To Belt or Not to Belt?

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“You still use a belt?”  The comment came from an old acquaintance who knew me from when I used to be manager Gold’s Gym.

“Why, you don’t?”  I could see he looked confused as he saw my lifting belt draped over my shoulder, and I knew exactly why.

“I stopped,” he said with an almost said tone to his voice.  “Doesn’t using one weaken the core?”

I knew where this was coming from.  I had also read the research report that had sparked his decision.  The problem with information is that you have to know when and if to apply it.  Developing core strength is an important part of fitness.  Doing something that would limit that development like using a lifting belt at an entry level of fitness on basic, safe movements isn’t something I would do with a client of normal good health.  On the other hand, the core will always be a weaker area structurally no matter how much we target it in training.  That’s simply how our bodies are engineered.  Bend a pencil and it will snap at the core.  So if you’re doing movements with significant resistance, it only makes sense to support that area.  Once I get to a certain weight on movements like squats, deadlifts, rows, overhead presses, cleans, etc., I will gladly reach for my belt.

If you can do a movement comfortably and with good form and do not feel at risk or in need of support, great.  And yes, your core will benefit from this.  But if the movement is heavy enough to cause concern then using a belt will not “weaken” your core.  You’re not going to throw your back out carrying a couple of bags of groceries up a flight of stairs because you use a belt when you’re squatting and deadlifting 300-400 plus pounds.

As you continue to learn and gain experience then you’ll be better able to decide what actually does apply to you and what might not.

 

Model: Saul Cervantes

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