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 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 muscle can contract, which in turn increases your ‘intra-abdominal pressure’. This creates a more 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 powerlifting belts, the best weightlifting belts, and the best nylon weightlifting belts (the purposes of which will be explained a little later).
The Best Powerlifting Belts
It doesn’t take more than a glance at the plethora of powerlifting belts on the market to become a little overwhelmed. What material should it be made of? Should it be tapered? Which locking mechanism works the best? Velcro or leather?
Before we get into what makes up the ideal powerlifting belt, we need to understand how they differ from weightlifting belts. Powerlifting belts will always feature a more stability-focused design. This means no tapering and a more solid construction.
That said, the following theories as to how your belt should be built are universal across all variations of the sport.
When it comes to safety, durability and overall viability as a powerlifting belt, nothing beats leather in terms of build material. There are velcro belts available on the market, but anyone who uses them would likely only do so underneath a leather belt for back warmth.
Unlike pronged belts, which imitate a more traditional belt design, lever belts are another option that provide a quicker way of getting your belt on and off. It’s worth noting, though, that they aren’t as reliable. Manufacturers obviously know this, which is why they usually provide a lengthy warranty and replacement parts.
Pronged belts ultimately come out on top for their long-term reliability and favorable design.
When it comes to thickness, most macho weightlifters will claim that anything under 13mm is child’s play. At the end of the day, most manufacturers stick to 10mm as it provides a fair balance between support and comfort. If a belt is too thick, you’ll experience pain where it digs into your abdomen – too thin and it may not do its job as effectively.
We’ll look more into width and thickness later in the article. For now, here are the five best powerlifting belts you can buy.
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.
A zinc-plated steel roller buckle is the locking mechanism of choice here. It’s both durable and tight. The belt is made in the USA and is suitable for squats, deadlifts, presses and any other powerlifting exercises. 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.
If you’re looking for the pinnacle of design and a lifetime investment, it doesn’t get any better than this. The Ohio Lifting Belt is adorned in a vegetable tanned leather that takes weeks to process. It looks like a Ferrari seat and feels softer than any other lifting belt.
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. A convenient, single-prong design and a 10mm thickness further puts this US-made belt as second to none (well, except for the Inzer of course).
Those who’ve experienced the Ohio Lifting Belt consistently praise how quickly it breaks in and its overall durability.
This is a truly beautiful, high-quality powerlifting belt.
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-tan 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.
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.
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.
The Best Weightlifting Belts
A huge rule when it comes to powerlifting belts is that they shouldn’t be tapered around the front. This is because the belt needs to provide support around the entire abdomen and give your core something to push against – something a taper completely negates.
However, in the case of weightlifting belts, specifically designed for Olympic lifting where flexibility is more important, a taper is essential for the belt to serve its purpose and not get in the way of dynamic lifts. Taper aside, there’s virtually nothing 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’s Olympic brother and features all of the same components that make the Ohio so great. This includes the unrivaled vegetable-tan leather lining that provides the best level of comfort and strength.
The Oly features the same 10mm thickness and 4” width around the back, but tapers to half the width towards the front for increased flexibility. The shaved off material means the overall bulk of the belt is reduced. This US-made belt also features a unique buckle guard to prevent clothing from catching on.
Reinforced stitching and a single-prong design can be found on the vegetable-tan leather, which takes weeks to process in Ohio where the belt is made.
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.
This Pioneer is a more affordable 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 and comes with Amazon’s buyer protection guarantee, ensuring that you get what you pay for or your money back.
Don’t let the one crappy review on Amazon fool you: Pioneer (Genuine Leathercraft) lifting belts are renowned for their quality.
RDX’s powerlifting 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.
Each of these lifting belts have their own unique set of quirks or features that help them stand out from the crowd. But there’s one thing that all of them have in common: they’re made of leather. As we mentioned earlier on, leather isn’t the only option for lifting belts.
The alternative is nylon. Its unique properties make nylon appropriate for certain types of lifting and unsuitable for others, as we’ll discuss below.
The Best Nylon Weightlifting Belts
Nylon is a lot more flexible than leather, but significantly thinner, lighter and less sturdy. Due to the different properties of this material, nylon belts also feature unique buckles. Unlike the traditional metal prongs you find on leather belts, nylon belts feature the same metal buckle, but with a nylon strap to fasten onto.
This actually gives nylon belts some advantages over their leather counterparts – namely increased tightness and a more customizable fit. These properties all come together to make nylon belts much more flexible than leather ones – albeit at the cost of sturdiness and support.
The lack of intra-abdominal pressure makes them unsuitable for heavy lifting. However, nylon belts are suitable for a variety of other sports alongside lighter lifting, such as CrossFit. They still offer the same benefits, which include lower back and abdominal support.
Here are the best nylon belts you can buy.
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 admirable 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” high and tapers down by an inch around the back.
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.
If you’re looking for a more entry level-focused nylon belt, Fringe Sport has you covered. It’s durable, lightweight and suitable for every day training. The memory foam core keeps muscles warmed up during breaks and the adjustable velcro strap makes putting it on and removing the belt 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 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 prevent injuries and keep your body safe and stable, a nylon bet should be the next thing you drop in your gym bag before you head out.
Using a Weightlifting / Powerlifting Belt
Having the best belt on the market means nothing if you don’t know how to use it. To get a better idea of how a weightlifting belt works, let’s take a look at those impressive abs of yours.
Your abs are tightest when you’re contracting them inwards or squeezing your stomach in. Weightlifting and Powerlifting belts work by increasing intra-abdominal pressure. Fully contracting your abs creates the most intra-abdominal pressure and is therefore how your torso should be positioned when strapping on a belt.
As for tightness, you should be able to fully contract your abs with the belt on and not have it so tight that the belt is essentially doing all the work. On the flipside, too loose and the belt serves no purpose at all. In conclusion, the belt should be as tight as possible without limiting your ability to move. This way you’re receiving the maximum amount of intra-abdominal pressure while still being able to fully contract your abs.
Putting on Powerlifting and Weightlifting Belts
Strapping a weightlifting belt around your torso for the first few times may be a bit of an awkward ordeal. The best way to do it is to have a partner help you out. If you happen to be alone, pinning the belt to a stand or rack and then twisting your body will get the belt as tight as possible. Don’t forget to contract your abs for maximum pressure.
There are different ways to strap on a weightlifting belt depending on the exercise you plan on doing.
For example, with squats, you don’t want to make the belt as tight as possible to begin with. Most athletes prefer to perform a squat first and tighten the belt when their knees are still bent. While in the squat position (as deep as you personally go), tighten the belt to the most natural and comfortable position.
When it comes to deadlifts, many athletes have found that the standard position isn’t ideal and putting the belt higher up, loosening it or turning it around helps make for a more comfortable experience.
Well, there you have it: The Best Powerlifting and Weightlifting belts, including a couple of great nylon weightlifting belts.
Like most fitness accessories, how you 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 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)