Recently we were tasked with doing a three rep max in my class at San Francisco CrossFit. Jami Tikkanen, who does our strength programming, had us doing a gentle but consistent lifting program for the previous 6 weeks and now it was time to get a grasp of where we had progressed to.
At the beginning of the class, I pulled out my three belts and gave a quick spiel on when to start using a belt, why you should consider using a belt, which ones I like to use and which ones are popular with different people. Here is what I covered in a little more detail:
Won't I get stronger/ won't my core be stronger if I keep lifting without a belt?
What a belt actually does is allow your core to brace against something, thereby actually creating MORE core muscle engagement than without a belt. That means your core can get stronger using a belt than not using a belt.
Now that your core is bracing against something and is better engaged (ie: GET TIGHT!) your body can put more focus on the task at hand, be that pressing, pulling, or squatting. That's a big reason that weights feel "lighter" when you put the belt on, bracing happens more fully and attention can be paid elsewhere.
Not for the beginner athlete. It's important for those new to training to learn position and proprioception and not rely on a belt to create that sensation for them.
And not all the time either. Even if you usually lift with a belt, it's good to lift without one occasionally and see if your strength gains are universal. For me they certainly are, and it's nice to test/know.
I tell people that they should start using a belt when they feel like they want to. They've progressed far past the point of a beginner's easy gains, and they are starting to feel the taxing nature of a consistent strength program.
Even then, I suggest they don't put on the belt until they are around 80-90% of their working weight for that session. I suggest this so that they both get the unbelted experience, and it's a nice mental relief when the belt goes on and the weights are already heavy.
Tight. Not "cinch your body in half" tight, but you shouldn't have to distend you stomach at all to brace against the belt.
I suggest to first timers to hand tighten it around the smallest part of the torso, then push it down over the lower part of the stomach to make it a little tighter. Shove how ever much of a power belly you have over top of it.
If you're using a thicker belt, you might have to use a post to help get it undone simply because of how stiff they are. I never use a post with my thinner, more flexible belts.
|Side view FYI|
Go forth and get swole!