WEIGHT LIFTING BELTS: MOTIVATIONS FOR USE : Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise

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Finnie, S B.1; Wheeldon, T J.1; Hensrud, D D.1; Dahm, D L.1; Smith, J FACSM1

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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 34(5):p S30, May 2002.
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To identify motivations for weight belt use in a group of health and wellness center members who strength train.


A weighlifting belt survey was designed to determine members' motivation for use of weight belts. Members were asked to complete the survey upon entrance to the health and wellness facility during a month-long period.


A total of 352 subjects (189 males, 156 females) aged 20 to 72 years (36.5 ± 10.7) completed the survey (7 did not specify). Of these subjects 27% (n = 94) were weight belt users and 73% (n = 258) were non-users. Ten percent (n = 9) of users were female and 90% (n = 83) male (2 did not specify gender). Of the non-users, 44% (n = 88) had previous experience wearing a weight belt. The primary reasons for wearing a belt among users and past users were to prevent injury (including hernia), lift more, mental reminder to lift correctly, and comfort. Among users, 16% (n = 15) had a current injury and 29% (n = 27) had a previous injury that they felt warranted the use of a weight belt. In both of these cases, over 90% of injuries were back injuries. Eleven percent (n = 10) of users reported having had an injury while wearing a belt. Weight belt users had been strength training for longer than non-users (3.59 yrs vs. 2.59 yrs, p < .0001). Non-users reported significantly more cardiovascular training sessions (days) per week than users (mean = 3.95 vs. 3.41 days, p < .05), while users reported performing significantly more days of strength training per week (mean = 3.63 vs. 3.15 respectively, p < .0001). Non-users were more likely to be beginners at weight lifting (p < .0001).


Overall, this study identified that 27% of the health and wellness attendees who strength train and responded to this survey currently use a weight belt. Weight belt use may increase with weightlifting experience. In the context of weight belt research, our data suggest that there may be misconceptions regarding weight belt use among the average belt user. Based on these findings, and the fact that research has found no consensus to the efficacy of weight lifting belts, it is proposed that lumbar stabilization education and appropriate exercises be prescribed, as opposed to recommending external stabilization of the spine via a weight lifting belt.

©2002The American College of Sports Medicine