A weight belt can be an essential piece of gear to keep in your gym bag. But mounting research suggests that belts should be worn only during the heaviest lifts to help stabilize the core—as our friend in the above photo demonstrates.
If you insist on wearing a belt regularly, you’ll actually weaken your abs, obliques, and lower back over time.
That’s not to say a belt doesn’t have uses aside from max lifting. Here are three unique ways to get more action out of your belt the next time you hit the gym.
None of these moves require that the belt be latched to the tightest possible notch, so avoid doing so.
The more your abs can breathe, the more they’ll be able to work on their own.
Hang a length of chain or a strap around your belt and loop it through one or more weight plates. Stand on two boxes or benches and squat low.
Transform your belt into a makeshift sled harness with a set of chains or straps looped through the belt. Attach the opposite end of the chains to a sled or tire and get dragging.
Run elastic bands through the belt and attach the opposite ends to a secure anchor point. Sprint and resist the recoil as long as you can. Repeat for reps or time.