How Much Should You Squat And Deadlift Based On Weight How Weightlifting Belts Work And What Weightlifting Belt to Choose

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How Weightlifting Belts Work And What Weightlifting Belt to Choose

A weightlifting belt primarily supports your abs, not (directly) your back. It sounds backwards, but here’s why: the belt acts as another set of abs to prepare your entire body to lift heavy loads.

To prepare for the super-heavy lifts, you take a deep belly breath and hold it, a method of “breathing” called the Valsalva maneuver. The Valsalva maneuver helps create intra-abdominal pressure that cushions and supports your spine. And this is where a weightlifting belt gives its strength. With a lifting belt, you draw your deep abdominal breathing into the belt, which pushes back against your abdominal muscles. This amplifies the effects of the intra-abdominal pressure and in turn helps protect your back and allows it to handle the stress of heavier loads even better. Weight lifting straps are a secure way to secure your bar in place and prevent slipping.

Wearing a belt by itself will not automatically increase your strength and lifting ability. There is a learning curve to wearing it and lifting with it on (just as there is a learning curve to being able to apply intra-abdominal pressure and lift correctly). Sure, some may reap the benefits right away, but it will take most a while for things to click.

When you put on a belt and use it right, the sky will part, the birds will sing, and your deadlifts or squats (or both) will get a noticeable boost. Greg Nuckols of Strengtheory.com found that well-trained belt users can generally move 5-15% more weight for the same sets and reps, be able to push an extra few reps with the same weight, or lift the same weight for the same number of repetitions with less effort. It is quite significant!

We can take this to suggest that over time training with a belt is likely to make you stronger than training without a belt. This makes sense in the context of being able to do more overall “work” (ie lift more weight and pound more reps) and continually push your body to improve, a process called progressive overload. In the long term, you can gain more muscle size and strength.

A weightlifting belt can be used for squats, jerks and deadlifts. Experienced lifters put the belt on for near-maximal effort and take it off for regular training and warm-ups. Generally, “near-max” is a weight that is 80% or more of your maximum lift. The exact percentage is often arbitrary, so put it on when you think you really need the extra support on big lifts.

How to wear a weightlifting belt?

1) Breathe (hold it)

2) Place the belt in place and brace the abdominal wall

3) Pull the belt just tight enough to slightly restrict your braced stomach position for maximum benefit

Weightlifting belts will be uncomfortable for a while, especially as you learn to get used to one. But once you get comfortable with your belt, you can start experimenting with changing the position of the belt on your torso. For example, Omar Isuf, a strength and performance coach, says that experienced belt users tend to wear the belt higher on their torso during a deadlift than they do during a squat. More specifically, in a deadlift, it may be more comfortable to wear it around the middle of the stomach. During a squat, you like it over the iliac crest.

You also want your belt to be tight enough to stay in place while you lift, but not so tight that you cut off full, deep breaths or circulation. The clothes you’re wearing and even down to how much water you’re holding can affect how tight you need to pull the belt. If you’re just learning, it’s okay to wear it a little looser until you learn to love its not-so-tender embrace. Finally, remember that your new belt must be broken in the same way as a shoe.

Happy lifting!

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