Whether you’re looking to break your personal lifting records or just ensure that your strength training isn’t hampered by needless injuries, the right tools for the job are paramount.
If you train the Olympic lifts then a Weightlifting belt must be part of your toolkit. Similarly, if you’re a Powerlifter or you regularly incorporate the main lifts into your training routine, a good quality Powerlifting belt is simply necessary.
This is especially true if you train in a home or garage gym, where there’s no one but yourself to ensure you’re lifting safely and effectively.
Weightlifting and Powerlifting belts provide a block against which your core muscles can contract, which in turn increases your ‘intra-abdominal pressure’. This creates a more stiff / rigid core and stabilizes your spine, thus allowing it to support heavier loads (meaning you can lift heavier weights) and reducing the likelihood of injury.
However, lifting belts come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials and knowing which is best for you?
Well, we’re here to help you make the best possible decision.
In this article, we’ll examine and recommend the best weight lifting belts on the market. We’ll break these down into the best belts for Powerlifters, the best belts for Olympic weightlifters, and the best nylon lifting belts (the purposes of which will be explained a little later in the article).
Best Weight Lifting Belts At a Glance
Best Powerlifting Belt
Inzer are arguably the most well-known and rated lifting belt manufacturers. Their forever belt oozes quality and is purpose made for heavy powerlifting. Premium leather construction with either lever or buckle locking mechanisms make this an ideal choice for any serious Powerlifter. There are 10mm or 13mm variants.
Best Olympic Weightlifting Belt
Rogue bring their unrivalled, US-made quality to this Olympic Weightlifting belt. Made from 10mm tanned leather, it has a 4″ width at the back for spinal protection, but then tapers to 2″ at the front to allow unimpeded movement during your explosive Oly lifts. It’s strong, comfortable and attractive.
Best Nylon Weight Lifting Belt
If you’re not lifting super heavy but still need lower back support, try a nylon lifting belt. Rogue’s USA nylon belt is the pick of the bunch here and offers a premium black belt with a quality velcro fastener. It’s extremely soft and comfortable, but still strong enough to increase your intra-abdominal pressure and keep your spine nicely supported.
The Best Powerlifting Belts
|Inzer Forever Belt||
|Rogue 13mm Powerlifting Belt||
|Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt||
|Rep Fitness Premium Leather Lifting Belt||
|Dark Iron Pro Lifting Belt||
|Rogue Echo Lifting Belt||
|Inzer Forever Belt|
|Rogue 13mm Powerlifting Belt|
|Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt|
|Rep Fitness Premium Leather Lifting Belt|
|Dark Iron Pro Lifting Belt|
|Rogue Echo Lifting Belt|
Coined by Inzer as “the last support belt you’ll ever buy”, the Forever Belt features a genuine leather construction covered in a non-slip suede coating. Four layers of corrosion-resistant, high-density nylon are stitched between the leather to provide the belt’s 10mm thickness.
Izer’s Forever Belt actually has a number of variants. You can either get a lever belt or single prong buckle, and they come in either 10mm or 13mm. All are both durable and light, and which you go with will largely come down to preference. These belts are made in the USA and are suitable for squats, deadlifts, presses and any other Powerlifting exercises. As you’d expect, all Inzer belts are IPF approved, meaning you can use them in competition. Inzer’s Forever Belt has received high ratings across the board, with customers often commenting on the belt’s remarkable build quality.
Inzer aren’t lying: Get a Forever Belt, and it’ll last longer than you.
- Made in USA
- Exceptional quality construction – from the leather to the stitching and locking mechanisms
- A number of variants to suit all preferences
- Versatile in use – great for all main Powerlifts
- IPF approved
- Comes in a range of colors
The Not So Good
- One of the more expensive weightlifting belts
- Can be stiff initially – will take at least a few weeks to break in
If you’re looking for the pinnacle of design and a lifetime investment in another IPF approved Powerlifting belt, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Rogue Fitness’ 13mm Powerlifting Belt is a fairly recent addition to their lineup. It’s adorned in a black vegetable tanned leather that takes weeks to process, and has a soft suede lining. This makes it beautiful like a Ferrari seat, strong as an old boot, and feel softer than any other 13mm lifting belt you’ll find.
But this doesn’t mean there’s been any compromise on strength. It’s not only stronger than cheaper leather, but also water resistant and takes much less time to break in than comparable Powerlifting belts (like the Inzer above). In fact, it should feel relatively comfortable straight out of the box, which is not something many other good quality leather lifting belts can boast.
