why do bodybuilders wear lifting belts all the time

Why do some bodybuilders wear belts all the time? Here is why.

Introduction

Coach, why do some bodybuilders wear lifting belts all the time? Should I do the same? It’s a common question that has been asked multiple times. 

Back in the old school days of bodybuilding, training with the lifting belt was a lot more common then they are now. Even today, many bodybuilders train with belts all the time. 

Why do some bodybuilders wear a weightlifting belt all the time? Weightlifting belts were commonly used by Powerlifters and Olympic lifters to prevent injuries but bodybuilders started wearing these belts to help in keeping the core secure and tight while training. Some bodybuilders also believe that these lifting belts assist in keeping the waist small but there is scientific proof to support the argument.

We are going to debunk common myths about wearing belts while training sessions and we are also going to discuss common questions that prove beneficial for your training sessions. 


Why do some bodybuilders wear belts all the time?

To be very accurate, not all the bodybuilders are wearing a lifting belt, but many of them are wearing them because of personal preferences or because of some BroScience. 

There can be many personal reasons behind wearing a belt all the time, let’s discuss some practical benefits and myths. 

Why do bodybuilders wear lifting belts all the time
Source: Simon Panda

reason 1- It enhances the lifting performance

Lifting belts are definitely helpful in improving performance, that’s the reason powerlifters wear them. For deadlifts, wearing a belt increases intra-abdominal pressure by about 15%, and for squats, it increases the intra-abdominal pressure by about 30%–40% more than lifting heavy weights beltless.

But, bodybuilding is not about lifting heavy-ass weights in every single training session. Instead, bodybuilding is more about muscle isolation and establishing a mind-muscle connection for greater hypertrophy gains. 

In short, you do not require to wear lifting belts all the time, introduce them to your training while HEAVY compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, overhead press, etc. 


reason 2- Injury prevention

Lifting belts do play an important role in injury prevention, but that too applicable while heavy lifts only. 

If you are lifting anything twice the weight of your body weight then you might require a lifting belt to support your spine and torso. 

How to know if you need a lifting belt or not? If you can do 5-8 reps with the weight then you don’t need any additional support. 


reason 3- It keeps the waist small

You can call it a Broscience but it has been believed by bodybuilders. There are a number of reasons why wearing a belt could keep the waist small: 

  • Some bodybuilders believe, wearing lifting belts can help in stabilizing the core and reduces the stress from the mid-section which might assist in maintaining non-bulky midsection. But lowering the stress from the torso would also lead to the weak lower back. 
  • Some believe that consistently wearing these belts while training might helps in shifting internal organs. You can also call it “a less extreme corset effect”, In my view, the corset effect is not healthy for the body. 

No matter what their real idea behind keeping the waist small with a lifting belt, these ideas a not backed by science and definitely not the healthy approach for long terms. 


reason 4- Helps in core activation

Some bodybuilders have admitted, weight training with a lifting belt helps in staying conscious about keeping their core tight. Okay, that’s the legitimate reason, but only staying conscious about the tight core isn’t gonna make it strong. Instead, wearing a lifting belt prevents the torso to do the stabilization work which might leave your core and lower undeveloped.

Instead of wearing the lifting belts for whole sessions, you can start your training session with some core activation drills. Wearing a belt for a whole training session has adverse implications on the core strength.


reason 5- Just because others are wearing it

One of the most common reasons, lifters have been wearing those belts because other bodybuilders are wearing them. 

They might be wearing the belts because of some particular reasons but if you don’t feel the need to wear a belt then don’t wear it. Additionally, your core act as a major stabilizer which plays a very important role in supporting any movement, training without a belt will help in strengthening that stabilizer muscles that also improves your body’s basic functional abilities. 


Take away:

So we have discussed the different reasons behind the use of weightlifting belts while bodybuilding, some of the reasons were legitimate, and others were just myth. We hope you got your query cleared.

Whether you should be wearing lifting belts for the whole session? We are leaving that decision up to you. I would always choose the partial use of lifting belts only while super heavy lifting sessions, this helps in protect the spine and also reduces the possibility of leaving my midsection undeveloped.


Lifting belts FAQ

Is A Weightlifting Belt Necessary?

Yes, they are, but only when you are lifting around your one-rep max. 
Weight lifting belts are absolutely necessary if you are into Olympic weight lifting (cleans, snatches, etc). If you are a regular bodybuilder whose priority is to achieve maximum hypertrophy then you might not require to wear a lifting belt through the training session. 

When Should I Start Using A Lifting Belt?

You should start to incorporate lifting belts in the training routine when you start to pursue really heavy lifts like squats, deadlifts, overhead press. I personally suggest the use of a belt when a lifter starts to deadlift or squat with 1.5 times of their own bodyweight. 
Newbies should avoid going super heavy with weight training, instead, they should pay more attention to proper form and muscle activation. I have encountered newbies training with lifting belts, you guys should also allow your body to develop proper core strength to stabilize the compound movements. 

What’s The Purpose Of A Weight Lifting Belt?

The primary purpose of the weight lifting belt was to provide basic stabilization to the torso and spine. 
It was developed for the Olympic lifters and powerlifters who consistently lift heavy weights while training sessions. 
Weight lifting belts were never developed to support your arm curls or should lateral raises, lol.

Where To Wear A Belt And How Tight It Should Be?

Belt position can be a matter of personal preferences, I personally suggest lifters to wear the belt over the neval. Neval area is inline between your hips and your ribs and its also an area where you will be requiring to create optimum intraabdominal pressure. 

Powerlifting Vs Bodybuilding Belts.

Different kinds of belts are available for a variety of purposes. In comparison to powerlifting belt, weightlifting belts tend to be thinner and more streamlined on the front to prevent clipping of the bar.
Powerlifting belts are built quite thick to provide maximum support while super heavy lifts, they can be as thick as 13 mm. Let’s see what International powerlifting federation guidelines say: 


Check out a video on choosing the right weight lifting belt for you. 


Thanks for reading. Questions are welcomed in the comments as always. This site contains affiliate links as well as general health and fitness information. Please read my Medical Disclaimer and Writing Disclaimer for more information.   

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