Proper Guide to Powerlifting Belts - How to Properly Use

Powerlifting Belt

Always Take Pre-Caution and Safety Seriously

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A common question related to lifting belts revolve around where to buy one, how exactly it should be used for training purposes, how often should it be worn and more. Let's take a closer look.

Buying your first belt for powerlifting purposes can be quite an interesting purchase. Many brands and styles are available today. You can't simply go down to your local sporting goods store and buy a cheesy belt. An inferior belt will not get the job done in powerlifting. Your belt will be one of the most valuable pieces of equipment you will use as a power-lifter; therefore, you must make an educated choice when selecting the appropriate belt for your individual needs.

First, never buy the type of bodybuilding belt worn by gym idiots as a piece of jewelry. This type of belt is thick in the back, thin in the front, and everyone and your grandmother in the gym wears it without ever taking it off. This style of belt will not serve your purposes, as it will not provide the proper support your abdominal wall and lower back need when pounding out huge lifts.

Buckle Down

You need to get a power belt, which has uniform thickness. The usual thickness of a power belt is 13 mm, as this measurement conforms to the rules of most powerlifting organizations. Next you have to decide on the style of belt you want. Three major styles are available: the single-prong buckle belt, the double-prong buckle belt, and the lever belt.

The single- and double-prong buckle belts are thicker and much stronger than all other styles of belts but still very similar. If you are going to choose a prong buckle belt, you should go with the single-prong rather than the double-prong belt. Why? Imagine the following scenario. You are going for a max lift in the squat. Your knee wraps are incredibly tight. The straps of your power suit are over your shoulders, and you are about to explode from the amount of constriction put on your body at that moment. The last problem you want to have happen is managing to get only one of the two prongs in a hole. I have seen this mishap over and over, and it is what you want to avoid at a competition, where time is of the essence. I have also found that double-prong belts provide less stability than single-prong ones. Insofar as you decide to use a pull-style belt, stick with a single-prong one. It will give you fewer headaches and problems at the most critical times.

The lever belt is a favorite among many lifters because it yields even fewer problems than a prong buckle belt. A belt with a lever design is a customized belt-you have to screw the buckle harness into your belt at a point that corresponds to your waistline measurement. After you put the belt around your waist, you slide one part of the buckle into the holes on the other side of the belt. You can then keep your belt on like this, as it hasn't yet been tightened. Then when your time to lift comes, you simply flick the lever, and it latches in very tightly. What I like most about this belt is its convenience. The other belts I recommended require the assistance of your partner to put them on to their desired tightness. You can put on the lever belt unbelievably tight with a mere flick of the wrist. When you are at a contest, rushing to get all your equipment on before your next attempt, time is very critical because you can miss your lift simply by running the clock. The lever belt is extremely helpful during that time.

The Best of Both Worlds

I use all three styles of belts, as do many of my athletes. Some prefer the lever belt for squatting because of the way it sits on the powerlifting suit and complements the suit nicely in terms of function. For the deadlift many use the single-prong buckle belt. You will need to experiment with the lever belt and the prong buckle belts to see which you like best for each of the two power lifts. Next you have to make sure you purchase the best quality belt available. Some older belts did not have very strong buckles and rivets, and these parts sometimes blew out during heavy lifts, an event you do not want to happen when you have 700 pounds on your back.

I have used belts from all the manufacturers that make them, and one company I trust more than all the others. The company is Safe USA and makes its own line of shoes, belts and powerlifting equipment. Safe USA sells a prong buckle belt called the Ultra Belt. This belt is the best you will find on the market in terms of quality and workmanship. The Ultra Belt is incredibly tough and is the belt my lifters and I wear the most. It is 13 mm thick, made from very strong material, and will last you longer than you could ever imagine. I have had my Ultra Belt for more than 12 years, and it still looks new. This belt will probably be the only one you will ever have to buy. I can't see most lifters wearing it out, even if they are powerhouses. The Ultra Belt is popular with a number of lifters, especially those who can squat more than 1,000 pounds. If the belt is strong enough for them, it will certainly keep you in check. Those who are new to the sport and seeking a company to trust should put Safe USA on their list because this manufacturer is arguably the most reputable belt maker in the industry.

Core Values

How you incorporate the belt in your training is also a personal choice. The main point to remember is to build a strong core. If you wear a belt in your workouts all the time, your core will not be as strong as it could be. I have my lifters lift without one several months of the year to help strengthen this area of the body. You should also remember not to use a belt for lighter poundages. My athletes wear it when lifting weight that is 80 percent or more of their one-rep max. Lets assume you have squatted a 400-pound max. You should not put on the belt for any lifts less than 320 pounds. You also have to know how to use it. Many instructors teach you that you should suck your stomach in when lifting. This advice is completely wrong. You should force your abdomen out, into the belt, and then tighten the ab muscles hard. Doing so will create a wider core base, thereby protecting your spine to a greater extent when lifting heavy. This simple technique can mean the difference between making the max squat and being crushed into the ground by it. How tight your belt fits is another factor to consider. You should not be able to wear your belt throughout the workout, being worn so tightly that once you put it on, you do your lift and are then running to your partner to take it off before your head explodes.

You shouldn't act in the same way as those guys who prance around the gym talking to every Tom, Dick and Harry while wearing a belt as if it were some type of fashion statement. These people are idiots because they are getting no benefit from their belt. When you go buy your belt, choose one you think will best suit your needs. If you have the cash, get the prong buckle belt and the lever belt, and then see which is better. You will probably find that, as most lifters do, you like both and will use the belts according to what feels best during each type of lift. So until next month, lift hard and lift big. And if you see one of those idiots with his belt on for a three-hour workout, slap him upside the head for me with your new Ultra Belt.

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