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Weight Belts For Bodybuilding: Should You Wear Them?

Nov 2, 2007
Bodybuilding is an incredible exercise program that does more for the body than just build up muscle and physique. Bodybuilding also strengthens the ligaments and tendons, the skeletal system, and burns more calories due to the increased metabolic rate of the body. Although using weight belts for bodybuilding workouts and routines is quite common, it is also controversial.

There are two opposing schools of thought amongst weightlifters and bodybuilders. Those who advocate the use of weight belts for bodybuilding believe that a weight lifting belt will protect the lumbar portion of the spinal column. There are also many who believe categorically that there is no place for the use of weight belts in bodybuilding. They think weight belts give individuals a false sense of security, and they cannot take the place of strong, functional core and trunk muscles.

Weight Lifting Belts - What Are They?

A weight belt is rigid and generally made from leather, but also can be made out of high-strength, durable nylon. A weight lifting belt is fastened around the bodybuilder's waist and secured in they same fashion as a normal belt. The part of the belt that crosses the small of the back is usually about six inches high.

The Pros Of Weight Belts For Bodybuilding

Bodybuilders who favor the use of a weight lifting belt during their bodybuilding workouts believe that the weight lifting belt will protect the lumbar portion of the spinal column from needless injury. They also believe that the thickness and width of the belt spanning the lower back can prevent injury to the all important back muscles.

Another benefit attributed to the weight lifting belts is that the stiffness of the belt acts as a reminder to the individual not to arch or bend their back when lifting. Bodybuilders who arch their back when lifting weights risk permanent damage to the spine.

For power lifters undertaking maneuvers such as squats and clean and jerk, the added support of a weight belt provides extra protection for the small of the back.

The Cons of Weight Belts For Bodybuilding

Bodybuilders opposed to the use of weight belts for bodybuilding believe that a weight belt cannot take the place of a strong, fully functioning core of trunk muscles. Weight belts can give the individual a false sense of security and safety, allowing poor form to creep into their workouts. They further argue that wearing of the belt causes needless pressure on the abdomen, which can increase the bodybuilder's blood pressure.

They also believe that the use of a weight lifting belt is counterproductive in building up the muscles of the lower back. Dependence on belt can weaken the small of the back rather than allow for its strengthening, which is one of the major reasons for taking up weightlifting or bodybuilding.

In a study of 50 male weightlifters done at Albany Medical Center in Albany, NY, researchers discovered that men not using weightlifting belts had more abdominal and back strength than the men who did use weight belts.

The bottom line? Whether you believe weight belts for bodybuilding are a good thing or not, if you have medical problems, injuries, or are new to exercising, check with your physician before starting any program. Follow your doctor's advice for your exercise and health safety and always remember, no matter how fit you are, to lift weights with caution.
About the Author
Jean Littman is co-owner of BodyBuilderWeb.com which provides quality tools and resources on bodybuilding, gaining muscle and losing fat.
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