6 things for crossfitters to consider about a lifting belt
When you take crossfitting serious you will perform exercises like the front squat, back squat, deadlift, clean & jerk and snatch on a regular basis with increasing weight over time. These are my tips around weightlifting belts based on my personal experience, what I have read in Greg Everett's book "Olympic weightlifting" and on Mehdi's 5x5 Stronglift blog, seen on YouTube and in the gym for crossfitters thinking about a lifting belt.
Get confident with the movement before adding a belt
Learn the correct execution of the mentioned moves first under supervision or using educational material without a belt and not a lot of weight just using the barbell. This will ensure that you will feel good in your skin. If you start learning the moves with a belt on, you will rely on it too heavily and also not develop the necessary core strength to become the best version of yourself. If you can not perform the moves without wearing a belt due to restrictions, it might be good advice to skip lifting all together and work on body weight routines until you get the all clear from the doctor and feel good about learning the lifts without a belt on.
Get a belt once you start lifting considerable weight
"Considerable weight" can be defined in a million ways. Here is my personal guide for how and when i use a belt. There will be people who disagree with me and the best thing is you figure it out yourself, but i think this strikes a good balance between using a belt to progress with heavier weights while not getting too dependent on it. All these rules of thumb are to be taken into consideration for the first time you get to lift this amount of weight. Once these loads are not in your work set any more and move into your warm up, take the belt off for that load. If you do not know what I was talking about in the last sentence, you are not ready to get a belt.
0.75 x bodyweight for clean
0.5 x bodweight for front squat
1x bodyweight for back squat
1.5 bodyweight for deadlift
Get a belt with a good buckle
Based on my lifting I would say pay special attention to the buckle of the belt and that it is of good quality. The buckle is the most likely place to break, slide of you, spring open or have any other type of malfunction you can imagine. Usually this malfunction will occur at the points of highest pressure in your core during your lift, especially down in the hole during the front or back squat. This is the worst position to be in to have your equipment fail on you, as you will also most likely wear the belt for loads that challenge you anyway.
Get a belt which complies with Olympic guidelines
Olympic weightlifting and competition lifting allows for belts not wider as 120mm or 4.72 inches. Get a belt that complies with this to be able to prepare yourself for meets and not having to buy two belts.
Get a belt made of one piece of material
The more stitches, material, straps and stuff hanging of the belt which is not necessarily needed, the more points of failure are created. The belt should be made of one piece of material with a minimum of stitching. The stitching should be solid, of thick thread and have a good feel to it. Think of good tailoring, engineering or blacksmithing. The closer it is to be directly cut in shape out of the raw material, the better the quality (and usually the more expensive, as more skill and attention to detail is required).
Get a belt that is one size down from what you would usually get
A lifting belt should be as tight as possible on you without inhibiting blood circulation or breath. Sizewise this means it should be a wise decision to go one size down from what you would normally be getting. Worked for me, but if you really want to be sure work with your waist size and the measurements given by the producer of the belt.
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