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Old 09-10-2007, 10:00 AM   #1
Jahmaal Sawyer
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Using belts for the Olympic Lifts?

I've always been told through my entire lifting career that if you're doing any type of olympic lift, that you should be using a belt. However, since starting CF, I've noticed that pretty much everyone I've seen on any of the workout demos or videos doesn't wear one. I'm just wondering whether or not that is something that is involved with the methodology of CF or is it something that will become easier as I get into better shape? I use a belt to this day, but mostly because I've had some lower back issues both from lifting and from the years of competitive cheerleading and gymnastics. Any suggestions?
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Old 09-10-2007, 11:27 AM   #2
Lincoln Brigham
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Re: Using belts for the Olympic Lifts?

Hardly anyone in Olympic lifting uses a belt for the snatch and less than half (at the elite level) use them for the clean.

Sounds like you've been getting advice on Olympic lifting from people who have never been involved in Olympic lifting.
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Old 09-10-2007, 04:22 PM   #3
Ben Moskowitz
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Re: Using belts for the Olympic Lifts?

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Originally Posted by Lincoln Brigham View Post
Hardly anyone in Olympic lifting uses a belt for the snatch and less than half (at the elite level) use them for the clean.
why do people use or not use them? back strength?
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Old 09-10-2007, 04:25 PM   #4
Zach Wright
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Re: Using belts for the Olympic Lifts?

From my understanding, people use belts to support their back. The way I see it (and correct me if I'm wrong) is that it kind of defeats the purpose of doing the lift. If you need a belt to lift a certain weight, you can't really lift that weight. I'm not an incredibly experienced guy so I may be wrong, but just from what I've seen thats the way it seems to me.
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Old 09-10-2007, 04:56 PM   #5
Lincoln Brigham
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Re: Using belts for the Olympic Lifts?

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Originally Posted by Ben Moskowitz View Post
why do people use or not use them? back strength?
It does provide some support for maximal lifts. However, most people are not using the kinds of loads that elite athletes are using. In the snatch the loads are lower and the belt has a tendancy to get in the way of the bar. For me, I keep the bar in close enough that I'd never get the bar past the belt.
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Old 09-10-2007, 06:44 PM   #6
Elliot Royce
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Re: Using belts for the Olympic Lifts?

Lincoln has a lot more experience than I but a good 2nd pull is going to be so close to your stomach that it can lift your t-shirt. You also want to maximize the arch which I think a belt would hinder.

At a recent meet with around 100 lifters, nary one had a belt on. Must be confusing with power lifters. Can you say, "snatch shirt"?
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Old 09-11-2007, 09:21 PM   #7
Ian Carver
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Re: Using belts for the Olympic Lifts?

Belts act as a support system for the lower back by increasing the abdominal/thoracic pressure in the midsection during heavy exertion. The outward force of muscle and air inthe diaphragm and thorax forces itself out against the belt, thereby creating stability in the lower back and midsection. The use and principle of using the belt defeats the core strengthening value of CF by allowing a removable object to become your stability and support system. All of your support should come from yourself alone which is maintained and increased through many of the exercises in CF. Through exercise, you can hammer out and creat a core as strong as a belt and it goes with you everywhere. Over reliance on the belt can also lead to injuries when it is not used and high loads are attempted under the false pretense that the mid-section is just as strong without it.

Both Lincoln and Elliot have some great Oly lifting experience and you can bet safely on the fact that if they say there is no need for a belt, then there really is no need for a belt. As mentioned, the belt can get in the way of the second pull and it creates a lack of forward and rearward flexibility by basically putting a "block" around the mid-section.

All that being said, I have used my belt as I rehabbed slowly from a nasty low back tweak, but once I was feeling good again, I went right back to working without it and relying on my own stability system. My advice, as well as everyone elses, is to shy away from the belt and work at developing the core muscles to support your lifitng efforts. Good luck!
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Old 09-11-2007, 10:52 PM   #8
Aimee Anaya
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Re: Using belts for the Olympic Lifts?

Sorry, but I am going to have to disagree with Lincoln. Nearly all of the top lifters in the country, both men and women, use belts when they are lifting at their top weights. Most of the top 8 girls wear the belt in both the snatch, and the clean & jerk. If your technique is strong and you transition into your power position correctly, the bar will not hit your belt. Never once has my bar ever hit my belt in my snatch or my clean & jerk. and I am sure I can say the same for the other elite lifters.

Just to take a look at some of our top lifters and belt usage....
Casey Burgener uses the belt in the clean & jerk...
Henry Brower also uses the belt...
Innocent Ukpong uses the belt...
Donnie Shankle uses the belt in both
Chad Vaughn sometimes uses the belt.
Cody Gibbs uses the belt in his lifts
Doreen Fulhart uses the belt in both the snatch & the clean & jerk
I use the belt in both...
Natalie Woolfolk uses the belt in both lifts...
and so does Melanie Roach...
Cheryl Hayworth uses the belt in the clean & jerk
Cara Heads uses the belt in both lifts...

So. The above list covers most of the lifters on our world team this year, with the exception of carissa gordon-gump and kendrick ferris... but we all know how crazy strong those 2 are.

Anyway, this just shows that probably 95% of our elite lifters use the belt in competition, if not in most of their heavy training. It is a fantastic support tool, and I would NEVER discourage using it with the olympic lifts when you get to heavy weights.
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Old 09-11-2007, 10:56 PM   #9
Aimee Anaya
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Re: Using belts for the Olympic Lifts?

just a few more pictures to demonstrate belt usage of our elite athletes
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Old 09-12-2007, 11:26 AM   #10
Lincoln Brigham
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Re: Using belts for the Olympic Lifts?

I don't want to get off track with numbers, but looking at a group of pictures from the 2002 and 2003 World Championships I counted 92 snatches without belts, 16 with. 24 cleans without belts, 58 with.

Again, these are lifters at elite levels which does not describe the average Crossfitter. Most of them are snatching more than the average Crossfitter can deadlift. I agree that I don't think that when people get to elite level weights that they should be discouraged from using belts. Nor do I want anyone suing me because I told them not to use a belt, because that's not what I'm saying.
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