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Gym Equipment That Actually Makes Sense

The good news is that you don’t really need much for resistance training, except access to weights (home or public gym), maybe some selected machines or if both is not available you can follow a good calisthenics or body weight exercises program. Generally, we prefer free weights such as dumbbells and especially barbells because you have to train with more degrees of freedom. As a consequence more muscles are involved in the various exercises.

Other than that you want to wear comfortable clothes (hi-tech compression shirts only make a difference psychologically) and flat shoes with as little cushion as possible. Cushion absorbs force. But in resistance training you want to create and exploit as much force as you can so you can move more volume. Some gyms will not object if you train barefoot or in socks.  

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The Most Effective Equipment: The Powerlifting Belt

The most effective equipment in our experience is the Powerlifting belt. It mainly helps you stabilize your core and lift more (especially when doing squats and deadlifts). A belt increases the intra-abdominal pressure as you create pressure between your abs and the belt by breathing in and holding your breath for the lift. This pressure -- also known as the Valsalva maneuver -- creates a rigid core and stabilizes your spine so you can lift heavier.

When Should You Wear a Powerlifting Belt?

You should not wear a belt as a beginner as you should first get the form right. You should be really comfortable executing the exercises and get stronger. Especially at the beginning you will see a lot of progress fast. This will slow down as soon as you reach an intermediate level. This is the right time to train with a belt. It will help you increase the load. Don't use it always, however. Train the majority of your sessions without the belt to stimulate all the muscles that would get less stimulus with the belt due to its stabilizing effect. 

Which Powerlifting Belt is Best?

The single most important thing is that the belt that has the same height all way round (as shown here). 10cm is a good height. This works like a tube and gives the required stability. The closing mechanism should be a prong buckle or a lever closure device -- not a velcro because it may open up when you put too much pressure on.  

How to Wear a Powerlifting Belt?

You should wear the belt pretty much over your navel. Put it on slightly less tight to begin with and make a test. You may notice that for the deadlift the belt may sit slightly lower than for the squat. Then when you go for your work set, the belt should sit nicely tight so that you can create this pressure. However, it can also be too tight, which you will notice when you cannot breath out enough to push your abs against the belt. 

The excellent Alan Thrall published a very useful video with a lot more details about Powerlifting belts. Go check it out.

If you find this interesting and wanna give it a go, we offer the same belt that we use ourselves in our 4legsfitness.com store

 


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