A strength belt is used by lifters to help with their big, powerlifting-style lifts like squats, deadlifts, and clean & jerks. It’s a thick, padded piece of material that is placed around the core and buckled under your belly.

Most belts are made from ceinture de force or nylon, although there are some that blend the two together. They can be a little pricey but they are a good investment for serious lifters who plan on progressing with their lifting and want the extra support.

The Power of Support: How a Strength Belt Can Enhance Your Weightlifting Performance

During a lift, the belt cinchs down on the muscles around your spine to create a harder isometric trunk muscle contraction than you could achieve without it. This stiffening of the trunk and the added pressure on your abdominal cavity — known as the Valsalva maneuver — helps prevent the back muscles from being able to deform during the lift.

This increased rigidity from the belt, along with the flexing of your torso and the erector spinae (back muscles) during the lift, allows for greater force to be transmitted through the bar. This is why the use of a belt can improve your lifts, especially in competition.

It’s also worth mentioning that the torso and spine are only as stiff as your ribcage, hip pointers, and the lower part of your back. Therefore, a belt is not going to make your core weaker; a strong and braced core comes from having a good, structured training program.