You probably already know that the fitness community is pretty much divided when it comes to the belt. Some believe that you need it, while others think that it hinders your progress. The main benefit of the belt is the increase of intra-abdominal pressure, as we already mentioned before. The weightlifting belt is quite effective at doing this and plays an important role. The pressure keeps your core rock solid while creating a safe session. You can still increase your intra-abdominal pressure by flexing your abs as you breathe, but a belt will increase that pressure significantly, giving your spine proper support.
Something that a weightlifting belt should not be used as is a back brace. However, if you are using your belt the right way, chances are that the strain your back endures will also be lowered, and you won’t feel so fatigued. Again, all of this ties back to the pressure we talked about. A high level of IAP keeps your core tight, thus reducing the strain on your lower back.
The belt can also be a good reminder to maintain proper lifting form. Maintaining proper lifting form can be easier said than done though – there are a lot of little things you should keep watch of, which is especially tough when you are lifting heavy loads. The belt will gently remind you to keep your abs flexed when you attempt the movements.
One thing the belts certainly do is allow you to lift more weight. Some people report being able to lift 10-15% more, instantly, just by wearing a belt! It will make you progress faster, making you bigger and stronger in a shorter period.
So as you can see, belts are quite effective aid. But there are still some things you must keep in mind if you do decide to wear a belt, to remain safe. If you suffer from hypertension or any other heart disease, a belt might not be such a good idea for you. Some studies have determined that wearing a weightlifting belt can cause a spike in blood pressure, most notably diastolic pressure. This spike is only temporary though, and it will be back to normal once you take the belt off. A belt can boost your confidence, and give you a sense of false security. It might be viewed as a good thing, but it can also be a drawback.
You might think that you can lift more than you can handle with the belt strapped around your gut, and you could injure yourself this way! A weightlifting belt can also limit the development of your lower back – at least that is what some people claim. It all boils down to how you use the belt. If you use it as a back brace, you will hinder the growth of the muscles of your lower back, but if you use it the right way, you will have no issues.