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Are Weight Lifting Belts Beneficial?

-The main argument for wearing a weight lifting belt is to provide an extra degree of stabilization and safety to the lifter themselves. Obviously, these are both important and nobody wants to sustain an injury while they are lifting, especially a back injury. While a belt might seem like a flashy fix to anything back related, there are some big drawbacks from wearing a lifting belt at all times in the gym.

-Similarly to a brace or a cast, a lifting belt can take away from the muscle action itself. This can create some dependency on the weight belt instead of relying on the muscles in the core (all of the muscles that connect to the torso region, including abs and back). This may lead to underdevelopment and even atrophy of this area in the body and can cause bigger problems down the line.

-By becoming reliant on using a lifting belt the body may be set up for more risk of injury. A lot of the evidence behind this points to the body not being able to handle the loads that are placed on it when there isn’t a belt present. The muscles are so used to having that external “brace” that they are not capable of doing it on their own when they are called upon. This is when injuries are bound to happen.

-How to properly use a belt: Another misconception when using a belt is to cinch it up as tight as possible around the torso. I think the logic behind this is that the tighter it is, the more stable it makes the core. This reasoning isn’t really accurate simply because having an extremely tight belt doesn’t allow the individual to properly brace their core. Ideally, you would put on the belt with a little bit of wiggle room. This allows for you to brace the core by taking a deep belly breath that expands the four quadrants of the abdomen into the belt itself. This will better stabilize the core and be the most effective in reducing the rate of injury.

-A good recommendation as to when to use a belt would be for anything above 90-95%. This is partially due to the safety aspect that the belt may provide, but research shows that wearing a weight belt while lifting did not appear to offer a significant biomechanical or motivational advantage to the user.

-There are some exercises that help strengthen the back to more effectively reduce the chances of injury and live a pain free life. The Reverse Hyper exercise is a simple and effective way to strengthen the posterior chain. It’s unique exercise design was created by powerlifting legend, Louie Simmons, in order to strengthen the lower back, glutes, and hammies while also lengthening the spine. This is ideal for people with lower back pain/issues because it directly targets this area without externally loading the spine. The reverse hyper does more than just help reduce back pain. For those looking to increase deadlift or back squat numbers, while also building a bulletproof back, this is the perfect exercise for you. Similarly to the reverse hyper, RDL or Romanian Deadlifts are a great exercise to develop the posterior chain. By directly targeting the hamstrings, glutes, and low back, it is a good exercise to add into your workout routine. Farmer Carries are also a great core builder, along with grip strength. This exercise requires a stable core in order to keep the torso upright during the walk.

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