Weight lifting belt is used in weight training. The purpose of weight lifting belt is to reduce stress on lower back muscles
Classical weight lifting belts are made of leather. The belt’s width is variable. The narrow part is placed around the abdominal region and the wide one near the back. The belt's shape was designed so as not to hinder weightlifters while exercising (“snatch” and “clean and jerk”). Generally, the portion of the belt that crosses the small of the back is approximately fifteen cm (six inches) in height.
Sometimes, lifting belts used in gyms are also called weight lifting belts. These belts can be of various forms and made of different materials
The belt is usually used in exercises where the lower back gets a heavy load, like a squat or a dead lift. There are mixed reviews regarding the usage of weight lifting belts. On one hand the belt decreases stress on stabilizer muscles, but on the other hand these muscles get less benefit from the same exercise.
A weightlifting belt has two main purposes. It reduces stress on the lower back while the person is lifting in an upright position and prevents back hyperextension during overhead lifts. A belt reduces low back stress by squeezing the contents of the abdominal cavity. This increases the intra-abdominal pressure (IAP), providing more support in front of the bones of the lower back. This allows the spinal erector muscles, which would normally provide this support of the lower back, to produce less force during the lift. Another benefit of increased IAP is a reduction in the amount of spinal shrinkage (lower back compression) a lifter may experience during circuit weight training. Some belts have a wide back and a narrow front. Therefore, it would be advisable to wear the belt backwards if increased IAP is desired, as the area gives the contents of the abdominal cavity more surface area to push against.
The belt prevents back hyperextension by forming a rigid wall around the lower torso, connecting the rib cage to the hip. This not only limits back movement, but it also prevents sideward bending and twisting. A power lifting-style belt that is the same width all the way around would be ideal for this purpose. Otherwise, a conventional belt can be worn in the usual manner with the wide part of the belt in the back.
Weightlifting belts can help support the back by increasing intra-abdominal pressure and preventing back hyperextension. They are most effective when used for maximal or sub maximal lifts in which the spinal erector muscles work against heavy resistance. However, many ill effects, such as high blood pressure and abdominal muscle weakness, may result from improper use of weightlifting belts. They should be used sparingly in training.
Wearing a belt also causes the lifter to be more aware of the position of his or her back. This is because the physical sensation of a belt against the skin provides additional information prompting the lifter to consider his or her back position and what muscles must be activated to maintain good posture. In this case, the belt does not need to be worn too tightly for an effect. Some lifters report feeling more secure and confident while wearing a belt even if IAP and muscle activity are unaffected.
However, a belt must be worn tightly to maximize 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 primary occasions. The first is when performing maximal or sub maximal lifts in exercises such as the squat or dead lift, in which the weight is supported by the lifter's back. The second is 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.
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