The efficiency of weightlifting belts is definitely subject to controversies, and opinions about safety remain very divided. One main problem is that weightlifting belts allow athletes to lift more than they should. Another criticism against belts is that they back muscles responsible for body stability and the gripping muscles of the forearms don’t get the same stimulation and lose during training. In some other people’s opinion, weightlifting belts promote better stability and protection against various training risks. Normally, weightlifting belts have been designed to support the back effort and reduce the risk of damaging the spinal cord while exercising.
Pros claim that it’s a good habit to wear weightlifting belts particularly in competitions, although the equipment is widely available and used by amateurs too. By the support provided to the back, the spine remains in a good posture and no damage occurs at the level of the soft tissues; there is however a problem. The long term and short term impact of wearing weightlifting belts is pretty serious. These equipment items can increase the intra-abdominal pressure beyond accepted levels. While the intestinal muscles are protected against injury, hypertension may appear due to belt tightness.
Multiple belt designs are available, and adjustments are possible to the corresponding pressure level. When manufactured for power training, weightlifting belts incorporate special features for superior protection. Such belts are usually made of leather with neoprene braces. The belt model should be chosen according to physiognomy criteria and training objectives. Besides leather and neoprene, weightlifting belts are also made of nylon or cotton, and may be padded or not padded. The sizes on the other hand range from XS and S to XL and XXL.
Other than back protection, a weightlifting belt have no other contribution to the athletic performance. And despite the common belief that they help one train better, studies bring evidence against such opinions. Research conducted at the Albany Medical Center, N.Y., revealed almost no difference between the group of weightlifters who wore belts and the group who didn’t. Even without the much emphasized back protection provided by the belt, the back muscles have better chances of developing and increasing in strength. Even so, wearing weightlifting belts helps amateurs a lot, on the one condition that they not be worn extensively.