Proper Ways of Using a Weight Belt
There are two main reasons why some lifters choose to use a weight belt:
- It reduces stress on the lower back while the person is lifting in an upright position and prevents back hyperextension during overhead lifts.
- Wearing a belt causes the lifter to be more aware of the position of his/ her back. This is because the physical sensation of a belt against the skin provides additional information prompting the lifter to consider his/ her back position and what muscles must be activated to maintain good posture.
Best Ways to Use a Weight Belt
A belt must be worn tightly to maximise its usefulness. This is physically taxing and should not be done for long periods of time. Research has shown that wearing a tight belt during exercise can elevate blood pressure. For this reason belts should only be used on two occasions:
- When performing maximal or submaximal lifts in exercises such as the squat or deadlift, in which the weight is supported by the lifter's back.
- While performing exercises, such as the military press, which may cause the back to hyperextend. The belt should be loosened to allow blood pressure to return to normal levels in between sets.
Squatting With Weight Belts
Many lifters complain of their knees collapsing in when they complete squats. One common solution is to squat with a lifting belt around the lifter’s thighs, pushing out against it whilst performing squats. This solution is founded upon the belief that this knee buckling is caused by weak hip abductors.
Unfortunately this measure can be counterproductive. Doing this exercise this way essentially recruits the hip extensors, sending confusing messages to the brain. Doing squats this way, you’ll end up using minimal poundages and fail to overload the hip extensor chain adequately. As a result, you will fail to fix the issue at hand.
The root of this problem is likely to be that the vastus medialis is weak and/or adhesions between the adductor magnus and the medial hamstrings are present. These particular symptoms are common in hockey players and figure skaters.
How Can This Problem Be Corrected?
Explore the training methodology of strength expert and author Charles Poliquin to learn how to effectively train the vastus medialis. Otherwise, you could seek the help of a qualified soft tissue practitioner.