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Should you use weight lifting belts?

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Occasionally in the local gyms you’ll see lifters wrapping a large belt around their low back and squeezing into it as tight as humanly possible. These have been used for ages and are believed to save your back when lifting.

I condone NOT using the belt. What I do condone is focusing on your core strength and stabilization, maintaining proper posture throughout your entire day (not just in the gym)…this means no slouching at the computer and being aware of your head position while talking on the phone. The belt in my eyes gives you “artificial” support, its taking your core out of the lift in a big way and not requiring you to manually tighten the low back and abdominal musculature.

Just about every movement in the gym that I can think of involves your trunk/core. Maybe if you’re performing wrist curls or seated calf raises you the requirements of your core are limited but ideally you would still be maintaining perfect posture.

A proper training program should focus on strengthening the entire body with few exceptions.

Two situations were I would consider using a belt would be extremely heavy powerlifting competitions where you’re only concerned about brute strength and moving the most amount of weight as possible (form tends to be a secondary thought in this sport). I’ll also see a lot of people at Lowes wear these belts for support. In a fast paced environment that requires 8 hours of repetition without much concentration directed towards proper lifting mechanics I think it would be a good idea to utilize a belt.

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About the Author:

Taylor Carpenter is a nationally Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Taylor was featured as a fitness expert in the first publication of NASM's "The Fitness Edge".
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