How to Choose the Best Weightlifting Belt – And are they suitable for Powerlifting?

Weightlifting is one of the go-to exercises for those who are looking to bulk up in the gym. However, lifting comes with various risks and may make you susceptible to injury if you’re not careful. Lifters should take extra precautions so that they won’t injure themselves.

In this article, we will be listing down a few products to help you find the best weightlifting belt. We will also weigh in some things for you to consider before getting one.

You'll find two chief sorts of belts: powerlifting belts and weightlifting belts.

We will be discussing two types of belts in this article: powerlifting belts and weightlifting belts.

Powerlifting belts are for men and women who often lift heavy in squats and deadlifts, aka powerlifting movements. Weightlifting belts are for men and women who do Olympic lifting (snatches and clean and jerks), typically found in CrossFit and bodybuilding.

Going with a belt that matches your type of training is important. So how does one tell the difference?

The most obvious feature that distinguishes the two types of belts is their width. A powerlifting belt is roughly four inches wide and is constant all around, even though a weightlifting belt typically offers a four inch-width for the back support part, but radically siphoned off at front.

Some weightlifting belts may also have additional padding in the rear, but as I have pointed out, the padding won't do much for rear protection.

In the weight room, the two main points to consider are safety and how heavy you’re planning lift. Those different widths are deliberate design choices. For powerlifting, you would want a larger surface area in the front for your core to push out against.

 For Olympic lifting, leather and suede options also work, but you might go to get a velcro-style belt, which some choose for its high mobility.

When you do this, you create intra-abdominal pressure to secure your spine under such heavy loads.

On the flip side, if your belt is too wide in front for the movements involved in lifts like squats, clean and press and deadlifts, it may impede you.

If you want to experiment in both powerlifting and weightlifting, I would suggest you go for a thicker, real leather, weightlifting belt. By going for the strongest type of weightlifting belt, you are able to do any type of lift with a decent amount of support for your core and spine.

powerlifting with belt


A Thicker Belt Is Not Necessarily A Better Belt

All of the belts in this review comes in 10 or 13-millimeter thickness. Belt thickness supplies that stiffness to maintain your spine from bending like a wet noodle.

The thicker the belt, the stiffer and more durable it will be, and the more likely it is going to stay put when you lift.

For first-time belt-buyers, I find it hard to give a recommendation as13 millimeters offers sturdier support, but it can be uncomfortable and overkill for the vast majority of lifters. Best you experiment with both thicknesses for yourself.

Thicker belts are a must for people who plan on breaking powerlifting records. Many lifters, however, even the very strong ones, typically lift using a 10.

If you are not convinced, try a 13-mm belt on for size. You'll know when it is too thick as you will likely have difficulty getting into appropriate lifting positions.

Note that, if you're planning on entering a powerlifting contest, your belt must be no wider than 4 inches everywhere and no thicker than 13 millimeters to meet regulation principles.

Pick Your Belt Material According to Your Lifting Style

Belts are made from leather, suede, or velcro, and it's going to come down to personal taste. For powerlifting, most lifters I spoke to indicate leather. Leather belts tend to construct better, more lasting, and stiffer.

A suede belt will feel softer, and often I hear newcomers say they feel more comfortable. On the other hand, many belts like the one from Dark Iron Fitness combine the ruggedness of leather and the non-toxic cloth of suede to give you the best of both worlds.

In this roundup review, I tried to include one or two belts of each type of material, and stuck to weightlifting belts only. Let's take a look!

Things to Consider When Buying Weight Lifting Belts

Weightlifting belts are an accessory used by lifters to minimize injury and increase performance. Sounds good, right? But the question is, do you need one?

Not all lifters need weightlifting belts. Sometimes, wearing one when it isn’t even necessary can hinder more than it can help. Let's look into the advantages and disadvantages to find out whether you need one or not.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The main advantage of wearing a weightlifting belt is that it minimizes the risk of injuries. It does that by increasing pressure on your abdomen, stabilizing your spine and making it safer to lift. It can also improve your performance by allowing you to lift heavier weights.

Belts' Advantages/Disadvantages

It also comes with its set of disadvantages, one of which is that it can impair your motor learning. Using a weightlifting belt can make you dependent on it, so you don’t get the opportunity to learn how to use your muscles properly. This is because the belt does most of the work.

It can also make your lower back relatively weaker than the rest of your body. The belt takes off the stress on your lower back, so without the pressure, it won’t be properly developed. This is also a result of your body depending on the belt to do the bulk of the work.

So, Do You Need a Belt?

A lot of people tend to get belts and use them when it’s not necessary for their workout. You should get one if you’re lifting something 80% heavier than your 1-rep max to minimize risks of injury. This is also useful for powerlifting or deadlifts.

Do You Need A Belt?

If you’re lifting weights lighter than 80% of your 1-rep max, then you should not use a belt. This will be a detriment to the development of your core and your lower back. Also, do not use a belt for exercises where you are not standing up.

