When to wear a weightlifting belt.
You can wear a weightlifting belt when working lifts that close in to your 90% and above of your 1 rep max. Many coaches and professionals advise training without your belt as much as
possible to train your natural progression of IAP (intra-abdominal pressure) strength without always assisting with a belt.
When NOT to wear a lifting belt.
A weightlifting belt should not be worn for every session. It is important to train your own IAP and only introduce the belt at the top end of your percentages (ie: 90%+ of 1RM)
You should also not wear a weightlifting belt to fix bad for or to “help your back”. It is super important that you understand a weightlifting belt is NOT for fixing bad form or helping your back. It simply will not do this. It is an accessory to your already established strength and form.
What does a weightlifting belt do? And why do athletes wear weightlifting belts?Athletes wear lifting belts to increase their IAP to perform heavy/world record breaking lifts. Olympic Weightlifting athletes such as Lasha Talakhadze, World record holder for 220kg snatch, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson the Icelandic strong man with the world record of 501kg deadlift and CrossFit Athlete world’s fittest woman 4 years in a row Tia Claire-Toomey both wear weightlifting belts and for different reasons.
Olympic weightlifters and powerlifters wear belts to increase IAP during their single lift. Whereas CrossFit athletes not only do the same thing when required to but also wear belts during certain workouts where if the core is fatigued, they require further support and therefore will belt up to help assist their IAP. 3 different sports with 1 main goal. To assist with supporting IAP during max outs or max effort workouts.
Best Weightlifting belts for CrossFit!Basically Nylon Velcro is the way to go for CrossFit as it helps aid agility in transitioning between movements!!
Unlike Olympic lifting and Powerlifting where the athlete’s training style is more Strength and Power training and transitions between sets have longer rest times, CrossFit athletes work across the entire spectrum of training stimuli performing consistently varied functional movements at a high intensity. Meaning the weightlifting belt a CrossFit athlete needs to buy must support quick transition times during Metabolic conditioning workouts, but must be great enough to assist in max out lifts during strength and power training also.
For example a CrossFit athlete could be performing a workout with Handstand Push-ups into Double unders straight into a heavy clean. The ability for the belt to quickly and easily be loosened and tightened is paramount to transition times for that athlete.
Some of the BEST lifting belts for CrossFit.
Eleiko EVA Belt -
This belt is a firm belt with a velcro attachment. It is one width the entire way around the belt. And is competition width of 3.75" / 9,5 CM. The design incorporates their signature Eleiko knurling pattern and is sure to become a favourite belt in your gym bag.
Nike weightlifting belt -
This weight lifting belt is a great firm belt with velcro attachment. It is one width the entire way around the belt. The velcro on this belt is very strong and the overall feel of this belt is quite close to a leather belt. Nike has done well with this weight belt. These weight belts have a single step velcro “on and off” security making it one of the best workout belts minimising transition time in and out of the belt.
Scheik 2004 Lifting Belt -
This is a great belt. It has a double velcros attachment system, perfect for extra support. This belt definitely won't open on you mid lift. It goes slightly narrow when it crosses the hip bone which is super comfortable when descending into the bottom of a squat and the hip shouldn't hit the belt and the body reaches depth in the squat, making it the best squat belt. This belt is also great for those with a shorter waist and high hips. This olympic weightlifting belt/hybrid CrossFit weightlifting belt is competition approved meaning it can be worn in olympic weightlifting competitions as the width of the belt is no more than 4.75 Inches. Athletes such as Tia Clair Toomey wears a belt like this.
Harbinger 4” Nylon Belt -
A good weight lifting belt for this price point. This velcro weightlifting belt is the same width all the way around and is a great belt for beginners.
The top weightlifting belts for strength training, Olympics Weightlifting and powerlifting belts.
Eleiko Olympic Weightlifting Belt - Leather -
This Eleiko leather lifting belt is a strong leather that is a total width of 10cm (3.94 Inch) It's a great Olympic Weightlifting and best Powerlifting belt as the thickness and rigidness of the leather along with the metal buckle fastening means the support will be slightly greater. Its the best weight belt for squats, especially heavy singles. However transitioning out of this belt is not the quickest and therefore is not ideal for a CrossFit workout where belt transitions need to be quick. It's a great secondary belt to your Nylon velcro belt if you are taking specialised Olympic Weight lifting or powerlifting classes/programs where the training style requires a more rigid belt and allows for more time between sets to remove and belt up your buckle.
I'm a beginner, Should I buy a Weight Lifting Belt?
The answer to this question is I would wait and spend your money on other things that will assist you in training correct form and unassisted strength.
A pair of weightlifting-shoes or a really good pair of stable training shoes such as the WIT Nano x or Nike Metcon 7 should be in your kit before moving on to the accessories that assist with the heavier lifts. As a beginner focus on building your unassisted intra-abdominal pressure and focus on form. When the numbers on the bar start to overtake your body weight and you have a few reps in your session unassisted, then you can look into purchasing your first belt.
The next step for beginners is to then learn how to use a weightlifting belt and feeling the benefits of weightlifting belts when applied and breathed into correctly.
When purchasing your first weight lifting belt your waist length and circumference is key. For the length, measure from your sternum to just above your hips. This way you can get a great idea of how the belt will sit on your body when researching their width online.
When putting the weight lifting belt on, you want to have enough space to be able to fit 2 fingers in between the belt and your waist when standing relaxed. This ensures you have room to take breath into the abdominal cavity to create the tension required for intra-abdominal pressure (also referred to as the Brace). If the belt is too tight then your breath will be taken into the chest and the ability to brace for the lift from the abdominals will be compromised.
Here is a great guidance video to using a Weightlifting Belt: