Can someone explain the point of a weightlifting belt? Should i use one?
On near maximal efforts lifts where the lower back could become a weak point, it serves to add support to the area and prevent injury. I tend to use it on heavy (3RM or greater) squats or deadlifts if I use it at all.
I'll begin by saying that, if you don't know the point of something, then no, you shouldn't use it. This goes for equipment, supplements, and a bunch of stuff.
Basically, a weightlifting belt can help you brace your abs/back/core to give you a more stable torso while lifting. This can help when you're lifting maximal loads (really heavy fuckin' weights) by helping you engage your abs to prevent injury and increase strength.
As a beginner, I'd say you don't need one quite yet, especially if your goals are more towards muscle size/fat loss than powerlifting/strength. Focus on building total body strength (which includes the abs, low back, and hips). Once you start lifting relatively-heavy weights with good form, you can consider using a belt occasionally.
Many (most?) coaches believe you can "build" your own belt through consistent ab/core work, which makes a weightlifting belt unnecessary in many cases. Do some reading, experiment in your own training, and eventually decide for yourself.
Chris has good info there indeed.
Personally, I advocate not using a belt. Again, as aforementioned, getting a strong mid-area (I refuse to say the C word) will take care of itself. I consistantly do heavy squats (>5) without a belt and will also pull heavy deads (>3) without one. Never had an issue. I also know quite a few very large fellows who never use belts either.
You should treat it like any other performance enhancing gear (shirts, wraps, straps, etc.). Its there to help you overcome weakness in a specific aspect of a lift, not necessarily as a means of injury prevention.
"I was never a big fan of weight belts for non-powerlifting athletes before this year. This is because I feel that strength-training WITHOUT a weight belt is probably the best abdominal â??exerciseâ?? that an athlete can do. Well, I STILL feel the same way, but I finally realized that wearing a belt for 1 or 2 heavy sets of squats or deadlifts will NOT take away from abdominal strength gains; In fact, it's quite the contrary!
Learning how to properly use your belt will make your abs stronger, as well as drastically reduce your chances of injuring your low-back during heavy squats & deads. The key is learning how to PROPERLY use the belt. You must learn to fill your stomach with a ton of air while pushing your abs OUT, expanding them against your belt. (Do NOT pull your belly button inward!)
The cue that I use with my athletes is to inhale and â??make yourself fatâ?? before descending into the squat. (You are acting as if youâ??re trying to break your belt with your stomach.) Then, you want to hold your air during the entire rep. (Exhale slightly only if you have to.) This technique will not only stabilize your spine by increasing the intra-abdominal pressure, it'll enable you to lift more weight! (I had 4 different kids PR last week in the box squat after learning how to use a belt for the first time!)
In order to properly perform this technique, you want to use a power belt that is as thick in the front as it is in the back. This enables you to push your abs into the belt better."
the purpose of a weight lifting belt is to ease pains and strains when lifting typically heavy weights
such as squatting and dead lifting
I saw someone wearing their belt on their arms doing, doing nothing but biceps and triceps exercises.
Doesn't weight lifting 101 tells you NOT to hold you breath? Only does it only apply to non serious athletes?
You can't hold your breath for 10 reps, but you can for one. Holding your breath when moving a weight is good for stability - crucial for a 1 RM. The problem is that when you hold your breath for 8-12 controlled reps, you could probably have moved more weight with better form if you hadn't.
With a belt: its how you use it! by pushing your abs against the belt, the strength from your legs transfers better to the bar, as that what people call your core - abs and back - becomes more stable. This stability also protects your spine, as it supports your lower back, which is in many cases the weak muscle group of a squat / deadlift (as written above)
So, if you would not hold your breath, not only would your core become less stable - the belt would not be able to give the support you wear it for.
I perform so much better when holding my air in on squats and deadlifts. I don't personally consider this the same as holding my breath as I'll often let out a 'bit' of air during the concentric portion of a squat for instance when I'm really pushing it. (Did a high rep set last night and reps 8-12 were accompanied by a Sea Lion style bark :D)
Anywho, I find taking in a belly full of breath at the top of the squat then doing 1-2 reps then taking another breath is best for me. Similarly for deadlifts If I'm doing more than 3 reps I'll take a big belly full prior to my first rep, bust out 1-2 reps then take another belly full while standing with the weight in my hands. I don't feel like I can fully inhale while bent over the weight and so I've stopped doing that.
That's just the way I do it. As always with posts in this forum - I'm a beginner; might be bad advice, take this post with a nice dusting of salt.