I've read that doing weighted pull-up and dips with weight using straps can lead to hernia and lower back problems.

(specifically damaging intervertebral disc and pressuring femoral artery(with straps))

How true is this? (I'm 172cm, 85kg) using ~12kg backpack for pull-ups and dips, was going to use ~20-24kg weight with straps on belt


3 Answers 3


Progressive weights and good forms are usually deterrent against injuries. when it comes to weightlifting.

The exercise itself will not result in any injury; however, you'll injure yourself if you use a weight your body isn't prepared to carry. This is because the weight will be automatically shifted to the lowest part of your back, where more pressure will be applied.

Also, using a wide belt like this

properly distributes the weight and reduces the pressure on your spine.

So, use a good belt, start with low weights and progressively increase it, and use proper form and you should be safe.

  • so going from 12kg to 24 is too much?
    – Herokiller
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 19:06
  • That's an 100% increment (excluding your own weight). I don't increase weights that fast; your mile may vary. Just listen to your body and adjust. Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 19:18

Short answer

Don't worry about it.

Longer answer

Weight belts are NOT going to give you any problems unless you pack on an obscene amount of weights. And this is a catch-22 anyway, because the weight you'd need to strap to yourself is way more than you'd ever be able to do pullups or dips with.

You should always opt for a belt which can be tightened pretty snugly around your waist. And the more surface area the belt covers, the better, because it spreads the pressure out.

Backpacks, I have less experience with in terms of dips and pullups. But in the army, we ran 30k (~18.6 miles) with pretty substantial backpacks, in addition to helmets, rifles and vests. We also did a lot of obstacle courses with the same stuff imposed on us. I have a hard time seeing that we'd be doing this if it were known to cause back problems.

This is of course barring any problems you have already which might be worsened through physical exercise.

About herniae

I have an umbilical hernia (which I've not yet opted to treat because it's not causing any problems), and I've had a couple visits to the doctor just to get some info on it.

First off, there are a large set of different ways a hernia can arise. Physical exercise doesn't usually cause it, but it can make existing herniae more protruding and more noticable.

Personally, I notice mine when doing abdominal work, but this is because mine is located at the belly button, and I suppose is subjected to some pressure when my abs are flexing.

  • I'm not sure whether you understood it correctly, the weight is not the belt itself, but some kettlebell hanging on straps
    – Herokiller
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 7:44
  • @Herokiller - Yes, I figured that this was implied. Of course the weight of the belt itself is trivial.
    – Alec
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 13:47

The other answers already stressed the importance of a wide belt and good form. But, what is "good form"?

An important factor in both pull-ups and dips, especially if you are concerned about back aches training with a weighted belt (and regardless), is activating your anterior chain.

This means that you should activate your abs and keep your legs in a position anterior of the axis of your upper body. This can and should be supplemented by a slight pulling-in of your belly-button, which will further engage the M. transversus abdominis and co-activate your pelvic floor.

Since the trnasversus acts like a muscular cuff around your lower abdomen, this helps to protect your lower back. Actively activating the rest of the abdominal muscles by slightly lifting your knees to the front additionally helps to keep you from overexerting your back muscles under the pressure of the belt as well as keeping a more neutral spine.

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