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When to put on the belt?

Welcome back to the blog and sorry I stepped away for a second!

Today I want to talk about belts. Weightlifting belts are super useful tools but sometimes can actually become crutches to athlete progression and/or just accessories they collect haha.

The purpose of weightlifting belts down to the core is to help the body brace and have extra support when straining the body to its upper limits when the bodies own strength in posture and muscular endurance fails. This is again a PERFORMANCE sport so pushing our bodies to their limits is one of the ways we grow so it is ultimately a necessary evil.

If we look at it from an anatomical point of view...

Belts help the body produce pressure that supports the posture we are looking for to be in the best position to move the body with the bar on it. As you can see from this photo there is external pressure being put on the body from the belt when placed and tightened to the correct levels as well as outward pressure being created by the core muscles (yeah you still have to use those!!!).

If we look deeper into the human anatomy lets see what we find...

The belt when put on correctly actually FILLS the gap where we don't have structure. The ribs stop and the hips only come up so high so we use a belt to bring in artificial structure and "fill the void". The amount of people I have worked with that DIDN'T know where to put their belt on them is an embarrassment and actually has caused me to always check athletes belts when they are in 4 Star whether our athletes or not...

So now to the actual topic of "When should I use my belt?".

Generally I follow 3 rules...

1. If you are a beginner and have no absolute clue how to create core pressure and lack core stability and strength you are not going to be going into weights that should even require a belt.

2. If you are a beginner/trained athlete and have decent core strength and stability and have been training for a while I generally tell athletes to put on in their maximal (90%) sets as they still need practice and the weights are not "outlandish"...also as a coach I am still looking for perfected form rather than heavier load.

3. If you are a experienced/competitive athlete who is pushing into weights that are not "normal" loads because you need to prep for competition and are moving correctly I generally say put on around 80% and above. This is more of a precautionary measure to keep the athlete safe as they fatigue. I would rather reinforce the body and protect from maybe one "laxed" rep in a heavy set then be "prideful" and not wear a belt to be "hard" and tweak our-self ruining training for weeks.

Well that's all I have to say about belts and hope this brought something to the table for you as a coach or athlete and I am back to writing so see ya soon here again!

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