At one point every lifter will ask, “should you wear a belt when benching?”
Sure, a belt is very beneficial on squats and deadlifts. Just how useful is it to wear one while performing the bench press? This article will break down all the pros and cons of using a lifting belt for benching.
Should you Wear a Belt When Benching?
Wearing a belt while benching improves confidence, supports the back arch, and reduces injury. It is not for everyone. Give it a try and see if it helps you.
Benefits of a Belt When Benching
- Improves confidence
Wearing a belt makes you more confident under heavy weight. This is because you aren’t scared of injury. Lifting is a very mental game. If wearing a belt convinces you that you can lift more, than you often will.
Wearing a belt also serves as a reminder to tighten your body. The tight feeling of the belt against your core and back will remind you to tighten up. The tighter your body remains, the more weight you can bench press.
- Helps support bench arch
You should always have a slight arch in your back while performing the bench press. That is because it pulls your shoulders back and places more emphasis on the chest. You don’t want the shoulder to take over the movement. This can cause shoulder injury.
You can also move a lot more weight with an arch as the barbell does not have to travel as far. This results in more weight overloading the chest, and increased muscle growth.
An arch will also help incorporate leg drive. This is very important in the bench press and will help you bench more weight. As the weight touches your chest, press through your legs as you press the weight back up.
The back muscles work hard while supporting the arch under heavy weights. This is where a belt comes in, supporting your back muscles.
- Creates serratus activation
The oblique muscles are stabilized by the belt which activates the serratus muscles. The serratus muscles play a role in stabilizing the shoulders. This helps keep the shoulders pinned back in a stable position. This saves them from injury and allows the chest to do all the work.
- Reduces injury
When arching the back and pressing heavy weights, the lower back is strained. Wearing a belt is a great way to mitigate lower back pain.
Whether you have existing lower back pain, or just want to feel safer, a belt is a good idea.
How to Use a Belt For Benching?
There is no harm in attempting to bench with a belt on. It will only bring positives. If it really bothers you and you don’t like it, then you don’t have to wear one.
Unrack the barbell and then take a deep breath, bracing the belt tightly against your abs. Hold your breathe throughout the entire rep until the bar is back in the air. This ensures that you have maximum tightness and strength throughout the entire rep.
You will want to wear the belt higher up on your abs to properly help you brace when you breathe against it. It should also be tight to properly brace. You may have to play around with positioning and tightness until you find what feels most comfortable for you.
Purchase a belt on Amazon here.
Drawbacks of Wearing a Belt While Benching
If you have a thick belt, the width may get make it difficult for you to arch your back. This can make it difficult to create an arch and your bench may suffer.
Belts can be costly and time-consuming to deal with. If you aren’t an experienced lifter, you don’t need to worry about getting one. If you don’t use a belt for the squat and deadlift, you probably don’t need one for the bench press.
A belt may also be too uncomfortable for some people. It can irritate your skin and mess with your breathing.
Other Considerations While Benching
As far as equipment goes, wrist wraps and appropriate footwear are also important for improving on bench press.
Wrist wraps increase joint stability, prevent wrist injury, and help grip the bar tighter. Benching utilizes a heavy barbell, which is held by the wrists. The wrists take a lot of strain pressing the bar up and down.
Wrist wraps are a good way to prevent injury and fatigue. If your wrists give out before your chest, then you are missing out on chest gains.
If your wrists tilts backward or side to side while benching, you risk stressing the joint. Wrist wraps will prevent your wrists from moving. Here’s a great pair.
Flat soled shoes or power lifting shoes with a heel are the best for benching. That is because they allow you a flat surface to press off of when using leg drives. Your heels should always remain planted on the ground while benching to generate extra force.
The more volume of benching you do, the stronger you will get. If you are benching once or twice a week, you can expect to get stronger.
Ensure that you are progressively overloading each workout by increasing reps, sets, or weight. This can also be done by increasing intensity or decreasing rest times. You will always progress and won’t hit plateaus in your training.
Sometimes taking a break from the gym is the best way to get stronger. If you’ve been overtraining, taking a few days off may be what you need.
Wondering how important benching is for building a big chest? See here.
Recovering properly is a great way to increase your bench performance. Nutrition is the first step towards recovery. Protein is required so that your body can repair muscle fibers.
Carbs will provide you with energy to get through difficult bench press sessions.
Make sure to stretch before your workout. Reducing tightness and increasing blood flow into the muscles will prevent injury. Perform a few lightweight sets of which ever exercise you are doing to prepare the muscles for heavier sets.
Ensure you are getting at least 7 hours a sleep a night for your muscles to recover properly. Protein synthesis and growth hormone release happen while asleep. This allows your muscles to rebuild and grow back stronger.
Consider taking BCAA’s to help increase muscle recovery. Branched chained amino acids will deliver amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins into the body.
The amino acid leucine has proven to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. BCAA’s also decrease protein breakdown during exercise and decrease levels of creatine kinase, which is an indicator of muscle damage.
Leave any questions or comments below and I’ll get back to you!