Without question, this belt sits at the top of the weightlifting belt pile. It offers the most solid and even feedback circumferentially, around the abdomen, obliques and back. If you are reaching for PR’s on Deadlift and Squats, you need a great belt. Warning – greatness comes at a price…
Why Do You Even Need a Belt?
In short – you don’t NEED a belt. It’s a misconception that they act like a brace to protect your back as you do heavy lifting. The belt itself offers no protection, and it’s purpose is not to strap you in like a corset.
Instead, a weightlifting belt’s purpose is to cue a very important action by the lifter. Whether it be squats or deadlifts, it’s critical that you appreciate the all-body compound aspect of these lifts. You need to create as solid a connection to the floor as you can, and ‘push’ against it with force to move the bar away. To do so, every link in the chain must be solid, with no leakage of power. Here lies the problem – peoples’ core is often asleep during these lifts, causing power to leak from the lift, force to be reduced, and placing the lower back in a compromising position.
Think about it this way – imagine your legs and upper body were made of steel, but your mid section (your core), was made of cloth. It doesn’t matter how strong your legs, chest and arms are, a weak disengaged core will leak out SO MUCH force transference from the floor to the bar, making you unnecessarily struggle and not realise your full strength potential. Moreover, your spine and lower back muscles are going to have to exclusively take the slack – a disaster waiting to happen when you start lifting heavy.
Introduce a Weightlifting Belt – To Remind You To Engage Your Core Muscles
Specifically, the idea of a belt is for you to not passively wear it, but instead actively push against it with your belly- i.e. to BRACE. Think of pushing your abdomen and obliques out, as if you were trying to pretend to have a big pregnant belly. Imagine trying to create a solid barrel with your midsection. In technical speak, you are looking to create maximum intra-abdominal pressure. What you are not trying to do is tighten your abs and suck everything in like you’re about to pose for a pic. Instead, think about trying to ballon out your midsection against the belt, circumferentially 360 degrees. When you do this, you’ve just created a mid section made of steel, and removed the weak link in your compound lifts.
When using a weightlifting belt correctly, you will be amazed with the immediate strength gains in your big lifts. It’s a game changer for those who have not been correctly bracing! You’ll not look back.
IMPORTANT: You DO NOT NEED a belt. You just need to replicate the sensation of correctly bracing your core circumferentially when you do your big lifts. You may use a belt as a tool to create this recruitment pattern, or you may stick one on when you get to 85% and above of your heaviest lift weight.
Issues with Other Types of Belts
To be fair, most belts can start to introduce and cue correct form and bracing. Something is usually better than nothing.
Problems with most belts on the market:
- Velcro and neoprene belts – These really don’t do much at all. they are about comfort and the illusion of value, than actual benefits in your lifts. Plus, these are cheap and likely to break/pop open when put under progressive pressure or used constantly
- Contoured Belts – These are ones which are wider at the back and narrower at the front. The allow greater midline flexibility and therefore comfort when worn for continued periods of time. Kinda defeats the point when you want stiffness of your midsection. I’d recommend this type more for Olympic Lifting and CrossFit-style WOD’s.
- Single and Double Prong Leather Powerlifting Belts – As I’ll mention below, these straight and uniformly wide belts, typically made from which 11 or 13mm real leather, are best at given you what you need – a rock solid wall to push against. The problem with Prong belts in my opinion is that the holes are too far apart, offering a lack of size configurability. Plus, they can pinch as you try to winch them on, and have to be taken off completely between lifts.
- Most Other Powerlifting Lever Belts – Lever belts offer a solution to the Pronged belts as stated above. They are made of the same materials and style, but with a lever belt you just shut at point of lifting, and then open up after the list. Super easy to close, and the belt can stay around waist during rest periods. There’s a big problem though – you need to get out a screwdriver overtime you wish to make an adjustment! Faff! Think about when you wear thicker tops, waist increasing/decreasing, and the need to wear the belt in different places dependant on the lift.
THE SBD BELT – The Best of The Best
The SBD Belt solves for all of the above. Moreover, if you like to use the best, and get the strongest signal back from a belt when you lift, then you need to seriously consider the SBD belt. In my words, this is because:
- Featuring a Patent-Pending lever buckle, that allows for quick open/close, no need to take off between sets AND the ability to adjust the waist diameter on the fly! No other belt does this.
- Super thick high quality 13mm English hide and 10cm Wide throughout
- Superb quality manufacture and finish – from the black oiled leather finish and the metal buckle to the red suede interior
- So Robust and IPF Approved – This will last you a life time, and is meets the standards within competitions (should you be that way inclined)
It’s amazing! I’ve worn a few other belts before, and in comparison, I may have well been wearing a dress belt.
You can find the SBD Belt here.
There is no such thing as perfection though…
For all of it’s benefits, there are a couple of downsides to the SBD Belt:
- It’s super expensive – About £160. You get what you pay for, but it does make it one of the most expensive belts on the market
- Can be a little uncomfortable at first – Especially if you like to train without a top on. It will flex and adjust to the contours of your torso in time, so bear with the first few wears.
- It’s so stiff – not good if you expect to be moving around – As in, this would not be good to be continuously worn during a CrossFit-style WOD.
Follow this blog as it unfolds, and we deliver more honest and practical experiences. Comment if you have questions or ideas.