The three most common types of weightlifting belts that you will usually see are a sturdy powerlifting belt, a velcro cloth material belt, and an old school bodybuilding leather belt.
Cloth style belt is not going to provide as much support as the bulky powerlifting belt, but is ideal for anyone doing the Olympic lifts, Snatch and Clean and Jerk. The reason being this cloth style belt is going to provide enough support, but it’s not going to get in the way of that second pole on the Clean and Snatch as the big bulky powerlifting belt would. And the old school bodybuilder lifting belt should never be worn by anyone.
A good weightlifting belt will provide an even amount of material around your entire core. Before we get into how to use a belt, let’s talk about the purpose of a lifting belt. A lifting belt prevents your stomach from sagging forward, which in turn prevents your lower back from hyperextending. The lifting belt helps your abdominal muscles and your lower back do their job. Think of it as an extra set of abs.
Before we go any further, you need to learn how to breathe before using a lifting belt. You need to focus on breathing down into your belly. Do not breathe up into your chest. Your belly should expand full of air, and this will push your stomach out. You want to make sure that while you’re breathing into your stomach, your lower back is staying neutral. You don’t want to simply hyperextend your back and push your stomach out. Before each repetition, you should take a big gulp of air into your stomach.
The pressure in your belly is called Intra Abdominal Pressure. The act of creating an Intra Abdominal Pressure is called the Valsalva Maneuver. Here’s a drill to help you learn how to breathe in your stomach. Lay on the ground with your knees up. Make sure your lower back is in contact with the ground. Place a plate on your stomach. Now take a big breath into your stomach and try to raise the plate towards the ceiling. Now that you understand how to breathe, you are ready to use a belt. Your belt should be snug around your stomach, but not so tight that it pulls your belly in. Pulling your stomach in too far completely defeats the purpose of wearing a belt. As your stomach sucks in, your lumbar spine flexes over or rounds. Your belt should be something that you can press your belly against for added support.
Don’t wear it for your speed days. Don’t wear it for high rep days. Wear it when you’re handling over 90% of your one rep max.
Video Tutorial: Powerlifting VS Weightlifting Belt – How To Wear It