Strength training is a challenging activity, whether you're an experienced athlete or just starting to build muscle. To provide your body with the proper support during heavy exercises, a fitness belt, also known as a powerlifting or weightlifting belt, is an essential accessory. In this blog, we'll guide you through the world of fitness belts. Whether you're a powerlifter, weightlifter, or simply a fitness enthusiast, this blog will help you find the perfect belt that suits your needs.
What is a fitness belt?
A fitness belt is a supportive accessory worn around your waist during heavy exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses. These belts are usually made from leather or nylon and are designed to offer stability and protection to your lower back. They often have a wider back and an adjustable closure to ensure a proper fit.
Why do you use a fitness belt?
Using a fitness belt provides several benefits during your workout. Firstly, a belt offers additional support to your lower back, allowing you to increase intra-abdominal pressure. This helps stabilize your spine and reduces the risk of injury. Additionally, wearing a belt can assist you in lifting heavier weights and improving your performance. The belt acts as external support, giving you more confidence and stability during intense lifts. Wearing a belt also makes you more aware of your back's position. The physical sensation of the belt against your skin prompts you to think about your back's posture and which muscles need to be activated to maintain good form. Research has shown that participants who wore a fitness belt during 8-rep max tests of the back squat had significantly more muscle activation (EMG) in their quadriceps and hamstrings than those who didn't wear belts. Using a fitness belt, therefore, offers many benefits. However, it's important to note that a fitness belt is not a substitute for proper technique and core strength; rather, it's a tool to help you maximize your potential!
When do you use a fitness belt?
A belt should be worn tightly to derive its maximum benefit. This requires physical effort and should not be done for prolonged periods. Research has shown that strength training alone can raise blood pressure, and wearing a tight belt during exercise can further elevate it. Therefore, belts should only be used in the following two situations:
- When performing exercises like squats or deadlifts with weights above 80 percent of your 1RM.
- When performing exercises that can hyperextend the back, such as the military press and push press.
Powerlifting belt or weightlifting belt?
At first glance, they might appear similar, but these belts do differ.
Powerlifting belt: A powerlifting belt has a uniform width across its length, usually around 10 cm. This provides maximum lower back support during heavy lifts like squats and deadlifts. Powerlifting belts are often made from sturdy materials like leather to provide stability and durability.
Weightlifting belt: A weightlifting belt has a narrower front and a wider back. The narrower front allows more hip mobility and supports the trunk during Olympic weightlifting. Weightlifting belts are often slightly thinner and more flexible than powerlifting belts to enable greater range of motion.
What to consider when choosing a fitness belt?
When selecting a fitness belt, there are several important factors to consider:
- Material: Fitness belts are available in different materials, such as leather, faux leather, and nylon. Generally, leather offers more durability and stability, while nylon is lighter and more flexible.
- Width and thickness: A belt with a wider back usually offers more support to your lower back. Regarding thickness, powerlifters often prefer thicker belts (e.g., 10-13 mm) for maximum stability.
- Closure: Various types of closures are available, such as single or double prong buckles, quick-release closures, and clip closures. Originally, fitness belts had a buckle closure. These are effective as they remain securely fastened during exercises. Additionally, a buckle-closure belt is not limited to a single size within the belt's range. This means the same belt can easily be used alternately by two different individuals with varying sizes. In contrast, a belt with a clip closure requires you to undo the clip to make adjustments.
- Fit: Ensure you choose the correct belt size so it comfortably fits around your waist. Measure around your waist, approximately 10 centimeters above where your pants sit. Don't suck in your stomach; measure in a relaxed state and then pull the measuring tape tight. The belt should be snug enough to provide support but not so tight that it causes discomfort. Your belt should be comfortable enough for you to breathe well and brace against. If you feel any pain or need to raise your shoulders during the above process, the belt is too tight. Unsure about the right size? Schedule an appointment to come and try on different sizes.
We offer various belts, such as the Crossmaxx® Weightlifting Belt Premium, Crossmaxx® Powerlifting Belt, and the Crossmaxx® Nylon Lifting Belt, that can help you achieve your training goals. Invest in a fitness belt and experience the benefits of enhanced stability, support, and performance during your workout sessions.
If you have any further questions about our fitness belts, feel free to contact us.