Are Weight Belts Necessary or Are They Used to Compensate for Body Alignment Issues?
If you spend enough time in your gym you’re bound to see someone using a weight belt. Whether it’s on the squat rack, doing deadlifts, or wearing them throughout the workout, I’ve always found it strange how people use these belts. Are these belts still necessary or are they being used to compensate for poor alignment?
Weight belts are used for various reasons, some lifters use the belt to protect their lower back and provide extra stability while performing heavy lifts. I acknowledge that there are heavy lifters who stand by the use of the weight belts. What confuses me is everyone else who wears the belts for just about everything else. It makes me question if the weight belt is a necessity and I believe it’s being used as a cover for poor alignment and incorrect lifting technique.
I don’t stare at people while I train, but I have noticed a few odd behaviors over my time. I’ve witnessed lifters who seem to wear the weight belt throughout their entire workout while others seem to need it before they begin. When someone needs to use a weight belt to grab some weights off the weight rack, or rely it on it for everything, I believe there’s probably a deeper problem that the weight belt can’t fix.
Check your posture
I want to reiterate something; if you need to rely on the weight belt for your entire exercise routine then there may be a deeper issue. Many lifters have poor body alignment and employ improper lifting techniques. No matter how good your weight belt looks or feels, or how much it prevents you from bending in the wrong direction, if you have poor alignment you’re going to get injured. No weight belt can correct poor form and bad technique; you need to fix your posture.
Does it really protect the lower back?
The short answer is “Yes” the weight belt does provide protection. It helps stabilize the spine and is supposed to prevent hyperextension of the lower back. However, the problem I often see isn’t related to hyperextension, it’s lifters who bend forward/curve their spine while lifting weights. The weight belt is being used to compensate for bad form here, because the lifter may feel they can get away with bending and turning incorrectly because the belt is securing their spine.
If you need a weight belt for stability, you need to examine your form and body alignment
Some lifters have opted to use the belt because they know they have poor form and need the belt to stop them from leaning in the wrong direction. If you need a weight belt to help maintain proper form throughout your workout or even on heavier lifts, it may be time to examine your posture and body alignment. Do you really need the weight belt or are you relying on it because you don’t know how to stabilize your body and maintain proper alignment?
Here are some other questions to get you thinking more about this:
- What would happen if lifters fixed their body alignment and corrected their form?
- Is relying on the weight belt causing more harm than good in this case?
- Do some lifters rely too heavily on the weight belt to lift the weights?
- Is relying too heavily on a weight belt a sign of balance and strength issues?
- Are lifters obtaining complete strength by needing the weight belt to lift the weights?
Before I continue, I want to say that I understand people who want to wear a weight belt just for added safety reasons. This is different than relying on the device to lift the weights. If you absolutely need a weight belt to perform a technique, it’s either highly dangerous, too heavy, or it’s because your form and body alignment aren’t where they should be and you’re concerned you could become injured.
Should we use weight belts?
It’s debatable whether we should use them, but it’s time to look into posture and body alignment, and work toward correcting form so using the device doesn’t feel like a necessity. I also believe we need to focus on muscular balance and the ability to have a high kinesthetic awareness so when we’re performing a movement we can tell when our body is struggling to maintain alignment.
What do you think? It’s something I’d love your feedback on and I’ve created a survey to give you a chance to share some of your thoughts on it.
*This survey is closed now, you can view the summary of survey results here