It’s has the standard 4″ width from front to back, and uses a convenient, single-prong design that’s quick and easy to use; no hassle or fiddling around when you need to fit, loosen or tighten. Plus, the 13mm thickness ensures this belt will provide unwavering support and durability no matter how heavy you lift or what kind of abuse you dish out.
Rogue’s 13mm Powerlifting Belt is made in the USA, and is a truly beautiful, high-quality powerlifting belt.
As a side note, if you like the look of this belt but prefer a lever-locking belt, Rogue also make this levered variant
- Top quality construction, made in the US
- Black vegetable tanned leather gives it a fearsome look
- Less break-in time than most comparable 13mm leather belts
- IPF approved
The Not So Good
- Expensive like much of Rogue’s products
Rogue has an extensive range of lifting belts, and we’re recommending another of them for this pick on the list. The Ohio Lifting Belt has been a fan-favorite amongst competitive and recreational Powerlifters for years. It was previously our number 2 pick, and was only bumped down the lift after the release and awesomeness of the 13mm Powerlifting belt above.
That said, it’s arguably more similar to the 13mm belt than it is different. It’s made from vegetable tanned leather, which makes it nice and supple out of the box and vastly reduces the break in time. It has 4” width right the way around and fastens via the same single prong buckle design. Double stitching holds all together.
Where they differ is in the color and thickness. The Ohio Lifting Belt has a deep natural brown tone, which gives it a nice, modern look and is 10mm thick. The thinner belt makes it lighter, and feel slightly less rigid than the 13mm Powerlifting belt, which will be ideal if you’re concerned about comfort. In theory, it may also make it more susceptible to stretching, and subsequently loosening up over time. In practice, however, this simply doesn’t happen.
Those who’ve used the Ohio Lifting Belt (including us) consistently praise it’s durability and sustained tightness, as well as how quickly it breaks in.
True to Rogue’s form, this is another exceptional Powerlifting belt. If you really want to treat yourself you can get the Premium Ohio Lifting Belt, which is a variant that adds a few extra bells and whistles including English bridle leather construction, a non-slip lining, and a black buckle assembly.
- Top quality construction, made in the US
- Vegetable tanned leather gives it a nice, modern look
- Softer than most comparable 10mm leather belts – less break-in time
- Has a Premium variant for those who want their lifting belt to be the envy of their friends
The Not So Good
- Another expensive option
- No 13mm option
Unlike most other belts, the Rep Fitness Premium Leather Lifting Belt features a double-reinforced construction. This means it’s not only held together with glue, but also double stitching. The burnished edges ensure minimal odor and moisture damage.
Vegetable tanned leather is the material of choice, which means less break-in time as well as unrivaled durability and comfort. It’s 10mm thick, 4” wide and features 10 holes for the single prong design, providing a flexible sizing system that will adapt to your body as you progress.
The Rep 4” is the ideal width for maximum lock-in during heavy lifts and squats. It represents excellent value, so if you’re looking for a solid combination of affordability and build quality, this is a very good option.
- Much more affordable than the above options
- Still great quality, though not US-made
- Wide range of sizes
- Short break-in period
The Not So Good
- Not US-made
- No 13mm option
For more budget-conscious athletes or those looking to try something new, there’s the Dark Iron Fitness Pro Lifting Belt. This belt features a unique buffalo-hide leather construction that provides a solid balance between comfort and durability.
Double-stitching holds the belt together and ensures that the leather and nylon layers within don’t stretch over time. A heavy duty single-prong buckle keeps things tight as you make heavy lifts.
It’s only 5mm thick, which makes it lightweight, compact, and less rigid. The reduced thickness also means that it has slightly more give, and may provide somewhat less support than your standard 10mm belts.
Nevertheless, Dark Iron’s Pro Lifting Belt has kept an impressive 4.9/5 rating through over 3200 reviews on Amazon, making it one of the most popular and highest rated belts on the market.
Dark Iron offer a lifetime warranty on these belts, so they’ll replace it for free if it ever fails. At less than $50, that’s an absolute steal.
- Inexpensive – very budget friendly
- Less rigid upon first use: Less break-in time
- Quality construction considering the price
The Not So Good
- Not the same premium quality as the belts above
- Only 5mm thick, which makes it more susceptible to wear and tear
Rogue’s Echo Belt features everything you need in a solid lifting belt. A standard 10mm thickness and 4” width is the pairing of choice here. The single-prong buckle can be fitted into any of the 10 precision-cut holes found along the genuine leather lining of the Echo Lifting Belt.
