CrossFit athletes have started using the crossfit weightlifting belt for strengthening the core when working out.
If you haven’t heard of CrossFit, it is an intensive full body workout program with special exercises that ensure minimal effort produces maximum result.
I started researching on the CrossFit program when my efforts to gain muscle were thwarted for the umpteenth time. I had gained a total of 6 lbs of muscle after 4 months of dedicated weightlifting and dieting. Not what I was looking forward to. Despite complements from some friends, (others are too jealous to say anything directly) I still felt something was missing.
Although I was doing compound exercises such as deadlifts, squats and burpees to strengthen my core, the results weren’t as impressive. I quickly realized that I hadn’t tried a solid workout program with scheduled exercises.
The CrossFit program proved to be very useful as it also incorporated elements other than lifting weights e.g. cardio, rowing and their signature high intensity workouts. Basically, doing the exercises in a shorter time period will increase the effectiveness of the exercises.
Most CrossFit WODs (Workout of the Day) take about 45 minutes. I continued dissecting the CrossFit program for weeks in search of exercises to strengthen the core, which was my main goal. This is when I came upon the crossfit weightlifting belt.
I previously thought that these belts were only for Olympic weightlifters and I was surprised to learn that CrossFit athletes are using them. This was a real eye-opener for me and I knew I had found a gem in core strengthening workouts.
Who is the crossfit weightlifting belt for?
Of late, more elite CrossFit athletes are using support gear in their workouts as evidenced by the droves of athletes spotted using wrist wraps and weighted belts at the annual CrossFit Games this year.
But this doesn’t mean that any CrossFitter should rush to get a lifting belt. The truth is, most beginners will not gain much from using a lifting belt. Recreational athletes and novice CrossFit participants are better off improving their technique and getting more out of the workout by better quality of movements.
Relevant post: Beginner CrossFit workouts
Elite and intermediate level CrossFit athletes are better candidates for lifting belts. At such a level, you have already developed proper movements and mechanics and the body has learned to move heavier weights. It is a great piece of equipment if you wish to raise the bar and intensify your workouts.
Breath control is important when using the lifting belt. When doing deadlifts and squats while holding your breath, you should feel outward pressure on your abs against the belt. This does your abdominal muscles a lot of good.
Check our post: CrossFit Ab Workout
If you want a stronger core, using a lifting belt will exert pressure from outside as your diaphragm presses downwards towards your gut. This creates a lot of pressure which makes your core and spine more rigid. A 10mm belt is good enough for most CrossFit athletes.
The benefits of using a lifting belt
When used properly, the lifting belt will give the athlete feedback when lifting. This results in a more stable position for lifting weights.
Athletes who use lifting belts also benefit from a stronger lumbar column which is kept steady by the support from the back. This is especially true for core building exercises such as deadlifts and olympic lifts. Overhead lifts are also safer because the lifting belt prevents the spine from hyperextending. Abdominal pressure is also a plus for CrossFit athletes using the belt.
The lifting belt however may cause complications if you already had back problems because it only supports your lower back. The belt does not offer full spinal support and you should be aware of this.
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On the Internet, you will likely only get information on professional weightlifters use of lifting belts. This might not interest you if you are not a gym rat.
It takes some time to understand when to use a crossfit weightlifting belt. Especially with most enthusiasts disregarding the belt as “lazy” and “reduces your effort”.
After a ton of research, I found that CrossFit athletes can benefit from lifting belts, but probably on an advanced level. Get your movements right and work on your technique as a priority. When you have started adding more intensity and feel that you can achieve more from your WODs, then go for it!
And you don’t have to use it every day. It can help you out when doing box jumps, pull-ups, squats, cleans and snatches. You can keep it away when doing sprints. Be sure to maintain breath control for better results. Remember, your reason for doing CrossFit is to maximize results. And isn’t that what lifting belts are for?