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A belt may be helpful during Olympic lifts, such as the deadlift.
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If you've spent much time at the gym, you've probably noticed some men wearing thick belts around their waists while they lift. Workout belts are often used for support during heavy lifts. Although you're most likely to see men using belts because they tend to train with heavier weights, women occasionally wear them too. There are benefits and disadvantages to using a workout belt that you should understand before deciding whether to use one.
Know the Benefits
The main reason behind wearing a workout belt is that it can provide support to your core during very heavy lifts. For example, it might be a good idea to wear a weightlifting belt when attempting a deadlift max. The belt can serve as a reminder to keep your spine straight and to lift with your legs, not your back. During longer sets, a belt can provide support to your abdomen and back to help prevent fatigue. A workout belt should be worn snugly around the waist. Position it tightly, but make sure you have enough room to take a deep breath and contract your abdominal muscles during lifts.
Consider the Drawbacks
Wearing a workout belt regularly can become a crutch in the weight room. Over time, constant belt use may cause your abdomen to weaken and posture to suffer. This can happen because your core muscles aren't being forced to fully engage, thanks to the support offered from the belt; this can lead to injury and bad form. Even if you train your core muscles separately, your abs and lower back can become unaccustomed to practical application when performing lifts you always wear a belt for.
Decide When To Use Them
According to Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., with the Mayo Clinic, workout belts may be helpful when doing power lifting or deadlifts. As long as you're not power lifting every day, there's no reason to wear a belt for every workout. A belt is not necessary for movements that don't generally place a lot of torque on your lower back. For example, it should never be necessary for you to wear a weightlifting belt to perform bicep curls or tricep extensions.
Take Some Precautions
You shouldn't use a workout belt if you have poor form to begin with. During heavy lifts, proper execution is critically important for avoiding injury. Until you've nailed perfect form for a movement, reduce the weight and train without a belt. Remember to always keep your spine in a neutral position when resistance training - regardless of whether you wear a belt or not. Be sure to use a spotter to assist you on heavy lifts.