The leather is extremely sturdy and while this does mean a slightly longer break-in period, you’re guaranteed less stretching and more stable lifts. Double stitching ensures that everything is held together tightly, making this a considerable long-term investment – even with its more affordable price point.
Which powerlifting belt will suit you best ultimately depends on your budget. If you’re looking to make buying a belt a one-time thing, go for quality and pick up something that will last. If you’re still unsure as to which belt suits you best, don’t be afraid to experiment and get a taste of what each company has to offer on the lower end as well.
This Rogue Echo Lifting Belt is a great place to start.
- Cheaper than other Rogue belts
- Still great quality – genuine leather, standard width and thickness
- Simple black design
The Not So Good
- Not vegetable tanned, and therefore it will be stiff out of the box (more break-in time needed)
- No variations in terms of thickness or width
The Best Weightlifting Belts
|Rogue Oly Ohio Lifting Belt||
|Pioneer 6.5mm Leather Training Belt||
|ProFitness Weight Lifting Belt||
|RDX Weightlifting Belt||
|Rogue Oly Ohio Lifting Belt|
|Pioneer 6.5mm Leather Training Belt|
|ProFitness Weight Lifting Belt|
|RDX Weightlifting Belt|
Serious Powerlifters will rarely wear a belt that’s tapered around the front. This is because the belt needs to provide support around the entire abdomen and give your abdominal muscles something to push against. A tapered belt doesn’t provide this particularly well.
However, this is exactly what Weightlifters look for. A taper is essential for the belt to provide enough mobility around the abdominal area to not get in the way of the dynamic Olympic lifts. Taper aside, there’s little else to distinguish a Weightlifting belt from a Powerlifting belt, so you already know what to look for.
As the name would suggest, this belt is the Ohio lifting belt’s Olympic brother and features all of the same components that make that Powerlifting-focused, cylindrical belt so great. This includes the unrivaled vegetable tanned leather lining that provides the best level of comfort and strength.
The Oly Ohio belt also features the same 10mm thickness and 4” width around the back, however it tapers to half that width (2″) in the front. This means that your lumbar spine still gets the support it needs, but there’s increased flexibility and range of movement for your core. The reduction in material also means the overall bulk of the belt is reduced. This US-made belt also includes a unique buckle guard to prevent clothing from catching on.
Reinforced stitching and a single prong buckle design can be found on the vegetable tanned leather, which gives the belt that same premium, modern look as the non-tapered Ohio lifting belt.
If you’re into the Oly lifts, or looking to get into them, and feel you’re in need of some additional support, you can’t go past the Rogue Oly Ohio.
- Premium quality construction
- Vegetable tanned leather makes for a soft feel and relatively short break-in period
- 10mm thickness is uncommon in tapered belts
The Not So Good
- Possibly the most expensive weightlifting belt on the market
Pioneer belts (crafted by General Leathercraft) are some of the best known and most well-regarded weight lifting belts in the industry. Pick up one of their products, and you’ll immediately understand why.
This 6.5mm thick, 4″ wide Pioneer training belt is a more affordable Oly lifting option that still maintains all the essential features necessary for a weightlifting belt. This includes a natural leather lining that’s treated and stitched, helping it last for years to come. The single-prong buckle is nickel plated for increased durability, along with all the rivets.
Being leather, the lining of these belts often become uncomfortable when put on as tightly as they need to be. This is why the Pioneer features beveled edges for a more comfortable fit. It’s made in the USA, as are all General Leathercraft products.
One of the best things about this belt is that it’s highly customizable. You can have it treated or untreated (treated belts are softer and darker in color; it’s a process similar to vegetable tanning), double prong or single prong, with laser burned messages on various parts of the belt (add your slogan, credo, or brand name), and / or with various colored buckles and stitching. Thus, while it costs a fair bit extra, you can truly make this belt uniquely yours.
- Exceptionally made in the USA
- Highly customizable
- Also comes in a 6″ wide variant
The Not So Good
- Another very expensive option
If you’re looking for something a bit lighter on the pocket, then this 7mm tapered weightlifting belt from ProFitness may be just what you’re after. It’s made from ‘top grain leather’ that is pre broken-in, and therefore nice and soft straight out of the box. This feature makes it suitable for beginner weight lifters, and will reduce the discomfort and potential bruising that occurs when the uninitiated don a weightlifting belt and properly start using it.
