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Weightlifting belts are not shown to weaken core muscles

Rodney Corn·2 min read·Science

Science suggests using a weightlifting belt properly won't weaken core muscles.

Weightlifting belts are not shown to weaken core muscles.

The use of weightlifting belts is a common practice in strength training. They help increase intra-abdominal pressure resulting in greater stability of the trunk and spine. However, it has been suggested that they may decondition or weaken the core muscles. By relying on external assistance for stability, muscle activation may be decreased and result in a detraining effect. If true, this could potentially lead to an increase in the risk of injury in the long run. So the question is, do weightlifting belts in fact weaken core muscles?

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Extensive reviews of research have been conducted on the effects of using weightlifting belts over long periods of time. They have shown no conclusive evidence or negative effects on muscle function in both individuals who are healthy and with low back pain. It should be noted that both of the cited studies made mention of the low to poor quality of research/evidence reviewed.

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While the evidence may not be as high quality as desired, it’s important to point out that these reviews looked at prolonged use of weightlifting belts – weeks to months in most cases, for long periods of time per use.

As it is suggested that weightlifting belts being used for strength training purposes only be used during a lift (seconds at a time) of 80% of 1RM or higher, the long-term effect on the muscle is likely the same.


Azadinia, F., Ebrahimi, E., Kamyab, M., Parnianpour, M., Cholewicki, J., & Maroufi, N. (2017). Can lumbosacral orthoses cause trunk muscle weakness? A systematic review of literature. The Spine Journal, 17(4), 589–602. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2016.12.005

Takasaki, H., & Miki, T. (2017). The impact of continuous use of lumbosacral orthoses on trunk motor performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis.?The Spine Journal, 17(6), 889–900. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2017.03.003

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