BELTS STABILIZE AND REDUCE STRESS ON THE SPINE
Some studies confirmed that wearing a belt during weightlifting increased intra-abdominal pressure by up to 40%, while one study reported that compression of the intervertebral discs was reduced by 50%. Increasing intra-abdominal pressure is similar to inflating a balloon inside your abdominal cavity. The pressure inside the abdominal cavity pushes on the spine to support it from the inside, while the core muscles in the abdominal wall and lower back push on the spine from the outside. This inside and outside pressure acts to stabilize the spine and reduce the stress it receives when lifting heavy weights. This is how lifting belts can help to protect against back injuries during lifting. It's not due to the belt supplying the support, it's due to the way that the body reacts to the belt that supplies the spinal support.
BELTS CREATE BETTER BODY BIOMECHANICS
Research shows that when lifting, wearing a lifting belt reduces the amount of spinal flexion (forward bend at the spine), spinal extension (bending back of the spine), and lateral flexion of the spine (bending side to side), BUT increases the amount of flexion at the hips and knees. In other words, a belt forces you to lift more with your legs than your back, which is precisely the biomechanical position you want to use when lifting something from the ground. These are also the biomechanics you want to use during deadlifts and squats with a barbell.
BELTS BEGET BETTER PERFORMANCE
Will wearing a belt actually increase your power, strength, or muscle growth? Yes! According to some research, wearing a belt will help increase all the above, at least for lower body exercises like the squat. Studies found that the belt allowed heavy lifters to squat an average of 10 pounds more than when they weren't wearing the belt. Other studies have reported that the speed of the reps performed on the squat was about 10 percent faster when subjects wore belts versus when they didn't. This was especially true during the later reps of a set. This suggests that lifting belts may help increase muscle power and help better maintain that power throughout a set.
Some research has also shown that wearing a lifting belt during squats increases the muscle activity of the quadriceps and hamstrings muscles. Having greater muscle activity during an exercise can help to better promote muscle growth in the long run.
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