Lifting belts are commonly used by strength athletes in disciplines like powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and strongman. Recently, they have become popular among competitive CrossFit athletes, and now more recreational CrossFitters are considering using them. Therefore, it is an important question: are lifting belts necessary for athletes while training?
The use of lifting belts is often associated with false beliefs, but when worn correctly, a belt can provide important tactile feedback when bracing and help create a stronger, more secure foundation for heavy lifts. Additionally, a belt prevents the lower back from rounding or the spine from making extreme motions when lifting weights above the head.
CrossFit offers a straightforward approach to fitness and some CrossFitters may not understand the point of wearing a lifting belt. However, during this year's CrossFit Games there was an unexpected number of athletes wearing items such as weight belts, wrist wraps, and knee sleeves to provide extra support. This suggests that the use of supportive gear is becoming more popular amongst CrossFitters.
For recreational CrossFit athletes, the use of supportive gear like a weightlifting belt is not necessarily a must. Instead of investing a belt, it is recommended to focus on improving form and flexibility to ensure good technique. If a recreational athlete is using CrossFit to stay healthy, a belt is likely not necessary as long as good technique is maintained.
Weightlifting belts can be beneficial for intermediate and advanced athletes. These athletes typically have better form, are stronger, and are more likely to take risks. A belt can provide extra support for an accidental slip-up, as well as tactile feedback and security. The belt allows them to experiment with their limits in a safe way.
When introducing a lifting belt into your exercise routine, it is advisable to warm up first without it. The lifting belt should only be used during heavier sets of exercise.