Oscar’s Training Articles – Weight Belts


The use of weight belts in the gym are common and they are most often used for higher percentage lifts. If you don’t use a weight belt and are curious about if it will help you, this article will provide some guidelines on how to use it. For those of you who use a weight belt regularly this information will apply to your training as well. Stuart McGill is a professor of spine biomechanics and the information is adopted from a review he wrote for the National Strength and Conditioning Association in 2005.

There are a couple of things to consider when using weight belts and this is what the effect have on people wearing them in an occupational setting:

  1. Those who have never had a previous back injury appear to have no additional protective benefit from wearing a belt.

  2. Those who are injured while wearing a belt seems to risk a more severe injury.

  3. Belts give people the perception they can lift more and may in fact enable them to lift more.

  4. Belts increases intra-abdominal pressure and blood pressure (temporarily)

  5. Belts can change the lifting style of some people to either decrease the load on the spine or increase it.

The best protection against spine injuries is to have a proper movement mechanics. The spine should always be in a stabile neutral position when lifting weights. The belt will help you to lift more weight by increasing the intra abdominal pressure (core stiffness), and it will most likely not decrease the risk of injury.

The belt should not be used if you already have a high blood pressure. The belt may prevent a false sense of security so make sure that your technique is dialed in because the belt will not protect you from injury. The belt should be used as little as possible and be a supplemental tool in your training, not a crutch. Try and use the belt for the top sets only (heaviest ones). The belt should be loosely fitted around your abdomen when you are relaxed, “When you do your lifts with a belt make sure to push your abs against the belt as hard as you can. You should also bring in as much air as possible and keep it in until you get back up” (Louie Simmons).

The most effective way to avoiding any injury and performing well in the gym is to have good lifting technique. Please ask me or any of the coaches if you have questions about your form or whether you are using the belt properly.


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Oscar Isacsson, CSCS
CrossFit TNT Coach