Five tips for making the most of your belt:

1. Use your belt effectively:

Let’s clear up a misconception here. A belt’s primary function is not one of supporting your back per se, as commonly believed. Instead, it aids you to increase intra-abdominal pressure, which in turn acts as a brace to support and strengthen your spine. To use your belt effectively, you need to use the Valsalva maneuver. This involves take a large breath of air into your belly (not your chest), and trying to exhale forcefully with a closed throat. This will push your belly out into the belt, which will help increase the pressure build up around your midsection.

2. When to wear your belt:

When the going gets tough, the tough wear a belt. I’m not suggesting you wear a belt for all your warm-ups sets. But when it starts to get hairy, add the belt. In fact, I would advocate wearing the belt prior to the sets that matter. Breathing hard against the belt is a skill that needs to be practiced, especially when performing continuous repetitions.

3. How tight to wear your belt:

As we have discussed, a good lifting belt is designed to increase intra-abdominal pressure and stabilize your whole midsection. To create this pressure you need to contract your abs against the belt. To make this possible, wear your belt one hole looser than as-tight-as-it-can-go. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to get your hand between your belly and the belt.

4. Where to wear your belt:

The basic answer to this is, where it does not impede your lift. The bottom of the belt should not get wedged into your hips when they are flexed. Neither should the top of the belt push against your ribs. Wear it in a position that is comfortable, whilst allowing you to create the necessary pressure against it. You may find this position is slightly higher when pulling from the floor.

5. What to wear your belt for:

In terms of movements, we are talking the big compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, and presses), and also the Olympic lifts along with strongman exercises such as the yoke and farmer’s walks. All these movements are fundamental to building strength. Any movements that can be classified as such, as we have seen, are best performed with a belt for maximum weight and maximum benefit.

Whatever your ultimate goals, it is worth knowing and understanding how to make the best use of this highly effective tool to aid you on your journey. Buckle up!

Credit to Chet Morjaria of Breakingmuscle.com