Hang out in the grunting area of your gym, and you’re destined to find folks using lifting belts and joint wraps to excess. I read somewhere that these guys who wrap their knees, their elbows, their wrists and then cinch a weight belt around their waists begin to resemble mummies. Bodybuilding forums debate at length whether these lifting aids improve safety, or whether they simply help stabilize the ego by increasing the amount of weight that a person can lift.
What’s more interesting to me, however, are the guys who strap on a heavy-duty lifting belt as some kind of fashion statement. I’ve seen various levels of absurdity:
Stage 1) Belt on during bench presses. Seeing as you literally lie down on your back muscles during a bench press, the only reason to wear a belt is if you plan on violently arching your back in a frantic attempt to return the barbell to its starting point. This maneuver could be considered poor form.
Stage 2) Belt on during leg presses. This use of a belt is quite peculiar since you’re sitting down with your entire upper body reclining on a thick pad. I can’t imagine how a lifting belt does anything other than chafe against your hip flexors during the movement.
Stage 3) Now we’re entering deep madness. I once saw a guy tighten his lifting belt before performing a set of seated calf raises.
Stage 4) This is where you stop and stare. There was a guy at the gym today with his lifting belt on riding the elliptical machine. Not only is the elliptical machine lower impact than plain walking, but let’s face it: if your back is in such bad shape that you need a belt to remain upright, you should probably be in bed.
I considered following this guy into the locker room to see if he wore his belt in the shower too. But hey, I’m only willing to go so far for this blog.