Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Should I wear a belt?


Here is the Question:
Do olympic Lifters wear lifting belts?

The Answer:
Of course they do!
Just look - Iceland Annie, Rich Froning, Donny Shankle and others.

The reason that I wanted to talk about this was because I have recently had some questions about whether or not we should wear a lifting belt during our olympic lifts. While many athletes wear them in powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and strongman, lifting belts have only recently become more popular among CrossFit athletes. As a result, more CrossFitters are now beginning to question whether or not they need to wear a lifting belt.

Although everyone has their own opinions about the belts, there are many misconceptions about wearing them. A common misconception is that using a belt allows you to "cheat” and not properly brace with your abs and create an adequate amount of intra-abdominal pressure to maintain a strong, neutral spine. Using of a belt is actually quite the opposite. A lifting belt, when used properly, provides the athlete with a stronger, more stable lifting position. This helps to prevent the lumbar from rounding during exercises such as deadlifts and squats, as well as helps to prevent hyper-extension of the spine when lifting loads overhead like on a press or a Jerk.

CrossFit tends to promote an approach to fitness that is both functional and minimalist, so it’s easy to see why some CrossFitters might question the idea of wearing a lifting belt. Others might be inclined to adopt a piece of equipment they see being used by elite level competitors without understanding its purpose. This year during regionals and at the CrossFit Games I saw an overwhelming number of athletes (men and women) using belts and other gear to prevent injury and promote more efficient lifts.
So, the elite have adopted using this gear, but what about other CrossFitters? It all depends on that persons approach to training, mechanics and mobility. Although we all work to improve our technique and the quality of our movements, many of us also realize that using gear helps us get through heavy WODs during bouts of fatigue without jeopardizing bad form and promoting injury.

However, keep in mind, a lifting belt won’t fix your technique and it definitely won’t make you get that PR if you have been failing. If you do CrossFit just to stay healthy and fit, you probably don’t need a belt anytime soon either – just pay good attention to your lifting mechanics and stay within ranges that allow perfect mechanics.
Intermediate and advanced level CrossFitters should consider incorporating the use of a weightlifting belt. These individuals typically have much better mechanics, have developed greater strength, and have learned adopted the needed techniques to move heavier loads. These individuals are also more likely to push the envelope on when to stop due to loss of proper lifting mechanics. For these athletes, a lifting belt provides tactile feedback and a little bit of extra support in case a lift goes wrong.

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