to achieve the right preparation in their bracing technique.
- Ideally a lifting belt should be considered when you feel the weight could potentially cause any injury or harm.
- Making sure you understand how to brace without the belt first is key, and adding the belt as another layer to an already strong core is essential.
- Ensuring the athletes rib cage stays down with overhead movements and bracing against the belt can help to reduce injury by hyperextension.
Which Auki Belt Should I Buy?
If you’re into CrossFit or Olympic weightlifting, our weightlifting belt will help you maintain good technique while you lift heavy or grind out big sets of movements that can strain the back.
Made of 100mm (4”) thick high density mesh, the Auki weightlifting belt provides the optimal balance between support, protection and flexibility. Extended velcro strapping holds the belt firmly in place, with mesh padding inside to ensure a comfortable fit.
Pick one up today, or browse our products, so you can lift more weight with no pain.
How Do I Wear A Weightlifting Belt?
Place the belt firmly around your waist, anywhere above the hips and below the ribcage. Take a deep breath in, then secure the fastening mechanism for a firm, but not overly tight fit.
Before performing your lift, take another deep breath in and press down and out (this is called bracing) into each corner of your core. Imagine 2 corners in front of the hips and 2 on the back side of the hips.
If that feels comfortable, go ahead with your lift, using the same bracing technique throughout the movement. If something doesn’t feel right, loosen and reposition the belt and try again.
How Do I Choose the Right Size?
Measure the circumference around your abdomen, over the top of the belly button. Then choose the corresponding size in the sizing guide on our weightlifting belt product page.
How Tight Should A Lifting Belt Be?
In general, a weightlifting belt should be tight enough for you to brace against, but not so tight you have trouble pushing out with your core or have trouble taking a full, deep breath.
There is some room for personal preference with belt tightness. Some people simply prefer wearing their belt tighter or looser than others, and some use varying tightness for different lifts.
Should A Weightlifting Belt Feel Uncomfortable?
A weightlifting belt can feel a little tight and restrictive, but it shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. If it does, you probably have it too tight or in the wrong position (too high or low).
Why Should I Choose An Auki Weightlifting Belt?
The Auki weightlifting belt has been designed with the specific needs of Olympic lifters, CrossFit athletes, and functional fitness enthusiasts in mind.
Its 100mm (4”) thick high density nylon mesh design allows it to perfectly mold to your body, giving optimal support around the midline. Mesh padding ensures a comfortable fit, with extended velcro strapping holding the belt securely in place.