Strength training and heavy weight lifting are becoming more and more common amongst women these days. Hence why there's an increased popularity in cute lifting gear – like ours! More than ever before, women are loading up the barbell performing heavy squats, deadlifts, and other great compound exercises in an effort to gain full-body strength. The problem is heavy weight lifting can cause a huge strain on your joints and muscles, everyone struggles with this, including women. This is when lifting gear, like weight lifting belts, can make a huge difference in your training.
Weight lifting belts are commonly used in strength, power, and functional fitness sports, and were mostly used by male Olympic lifters, bodybuilders, and powerlifters. But now recreational lifters are starting to make use of these belts. They're typically made of leather, neoprene or nylon, and secure around your waist with either Velcro or a buckle. Despite what they look like, what do they actually do? And do women need to wear them for their heavy lifts?
Below is everything you need to know, including tips to help you find the best lifting belt!
Should women use lifting belts?
YES. In fact, anyone who's consistently performing heavy maximal lifts should consider using a weight lifting belt.
Because of the support they can provide! Weight lifting belts are most commonly known for giving your back support, but the way they actually work is much more complicated. The belt itself isn't giving you back support, it's the way the body reacts to the belt that supplies the support. Lifting belts work by wearing them around your waist, the stiff fabric or leather allows your torso to brace against it which in turn increases the intra-abdominal pressure. Increasing the intra-abdominal pressure is what helps supports your spine, which allows you to lift heavier weights safely. A good weight lifting belt will also form a rigid wall around your lower torso to help prevent hyperextension and any other bending and twisting of the back!
So, getting the right type of lifting belt and knowing how to use it is important! Misusing it or getting the wrong type can reduce the benefits a weight lifting belt can provide like...
- Minimize your risk of injury.
- Stabilize and reduce stress on your spine.
- Provide a sense of confidence and security when lifting heavy.
- Help you stay and in control for better form and technique.
Tips for choosing a good women's weightlifting belt
When it comes to looking for the best women's lifting belt, you should consider the most important features – width, material, thickness, and fastener system. You should also take into consideration your style of training. A casual weight lifter is not going to get the same belt as someone powerlifting or bodybuilding. That said, here are a few tips to help you find the best lifting belt...
Find the right width
The width of the weight lifting belt is the most important feature you want to look for because you want it to be wide enough so it's optimized for intra-abdominal pressure. If you're doing regular weight lifting, Olympic lifting, or barely starting out with heavy lifting then consider starting with a 4" width belt. It's the best for intra-abdominal pressure, and the tapered design (slightly wider in the back than in the front) helps it so that the barbell doesn't interfere with the belt during lifting. For those who are taller, a 6" width belt is also a good choice (however, this is more popular among men)! Powerlifters typically compete in strength and might require a different width to support their type of lifting. Powerlifting belts, unlike regular weightlifting belts, have a minimum 10" width and typically are the same width all around.
No width is wrong! It all depends on the type of lifting you'll be doing, and what fits most comfortably for you. Someone shorter might prefer a 4-inch wide belt for more mobility, while another might find a 6-inch wide belt more comfortable.
Choose a heavy-duty material
There are two main types of belts - leather and nylon weightlifting belts. We're not being biased, but leather lifting belts are a clear winner. Nylon belts aren't necessarily bad and can make for a great lifting belt, but they don't have the same longevity as leather or rigidity. They also don't provide sufficient internal pressure needed to stabilize your spine. On the other hand, leather lifting belts are more stiff and strong enough to provide sufficient and consistent intraabdominal pressure. Even the ones made from vegan leather have outstanding durability and are resistant to abrasions! And unlike nylon belts, they feature a single or double prong metal buckle for maximal security. So, although nylon belts have the benefits of being easily adjustable due to the Velcro, they can cause issues in the long run!
It all comes down to a matter of personal preference, but if you want to have a belt that's durable, will last longer, and provide sufficient pressure to stabilize your back then consider choosing a leather or vegan leather weightlifting belt.
The thicker, the better
Again, it'll come down to what's more comfortable for you when lifting, but if you really want to feel the pressure and get the support you need then opt for a belt that is 10-13 millimeters thick. Anything slightly thinner is okay as long as you can feel the pressure, but be careful, choosing one that is too thin won't provide you support or be durable enough to last long.
How can women use lifting belts properly?
Aside from choosing the best lifting belt, you want to make sure you're using it properly to get the most support for your heavy lifts! First, learn how to wear it properly so it's not too loose or too tight that it does more harm than good!
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to properly secure your lifting belt:
Wrap the lifting belt around your waist, right beneath your ribs so that the lower border is right above your belly button. Some prefer to lower it for comfort, but this won't provide you with the maximum back support needed.
- Before you tighten the belt and secure it, take a huge breath and brace your core muscles.
Secure the belt so that it feels slightly tight on your contracted muscles. You want a little bit of room in between your stomach and the belt, but not enough that your hand fits in between it.
The second thing you want to know is when to use a lifting belt. Despite what you may think, you don't need to wear a belt for every single heavy compound lift. A lifting belt doesn't compensate for a weak core. So, before even using a belt make sure you have sufficient core strength, full-body strength, and can perform heavy lifts with close to perfect form. This will ensure you don't rely too much on a weight lifting belt that other smaller muscle groups begin to weaken – like the pelvic floor muscles! Most don't know this, but using a lifting belt consistently can weaken a women's pelvic floor muscles which can be problematic. These muscles support your pelvic organs, including the bowel, bladder, and uterus, so you want to make sure that they aren't weakened.
To avoid relying on a belt and weakening other muscle groups only use a lifting belt while performing maximal or submaximal lifts in exercises that use the lifter's back as support for the heavy weight. So, if you're trying to hit a new personal record on your deadlifts or squats then secure your lifting belt beforehand! For those who need additional back support, you can use lifting belts when performing exercises that cause the back to hyperextend, like the shoulder overhead press. However, never use it to mask an injury. Using a lifting belt to cover your back pain will only make matters worse. Recover from any injury before hitting heavy weights again, you'll only cause more damage in the long run.
In summary, lifting belts can be a powerful training tool for men and women, and both can benefit from the tips above when searching for the best weight lifting belt. Technically, women's lifting belts aren't any different from their counterparts. The main difference is that women's lifting belts come in smaller waist sizes to fit female athletes. Like our lifting belts! UPPPER Lifting Belts are the ideal weight lifting belt for women because they come in three different waist sizes, various colors to choose from, and are made with a high-quality microfiber vegan leather that is breathable and built to resist any outstanding abrasions so they don't wear down fast. It also features a 4" width, internal padding, and secure in place with a double prong metal buckle and 10 rows of holes for easy tightening and optimal comfort and support. And they were rigorously tested by our entire team and our founder Iulia Danilova (Fit With Iulia) – so you know it's friendly for lifting ladies! 😉💪
Start training heavier, hitting PRs, and making progress while reducing your risk of injury with UPPPER Lifting Gear.
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