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Why You Shouldn’t Wear a Weightlifting Belt


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Contrary to popular belief, a weightlifting belt doesn’t provide back support, and isn’t a safe way to help push out that last rep…


People usually start using weightlifting belts for one or more of the following reasons:

  • They see other people using them, and figure it’s probably a good idea.
  • Their lower backs are becoming excessively sore, and think the belt might help.
  • They want to protect their lower back from injury or lift a few more pounds, or both.

At first glance, using a weightlifting belt might seem to make sense. By wrapping our core and lower back tight, we should be able to better maintain proper form with heavy weights, and there’s less of a chance of our back slipping out of place…or…something…right?

Well, like many health and fitness myths, the weightlifting belt isn’t anywhere near as useful as many people believe.


Occupational Use of the Weightlifting Belt

Just about everyone that uses a weightlifting belt believes that it helps protect their lower backs from injury while performing heavy lifts like the deadliftsquat, snatch, and so forth.

There are quite a few ways that people claim this works:

  • Reminding you to maintain proper form.
  • Helping your lower back deal with shearing force resulting from exercises like the deadlift.
  • Increasing the amount of intra-abdominal pressure, which reduces the amount of compression on the lower back.
  • Reducing the range of motion, which decreases risk of injury.
  • Reducing muscular fatigue.
  • And more…

Well, like much gymlore, these claims just don’t hold up under scientific review. Let’s start with studies on the occupational use of weightlifting belts, and then we’ll talk about their athletic use.

An 8-month study conducted by Texas A&M University involving 642 airline baggage handlers found that a weightlifting belt didn’t reduce the risk of lower back injury. In fact, the group that wore the belts had a higher incidence of injury after they ceased their use.


study conducted by the University of Oklahoma analyzed data on 1316 workers at an Air Force base and found that while lower back training was effective at reducing injuries, the use of weightlifting belts wasn’t.


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducted a rather large study on weightlifting belts. After working with 13,873 people that handled materials for retailers for about 6 months, they concluded that “neither frequent back belt use nor a store policy that required belt use was associated with reduced incidence of back injury claims or low back pain.”


So, the research says that a weightlifting belt has little to offer to people whose jobs put continual stress on their lower backs.

How about weightlifters, though? Can we get anything out of a weightlifting belt?


Athletic Use of the Weightlifting Belt


According to Dr. Stuart McGill, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, the weightlifting belt can help weightlifters generate a little more power…if they use improper form, which increases the risk of injury. To quote him:

“Much of the occupational evidence has relevance for athletic use of belts. There is no question that belts assist in generating a few more Newton-meters (or foot-pounds) of torque in the torso through elastic recoil of a bent orso that is stiffened with a belt. However, if a neutral spine is preserved throughout the lift this effect is minimal. In other words, to obtain the maximal effect from a belt, the lifter must lift poorly and in a way that exposed the back to a much higher risk of injury!”

To get a better idea of why the weightlifting belt doesn’t provide any special lower back support, let’s take a quick look at the biomechanics involved.

So, if you’re a competing weightlifter and pulling 5 more pounds is the difference between winning and losing…and you’re willing to risk injury to get the lift…then a weightlifting belt might be for you.

But if you’re a recreational weightlifter, I don’t recommend that you use one. The only exception to this, McGill notes, is that people that have pre-existing lower back injuries maybenefit from a weightlifting belt if they also remain very strict with their form, and don’t use the belt to try to push heavier weights than normal.

The bottom line is that instead of using a weightlifting belt, you’re much better off focusing on maintaining proper form and building your strength that way, instead of trying to set new PRs at the expense of risking injury.



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I had a friend used to use one when doing curls, because he had a habit of swinging his back as he curled, said it helped him. I remember pointing to an interview in one of his own muscle mags which said this was known as a cheating curl and did not help with muscle growth and instead risked injury to the back, that the lifter should at all times lift in a measured count up then down whilst maintaining correct posture.

As for work tried using one a couple of times and found it uncomfortable and of no benefit whatsoever.

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Just don't use it all the time and it should be ok . You have to let the lower back gain muscle to.. Saying that I use to lift for years.. But work and stress took all my free time .. Thinking about going back soon.. love that high



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The main reason you should not wear one, is you look like a cunt, when outside of the gym. ditto when inside !

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Although my bed seems fine, firm but not too hard i have a slight backache when i get up in the morning. I wear a 5 inch support belt for an hour or so when i make up bed and prepare breakfast etc and pain goes away. Belt 200 baht from a lady at the Tues/Fri Soi Bukauw market.

Sex without love is an empty experience;


But as empty experiences go, it is one of the best.

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The couple of times i've tried were both when my back was dodgy, one was nerve damage, the other was heavy muscle strain, in both instances i found no benefit whilst working, as for olympic weight lifters, they might well find some benefit as posture is important as hell for them, but digging a ditch and carting a barrow or going up and down ladders, etc for 8 hours or more is a different story, false sense of security, but they do say the mind is the greatest healer so if you "feel" it works for you then maybe you will get some benefit. I have similar sentiments about the use of tubigrip on the knees, which i used to use regularly.

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i use a 4 inch powerlifting belt.  it helps prevent injurie.      i use when doing work sets of squats, deadlifts, and the press.  the idea of the belt when used correctly is that it creates intraabdominal pressure. kind of like a cusion of air  that protects the spine.    a powerlifting belt is different from a typical thin gym junkies weightlifting belt.  its a lot thicker and uncomfortable.   so basically i disagree with the title of this thread. unless your a crossfitter or a curl bro! 

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Wearing a belt when lifting heavier weights helps prevent hernia.

Has no significant impact on results.

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