CrossFit and Weightlifting Belts: CJ Del Balso

There has been some debate on whether or not CrossFit participants should use weightlifting belts.  We asked Weightlifting coach CJ Del Balso for his thoughts on weightlifting belts.  CJ coaches youth lifters and also offers weightlifting workshops for Masters Athletes at CrossFit EST and CrossFit Iron Horse in the Dallas Fort Worth area.  

CJ Del Balso: It is always better to go without one  [lifting belt] provided your lumbar spine is healthy and your lifting technique is sound; however, there is a place for them in certain circumstances.

WODMasters: What kind of circumstances?

CJ Del Balso:  If an individual has a preexisting low back injury, I don’t have a problem with using a belt in things like heavy squats, dead lifts and the Olympic lifts. This is especially true with masters level lifters where it’s just not worth the risk of incurring another injury.

CJ Del Balso with his lifting team

WODMasters:  Would it be good for Masters to wear lifting belts all the time?  A lot of us already have back issues.

CJ Del Balso:  Even on the movements I mentioned,I do believe it is good to go without a belt as much as possible to strengthen the core without supportive gear. For example, a belt may not be needed on back squats until a certain weight is reached. Because I work primarily with youth lifters, this is not an issue I deal with much. I do not let any of my lifters wear belts other than when we do 1RM back squats but they are also learning proper technique from the very beginning so the risk of injury is minimized.

WODMasters:  Thanks so much.

CJ Del Balso:  I hope that helps and feel free to contact me with any other questions you may have. Take care!

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