Among them are good reasons why you should consider using a lifting belt.
- One — Generally speaking
- Two — types of belts
- Three — how to break in a belt (video)
- Four — a detailed post, look here for best info
Should you use a belt?
A belt most certainly does not “turn the abs off”, but instead makes them stronger to help aid in the Valsalva Maneuver, or increase in intra-abdominal and thoracic pressure that protects the spine in lifting.
A belt functions on the abdominals, not the back. Thus, belts that are narrow in the front and flared in the back are irrelevant. The slight constriction of trunk volume by a belt with the same breath of air (a big breath) will result in increased pressure compared to no belt (volume down, contents same = pressure up — Boyle’s Law).
The abs contract harder isometrically into the belt and get stronger quicker. Not only are the muscles getting stronger, but the additional pressure increases efficiency and safety.
By choosing to not be safe and efficient, you are not only limiting your strength improvement, but doing so with crappier form and a higher potential for injury. Probably something you should think about.
Which belt to buy?
Justin recommends the Retro Series Elite FTS Power Series Belts (which are out of stock) and the Harbinger Pro Nylon Velcro Lifting Belt (only $13.50 at Bodybuilding.com, buy is size smaller than you think). The Valeo 4″ Belt is also very popular among weightlifters.
The only drawback with these belts (including the Retro series), is that they may be a bit thick for some people to get in a good pulling position with. In such a case, you could always use a thinner leather belt. A suede or leather belt (see picture) is probably too big to use for the Olympic lifts and we (at the WFAC) like to use regular velcro belts (pictured below). The brand is Harbinger…
How to break in a stiff belt.