When we work with athletes we don't use weight lifting belts, nor straps. Like everything, there's a time and place for both, although, we have reasoning for not employing these for our athletes. If you use belts and straps-hear our reasoning out and try avoiding them for a few lifts.
Belts are often used by elite olympic lifters, powerlifters and bodybuilders. There focus is to help maintain compression through the abdominal area (stomach) and to help prevent injury when working with heavy loads (usually 85+% maximal weight) by taking some of the force off of the body. We choose not to use them for our athletes and here's why...
- Foundational strength - most of our athletes are building their base of strength, using a belt could hinder their natural growth.
- True numbers - a belt might enable an athlete add more weight than their body is ready for, this will then lead to misinterpreted 1, 3, 5, + rep loads.
- Back/core growth/strength - the back/core need to have a base of strength before anyone should be worried about finding their maximal weight. By not using belts your back and core will learn to support weight on their own (and grow faster).
- Non-transferable - in most athletics it's not realistic that there will be a compressional force on the abdomen when performing, using a belt in the weight room could take away from lifting/performance carry over.
- Risk/Benefit - when pursuing true 1 rep maxes there is always a risk of injury, most athletes don't need to find TRUE 1 rep maxes. Their max without a belt should be the max used to assess other reps.
Belts have their time and place, for most athletes they're unneeded-it's a safer/better bet to build strength without them, especially in younger athletes. In regards to straps there is a littleuse for them in our gym, but we have a strong case as to why we don't employ them in 99% of cases.
- Grip strength - grip is a limiting factor, meaning you can only handle a weight your grip can handle. Always strapping up to make a lift will hinder grip strength and improvement, which a hockey player needs.
- Forearm/hand growth - constantly strapping up will take away from natural growth of the forearm/hand musculature. When you're constantly holding a stick and having others test your strength on the puck you need a strong grip.
- True numbers - not using straps will help keep you true to what needs work, this usually being grip!
When building a solid base of strength you'll benefit more by avoiding the constant use of belts and straps. The back and core need to be strong, especially in hockey-you'll have better gains by not relying on a belt. Vice versa a hockey player needs a good grip, straps can hinder the growth and strength of a grip.