Our Top 5 Picks For 2018's Best Weight Lifting Belts

#1. Fire Team Fit Weightlifting Belt

The Fire Team Fit Weightlifting Belt is designed to give you support and maintain good form. It has a velcro strap so you can adjust it however you please for your comfort. It is available in five variations, so you’re sure to find one that fits your style.

It is available in 4 sizes ranging from 27” to 42”. If you get the wrong size, it is easy to get a refund or replacement. It is manufactured using quality materials and has a sturdy roller buckle, making sure it lasts for a long time.

Our Rating: ​

What We Like:

  • Fantastic customer service.
  • Great product for the price point.
  • Very lightweight.

What We Didn't Like:

  • The size ranges are somewhat inaccurate.
  • It wears off after a while, but it might be off-putting especially when you first get it.
  • It has a chemical smell.

#2. Genuine Leather Pro Weightlifting Belt for Men and Women

This belt by Dark Iron Fitness is made of genuine, high-quality, durable cowhide leather.

It also has a double-pronged buckle instead of velcro or plastic clips which keep it in place. It also comes in 5 sizes ranging from 23” to 49” so it’s easy to find one that fits you.

The leather belt is 5mm thick, and its height measures 4”. It is very lightweight and compact, weighing 1.5lbs. It also has a beautiful design which looks stylish. This belt promises to give you its maximum support and not succumb to wear and tear.

Our Rating: ​

What We Like:

  • Super easy to clean.
  • It has a large range of sizes: for people with a 23” to 49” waistline.
  • The company has excellent customer service: lifetime warranty and belt replacement if it has any manufacturing defects.

What We Didn't Like:

  • It does not provide a variety of colors, only black and red ones are available.
  • 4” might be a bit too broad, it can poke in your ribs or your hips.
  • No second loop, the end of the belt sticks out after securing it in place.

#3. Harbinger Weightlifting Belt

The Harbinger Weight Lifting Belt measures 5”, has a strap that measures 3”, and it claims to provide maximum support.

It’s mainly made out of foam which is supposed to keep your muscles warm and comfortable. It also has a plush tricot lining which feels comfortable against your skin.

It comes in four sizes, ranging from 24-42 inches so you can surely find a belt that fits you. The steel roller buckle makes tensioning almost effortless. It uses velcro to close and secure the strap to your body.

Best Price/Performance:

What We Like:

  • Nylon material provides great support and comfort.
  • 90-day warranty.
  • Velcro makes it easier to adjust the tightness, unlike belts with holes and buckles.

What We Didn't Like:

  • Folding it may leave creases on the belt.
  • Velcro does not last very long.

#4. Gabor Fitness Contoured Neoprene Back Support Weight Lifting Belt

This belt from Gabor Fitness is made out of neoprene making it lightweight yet highly durable. It has a contoured design which provides additional support in the back. It closes with a velcro strap which is easily adjustable.

It has three size ranges: small/medium, large/XL, and XXL. It ranges from 29” to 48” so if you’re in between those sizes, you can easily find a belt that fits. Furthermore, it’s also very affordable, costing around $13-17.

Our Rating: ​

What We Like:

  • It comes with a good price.
  • The neoprene foam gives you great mobility.
  • It provides great support despite its lightweight quality, no need to sacrifice stability for mobility with this one!

What We Didn't Like:

  • Less recommended for massive lifting. If you’re lifting huge weights, a leather belt is more advisable.
  • It might give off a smell. 

#5. ProFitness Workout Belt

The ProFitness Genuine Leather Workout Belt is made out of genuine leather. It has a non-slip fit, so you’re sure it won’t slip while you’re lifting or doing your routine.

It’s also stretch and tear resistant, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking under the strain of your workout.

It is 4 inches wide, and it also comes in three sizes: small, medium, large. Despite the limited sizes, it ranges from 23”-49”. It has an adjustable double pronged buckle to ensure that it is secure and supportive.

Best Editor's Choice:

What We Like:

  • It comes in four styles: red, orange, yellow, and white are available.
  • It is very lightweight.
  • If you aren’t satisfied with it, you can return it within 60 days for a full refund.

What We Didn't Like:

  • Sizes are limited.
  • The end of the belt sticks out, this is very prominent if you are on the smaller end and will be using the first few holes.

The Verdict

The Verdict

Out of the five of these, The ProFitness Genuine Leather Workout Belt is the best choice. It was a very close fight since it appeared to be almost identical to the Dark Iron Fitness belt. Their differences were in style choices and warranty.

The Pro Fitness Belt is also slightly cheaper than the Dark Iron Fitness one. It has the biggest size range among all of them, making it an ideal choice for a lot of people. It is also sturdy and resistant to damage as it is made of leather. Although Dark Iron Fitness is the more reputable brand, with better after sales support.

When picking a weightlifting belt, you have to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth by buying something that lasts. For the best Price/Performance Belt, the Harbinger Weightlifting Belt is our choice.

Even more so for belts because you will probably be using this almost every day. A good weightlifting belt is an investment and a game-changer.

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