Ask half a dozen seasoned lifters what belt to wear and why, and you're likely to get as many different answers. In fact, you are likely to get more answers than the questions you asked, as many lifters have more than one belt to handle different lifts and situations.
The straps for lifting are a personal preference, and the purpose of this article is not to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of different types of straps. Instead we will think about how we can optimally use this simple but very effective training aid.
I would like to trust that you all believe in wearing a belt, but in fact I know that some of you may have to be a little more convincing. Let's try this reasoning. In order to get better (in everything – your sport, your life, your lifting), you have to get stronger. To get stronger, you have to lift harder. To lift heavier, you need to wear a belt. Wearing a belt can make lifting harder, which increases overall strength and makes you suck less. Quite easy when you think about it, right?
And for those of you who think that wearing a belt will not make your core stronger, we will address the core and intra-abdominal pressure problems below.
If you build up your overall strength using a belt in this way, you can lift more heavily when you remove the belt than if you had not yet worn the belt. All of this leads to you lifting more weight more often. If you combine this again with the logic above, you can continue to build strength for your ultimate benefit.
If you are not convinced, this is probably not the right article for you. However, if you want to know now how to get the most out of your belt (read: how to get stronger and faster), read on.
1. How to use your lifting sling effectively
Let's clear up a misunderstanding here. The main function of a belt is not to support the back per se, as is commonly believed. Instead, it helps you increase intra-abdominal pressure, which in turn acts as a clamp that supports and strengthens your spine. To use your belt effectively, you must use the Valsalva maneuver. This includes inhaling a large breath into your abdomen (not your chest) and trying to exhale vigorously with your throat closed. This pushes your belly into the belt, which increases the pressure build-up around your middle part.
2. When is a weight lifting belt to be worn?
When the going gets tough, the stubborn wear a belt. I do not suggest that you wear a belt with all warm-up sets. But when it starts to get hairy, add the belt. In fact, I would recommend wearing the belt in front of the sets that matter. Breathing hard against the belt is a skill that needs to be practiced, especially when doing continuous repetitions.
3. How tight must a lifting strap be?
As we discussed earlier, a good lifting belt has been developed to increase intra-abdominal pressure and stabilize your entire midsection. To create this pressure, you need to pull your abs against your belt. To do this, wear your belt one hole further than possible. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to get your hand between your belly and your belt.
4. How do you position a sling on your body?
The basic answer to this question is where it doesn't hinder your elevator. The bottom of the belt shouldn't get pinched in your hips when bent. The top of the belt shouldn't press against your ribs either. Carry it in a comfortable position while you can apply the necessary pressure against it. This position may be slightly higher when you pull off the floor.
5. When is the best time to use a lifting sling
In terms of movements, we talk about the large compound lifts (squats, deadlifts and presses) and also about the Olympic lifts, together with strength exercises such as yoke and farmer walks. All of these movements are fundamental to building strength. As we have seen, all movements that can be classified as such are best carried out with a belt in order to achieve maximum weight and maximum benefit.
Whatever your ultimate goals are, it is worth knowing and understanding how to use this highly effective tool to best support you on your journey. Buckle up!