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Below are some of the most common questions:
This post is to address several recurring questions. The ones included today won’t be of interest to everybody but they are SOME the most frequently asked.
Should I use a weight belt?
Contrary to popular belief, the purpose of a weight or lifting belt is not to support your back.
The purpose of the belt is to give your body’s core muscles (Rectus abdominis-the “6 pack”, transverses abdominis-the abdominal muscle behind your “6 pack”, obliques, and spinal erectors) something to push against so that these muscle groups are better able to stabilize your spine and other areas.
Some experts believe the use of a belt prevent these muscles from developing to their fullest potential thus making your core weaker than it could be. From a “functional” standpoint they may have a point. If, for example, you have a very strenuous occupation involving heavy lifting outside the weight room or, if you engage in other activities with similar risk.
Others believe that if the belt aids you in lifting more weight more often that the strength of those muscles is not adversely affected and may actually become stronger. And you will definitely become stronger overall. The other side of that coin is if you are injured you may miss time in the gym.
I have not seen any scientific studies on the subject or other evidence supporting either argument.
I usually do not use a belt until I reach a weight approaching about 85-90% of my max. Or if have any soreness or discomfort in my back or other core areas.
Should I use Lifting Straps?
Like the question regarding the use of a weight belt, opinions are split.
Your grip is usually the weakest link in any pulling movement. Some say using straps limit the strength gains for your grip thus limiting your total capacity for the lifts.
Others say using straps removes the weakest link from the lift allowing you to lift more weight thus increasing overall strength.
My opinion: Don’t use straps until your grip fails. Then, grab the straps and continue raising the weight.
As an example, the dead lift works practically every muscle group from your scalp to your toes. The dead lift is the single best exercise for adding strength. Why would you let one weak link limit that potential?
Sure, you need to strengthen you grip. But there a myriad of other exercises that can do that and do it more efficiently.
I follow the same logic on all pulling exercises. Though there are only a few where the issue comes into play. (T-bar row, heavy dumbbell row, heavy farmer’s walk). But only use them when a lift fails solely because of your grip.
Using straps on every pulling exercise won’t add grip strength. Plus, you’ll look like a tool!
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