Training Tips: Stay Away From Weight Belts!

Nick Nilsson's quick tips will help you get the results you are looking for from your training no matter what your goal.
Stay Away From Weight Belts
Relying on a weight belt to support your back can actually harm rather than help.

Weight belts are the most abused pieces of personal equipment in the gym and can actually cause more problems than they prevent. There are a number of types of belts ranging from Velcro-attached nylon belts to heavy-duty leather belts to air bladder, pump-up belts.

  • They are simply not necessary for most of the exercises people use them on.

  • Repeated overuse of belts will weaken your back if you continually rely on them unnecessarily.

  • The reason for this is that you are no longer relying on your own natural weight belt: your abdominals.

Here is a technique you can use instead of a weight belt:

  • Just before each set you do of an exercise that could compromise your back, breathe in and suck in your gut.

  • Hold it in and keep your chest and ribcage high.

  • This will activate the Transverse Abdominus muscle which acts as a natural weight belt inside you.

  • As you keep using this technique you will find that your back and abdominals will be much stronger. You may even find that your back pain goes away.

When to use them and when not to use them:

  • They are only possibly needed for exercises such as squats, deadlifts, power cleans, overhead pressing, bent-over rows, etc. that use a lot of weight and put your back in a vulnerable position.

  • Even then, they should not be used for anything less than maximum lifting attempts.

  • Do not use a belt for bench press, pushdowns, laterals, etc. If you need a belt for those, you're doing them wrong.

  • If you do use a weight belt for heavy work, be sure to remove it immediately after your set.

  • Do not wear belts too tight as they can reduce blood flow in your abdomen and lower back if they are excessively constricting.

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