It comes with many standard features found on tapered belts across the market: Suede inner lining, double stitching, double-capped rivets, and a double pronged buckle. It has a 4″ back support that tapers to approximately 3″ in the front. There’s also 3 color variants to choose from including black and red, black and white, and camo pattern.
Be mindful, that while this belt should do the trick for beginners and lighter lifting, you get what you pay for. This isnt going to be anywhere near as good as the Rogue or Pioneer belts.
Firstly, while the leather is marketed as top grain, you’re likely to find it less sturdy than the American leather Rogue uses, or the sole leather used by General Leathercraft. Moreover, you may find that the belt holes start to wear over time and the rivets are likely to loosen up a bit too. Finally, because this belt is painted leather (as opposed to tanned leather), the oils and acids in your sweat may cause some of the paint to bleed into your clothing (or onto your skin).
Nevertheless, the ProFitness belt is 1/3 to 1/4 the price of the premium belts above, which is a good enough reason to get it. Just don’t expect too much from it.
- Very inexpensive
- 7mm is thicker and more sturdy than you typically see in cheaper weight lifting belts
- Pre broken-in, so it should feel relatively comfortable straight out of the box
- Comes in a range of colors
The Not So Good
- Cheaper price often equals cheaper quality construction
- Color may bleed when coming into contact with sweat over a prolonged period
Our next pick is another that may appeal to the more budget conscious lifter.
RDX make a range of lifting belts, and their tapered weightlifting offering puts an impressive list of unique features on the table. This includes a chrome-plated, double-prong buckle that provides increased durability and a more solid fit. The oil-fixed leather is soft and durable with a classic, darkened look thanks to the unique treatment.
Comfort seems to be the main focus of the RDX lifting belt. A padded lumbar area, contoured design and moisture-wicking coating are all standard. The leather treatment also ensures less odor as you inevitably sweat through your workout. Reinforced double stitching is found throughout the belt, ensuring that it doesn’t stretch over time.
Similarly to the ProFitness belt above, the cheaper RDX belts are often cheaper quality. The same problems that we mentioned above are likely to occur eventually with the RDX weightlifting belt. Specifically, the leather is definitely on the thinner side and is prone to tearing at the weaker points (i.e., at the holes, and where the tongue folds across the buckle).
- Another significantly cheaper option that will suit beginners and budget conscious lifters
- Very nice tanned look
- More comfortable than many competitors
The Not So Good
- Cheaper price again usually equals cheaper construction
- Leather is particularly susceptible to wear and tear
The Best Nylon Lifting Belts
|Rogue USA Nylon Lifting Belt||
|Schiek 2004 Lifting Belt||
|Fringe Sport Commercial Belt||
|Rogue USA Nylon Lifting Belt|
|Schiek 2004 Lifting Belt|
|Fringe Sport Commercial Belt|
Designed and manufactured in – you guessed it – the USA, Rogue’s Nylon Lifting Belt packs a ton of impressive features into its premium design. The unique black buckle is paired with an updated roller that makes on-the-fly adjustment a breeze compared to traditional buckles.
The custom patch velcro section is an cool addition that allows you to put on any patch of your choosing onto the belt. This can be a logo from your club or even Rogue’s very own selection of custom patches. The belt is 5” wide and tapers down to 4″ at the front.
A thick foam frame covers the antimicrobial interior, which is odor-resistant. A laminated ripstop exterior can be found above and features a 3” webbing support strap. Seven different length options ensure that there’s one for every athlete. As with most Rogue products, this is hands-down the highest quality option on the market. Check out our detailed review of the USA nylon belt for more info
- Very high quality construction ensures it’ll last for much longer than other nylon belts
- Design and colorways are customizable
- Slightly tapered design makes it suitable for all lifting athletes
The Not So Good
- On the expensive side
Schiek’s weight lifting belts are known for their patented cone shape, which provides support to both the lumbar vertebrae at the back and your abdominal muscles at the front. The sides are tapered (contoured) and allow for greater mobility when training. Their 2004 model nylon lifting belt is a great example of the uniqueness and innovation inherent in Schiek’s belts.
Made in the US, the 2004 lifting belt is a comfortable and effective weight lifting accessory. It’s well suited for high volume, dynamic strength training making it arguably the best weight lifting belt for CrossFit.
Constructed primarily from soft nylon, it features a back portion that’s angled downward and augmented with a foam lumbar insert that conforms to your back and provides extra support and comfort. It fastens via a dual closure system that works by closing up the front portion first and then tightening it with the slide bar buckle. This mechanism is made possible by the Slide N’ Grip velcro closure system that can be closed and slid in one direction only. This allows you to easily find the right level of tightness for the training you’re doing, as well as loosen the belt up quickly if need be.
But, while this is a very sturdy and comfortable belt, it has the same major drawback that basically all nylon belts do: It’s not rigid enough to provide the level of spinal support needed for heavy Powerlifts, especially squats and deadlifts. It’s a common tradeoff made by nylon belts; comfort for stability.
Nevertheless, if you don’t mind spending the extra cash and you use it for the intended purpose, it’s a fantastic lifting belt.
- Patented cone shape provides support to both front and back portions of your core
- Superior quality construction makes for a very comfortable belt
- Unidirectional Slide N’ Grip velcro system is unique and effective
- Comes in a good range of colorways
The Not So Good
- One of the most expensive nylon belts on the market
- Not suitable for heavy Powerlifting
If you’re looking for a more entry level, low-cost nylon belt, Fringe Sport has you covered with their OneFit Wonder Commercial Weightlifting Belt. It’s durable, lightweight and suitable for every day training while also being a third of the price of the belts above. The memory foam core keeps muscles warmed up during breaks and the adjustable velcro strap makes putting it on and taking it off a quick and easy process.
The Commercial Belt comes in three sizes, with the width sitting at 4.5” for the small and medium options and then going down to 4” for the largest belt. A one year warranty gives you additional peace of mind and sets in stone the fact that the Commercial Belt is a solid option for budget-conscious athletes.
If heavy lifting isn’t on your mind and you’re looking for an accessory that will help keep your core nice and rigid, and prevent injuries, this nylon lifting belt should be in your strength training arsenal.
- Very inexpensive
- Good padding and support
- Cylindrical in shape makes it suitable for lighter Powerlifting
The Not So Good
- Not suitable for heavy lifting
- All black design is a little boring
Should You Get a Weight Lifting Belt?
If you plan on lifting long term and you want to maximize the activation and development of your core muscles as well as protect your spine from injury, then yes, you should get a weight lifting belt.
Lifting weights – even relatively light ones – requires activation of your core muscles to stabilize your body. In particular, your core muscles stabilize your spine. This is necessary because lifting weights places a degree of both compressive and shear forces on your spine (depending on the particular lifts you’re doing, and the loads involved). Naturally, this makes your spine more susceptible to injury. Anyone who’s had a spinal injury will attest to the fact that they’re bad. They’re very bad.
Lifting belts work by compressing the abdomen and providing a block against which your core muscles can contract. This, in turn, significantly increases your intra-abdominal pressure (IAP), which effectively tightens the area around your spine, increasing its stiffness and stability. Greater stiffness and stability around your spine allows it to better support your upper body in lifting and lowering weight. In short, increased IAP leads to a stronger spine that is less likely to be injured. And, stronger, uninjured spines are able to lift more weight; it’s a win win win.
You get to lift more weight, develop bigger and stronger core muscles (including those sexy abs), and you’re less likely to experience a debilitating injury.
While the scientific research is somewhat mixed, the weight of evidence does generally support the conclusions above. That is, various pieces of research have shown that lifting belts can and do reduce injury and improve lifting performance, as well increase activation of the core muscles (which almost certainly helps make them bigger and stronger).
Choosing the Right Weight Lifting Belt
The sheer number of weight lifting belts on the market can be overwhelming when choosing the best one for you. What shape should it be? What size should you get? Should it be tapered? Which locking mechanism works the best? Nylon or leather?
Let’s go through some of the core elements that distinguish different lifting belts in order to help you narrow down the best lifting belt for you.
Different Shapes for Different Purposes
Broadly speaking, different shaped belts are best suited for different purposes (i.e., different lifting sports). Here are the 3 common shapes you’ll find and the lifting sport they’re most appropriate for:
These belts are the same width all the way round from front to back. This ensures consistent intra-abdominal pressure. As you may have gathered from the lists above, cylindrical weight lifting belts are typically best suited for Powerlifting. This is because the Powerlifts are slow and heavy, and easily subject the spine to the most compressive and shear forces. Therefore, consistent IAP is paramount.
These belts will typically have a 4″ – 6″ width at the back, which tapers to 1/2 to 3/4 of that width at the front. The narrower front allows more flexibility of the core, especially when doing a lot of bending at the waist, and when completing explosive movements. As such, tapered belts are favored by Olympic Weightlifters as they are less restrictive than cylindrical belts when completing cleans and snatches. The trade-off is that the intra-abdominal pressure created is less consistent, and therefore the spine gets less support.
Cone-shaped belts are a combination of the two above, and are intended to mimic the natural curvature of the human torso. They are full-width at the front and back, and taper / contour at the sides (at the waist or hips). This is intended to provide the consistent stability of the cylindrical belt, while also allowing greater flexibility and versatility of movement of the tapered belts. These kinds of belts are favored by CrossFit athletes who do high volumes of lifts, including explosive lifts. Therefore, they need as much support as possible (via IAP) and as little restriction as possible.
Two Types of Material
Simply put, most or all weight lifting belts are either leather or nylon:
Leather is an ideal material for lifting belts for two reasons. First, it’s strong and has very little play in it, especially when it’s thick (6mm+). Second, after a breaking in period it softens up considerably, which is ideal for a piece of equipment you have tightly hugging your waste while you exercise. But, not all leather belts are made equal. Some, like the Rogue Ohio and Pioneer lifting belts use thick, high-quality leather that goes through an intensive process to make it functional. This makes them expensive. Other cheaper belts are made from thin leather that often behaves more like cardboard.
Nylon belts are light, soft, deceptively strong, and easy to manufacture. Even the premium nylon belts are cheaper than most half decent leather belts. They tend to be ideal for CrossFit athletes, and are therefore commonly found in the cone shape. They’re also preferred by some Olympic Weightlifters and as such are also frequently tapered. However, nylon has more play in it than leather, and is more susceptible to loosening up, even within the same workout. I frequently have to re-tighten my Rogue USA Nylon Lifting Belt after a few lifts. For this reason, nylon belts most often use velcro fasteners (as opposed to levers or buckles). By its very nature, velcro wears out over time. Therefore, nylon belts don’t last forever, and certainly need replacing long before good leather belts do (if they ever need replacing).
Lock, lever, and two prongs or one?
There are effectively 4 different fastening mechanisms used on lifting belts: Levers, single prong buckles, double-prong buckles, and velcro fasteners.
These tend to be used on Powerlifting belts, and are often preferred by serious athletes.
Lever belts require assembly: You find the right holes for your preferred tightness, then attach the clasp and lever, usually via a couple of screws. The clasp attaches to specific holes at one end of the belt, and the lever mechanism tightens the belt accordingly.
The advantage of a lever belt is that you never have to fiddle with the fastener to find your spot. The lever mechanism also allows you to unclasp and loosen the belt between sets without having it fully come off. When you’re ready to go again, you just tighten it back up and away you go. That said, when you do want to take them off, lever belts can be a bit of a pain.
Single prong buckles
These are what you find on regular belts, and work in the exact same way. There’s little more to say than this. They’re uncomplicated, and make lifting belts easy to take on and off, as well as adjust when needed.
Double prong buckles
These employ two parallel prongs situated at the top and bottom of the belt. There are two lines of holes for the prongs to insert into, and the purpose of this design is to provide more even tightness when fastened. The drawback is that they can get fiddly when tightening and loosening them, as you need to coordinate both prongs simultaneously.
I’ve only ever seen these on nylon belts and they employ velcro’s patented loop and hook design. They’re extremely quick and easy to tighten and loosen, and they allow for a near infinite different levels of tightness. This is because there are obviously no pre-cut holes to determine where the belt can be tightened, but rather a length of velcro is looped through a buckle and then pulled as taught as you want. Velcro, however, by its very nature eventually wears out and stops being secure. At this point, your belt is rendered useless.Weight Lifting Belt Category Breakdown
While Powerlifting, Weightlifting and Nylon belts form the broad categories, there are also sub-categories within these designations that can help to narrow down the most suitable belt for you.
Weight Lifting Belts for Women
In many cases weight lifting belts for women are simply colored pink. It’s a societal thing, which we’re not condemning, simply exposing for what it is. Some less cynical manufacturers however, have designed belts specifically for a woman’s unique anatomy and requirements. This includes increased width and, in some cases, extra padding in the front and back.
Weight Lifting Belts for CrossFit
CrossFit has a lot of high volume lifting, integrated with high intensity cardio. As such, good CrossFit lifting belts should have a design that creates maximal support while also allowing as much movement through the core as possible. Cone and tapered shaped belts fit the bill best here. Moreover, nylon belts with velcro fasteners allow cross training athletes to quickly and easily tighten and loosen their belts depending on the demands of the exercises they’re performing.
Weight Lifting Belts for Squats and Deadlifts
At the other end of the spectrum, weight lifting belts that are best for squats and deadlifts should provide maximal support all the way around. This is because squats and deadlifts easily place the greatest demands on the spine, especially when you start lifting heavy. Therefore, thick, cylindrical leather belts are your best bet. The top two picks in our Powerlifting list (the Inzer 13mm and the Rogue 13mm) are exceptional options.
Using a Weight Lifting Belt
Having the best lifting belt on the market means nothing if you don’t know how to use it.
As mentioned above, Weightlifting and Powerlifting belts (and nylon belts) work by increasing intra-abdominal pressure. Therefore, when putting it on, the belt should be tight enough that ‘breathing into’ your stomach / abdomen creates noticeable pressure and increased stiffness.
Check out the video below for a more complete demonstration of how to use a weight lifting belt.
Frequently Asked Questions About Weight Lifting Belts
What’s the purpose of a weight lifting belt?
Lifting belts are intended to stabilize the spine by helping to create greater intra-abdominal pressure. They compress your abdomen, and provide a ‘block’ against which your core muscles can contract. This produces increased pressure and rigidity around your spine, especially the lumbar vertebrae, making it better able to handle the compressive and shear forces created by the weights being lifted.
A more stable spine can lift more weight, so lifting belts also improve your weightlifting or Powerlifting performance.
Finally, your core muscles are able to contract more strongly when contracting against a lifting belt, which facilitates increased size and strength development.
What type of weightlifting belt is best?
This depends entirely on what kind of lifting you do. Different kinds of belts are best suited for different lifting sports.
If you are into the Powerlifts (e.g., squats, deadlifts, bench presses) then a good-quality, cylindrical belt is your best bet. Leather is preferable here. Any of the belts on our best Powerlifting belts list will be suitable.
Olympic weightlifters, with their more explosive lifts like the snatch and power clean, will likely prefer a tapered belt. Having a belt that tapers at the front allows the core more flexibility, which is necessary for the fast-moving Olympic lifts. Again, leather is the best option here. Any of our Weightlifting belts recommendations will work just fine.
Finally, CrossFitters and general weight lifters will tend to want something that provides good support for a variety of different lifts (both Powerlifts and Olympic lifts), but that also maximizes comfort. As such, a good nylon belt is ideal here.
When should you wear a weightlifting belt?
Back injuries suck. Anyone who’s experienced a herniated disc will attest to how badly they suck. Weightlifting carries an inherent risk of injury to the spine. Lifting belts help to stabilize the spine and reduce that inherent risk.
Plus, when properly worn, a weight lifting belt helps you to lift more as well as develop a stronger and larger core. Who doesn’t want great abs?
For these reasons, you can wear a lifting belt whenever you are strength training. It’s completely fine, and even good practice, to put your belt on right from the get go; for your very first warm up set and keep it on until your very last working set.
What is the best deadlift belt?
Deadlifts can produce a tremendous amount of shear and compressive force through the back. It’s the Powerlift that results in the most back injuries. While these are usually caused by poor / incorrect technique, you still want a belt that provides maximum tightness and support. As such, either the 13mm Inzer Forever Belt variants or the Rogue 13mm Powerlifting Belt are our top recommendations.
Well, there you have it: The Best Weight Lifting Belts, including the top Powerlifting belts, Olympic Weightlifting belts, and nylon lifting belts
Like most fitness accessories, how you use a lifting belt is used (if you use one at all) will vary from person to person. Unlike most other fitness accessories however, a weightlifting belt is ideal for all lifters and has undeniable health and performance benefits.
Allocate yourself a budget, find a belt that suits your needs and strap up. And, as with any piece of fitness equipment, always be sure to do your homework and work on your technique above all else. Know your limits and ensure that you’re fully able to make that PR before your ride home from the gym ends up requiring a detour to the hospital.
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As always, best of luck with your home workouts. Remember: When it comes to our health and fitness, we can make the effort or make excuses, but we can’t make both.
THFF (The Home Fit Freak)