Weightlifting belts are one of the most popular training tools in the gym – and they have been for decades.
The biggest benefit of a weight belt is that properly wearing one can increase intra-abdominal pressure and allow you to lift heavier weights more safely.
We’ve tested every type of lifting belt from some of the biggest names in the industry. We’ve used them on squats, deadlifts, presses, Olympic lifts, strongman lifts, and more. Here are some of the main factors we considered (more below):
- Fastening System: How quickly or easily can you tighten and release the belt?
- Thickness: How rigid is the belt? Does it break in easily?
- Materials: Is the belt made of high-quality materials like leather or heavy-duty nylon? Is it built for long-term use?
- Size: Does the belt come in sizes or is it one size fits all? How well does it fit overall?
In this article, I’ll share our picks for the best weight belts based on real experience for different price points, lifting styles, and more. No matter your experience level or training goals, we’ve got you covered.
The Best Weightlifting Belts
- Best Weightlifting Belt for Most People: Rogue USA Nylon Belt
- Best Budget Weightlifting Belt: Gymreapers Quick-Lock Weight Belt
- Best Leather Lifting Belt: Rogue Faded 4″ Lifting Belt by Pioneer
- Best Weight Belt for Powerlifting: Gymreapers Lever Belt
- Best Budget Weight Belt for Powerlifting: Iron Bull Double Prong Belt
- Best Weight Belt for CrossFit: 2POOD Straight Weightlifting Belt
- Best Budget Weight Belt for CrossFit: Element 26 Self-Locking Weightlifting Belt
- Best Olympic Weightlifting Belt: Rogue Ohio Oly Belt
- Best Hybrid Weightlifting Belt: Element 26 Hybrid Weightlifting Belt
- Best Custom Weight Belt: Belt Fed Strength Belts
- Best Weighted Dip Belt: Gymreapers Dip Belt
Rogue USA Nylon Belt: Best Lifting Belt for Most People
The Rogue USA Nylon Belt is a high-quality weight belt with a tapered design, stiff foam core, and a strong velcro enclosure. It's an affordable USA-made belt with great customer reviews.
- Material: Nylon
- Locking Type: Velcro
- Width: 5″ with 4″ Taper
- Thickness: 6.35mm
- Size Range: XS (26″) – 3XL (47″)
- Color: Multiple
The Rogue USA Nylon Belt takes top honors for most people on this list. It’s a well-made belt with solid specs and an excellent reputation.
While I prefer a leather weightlifting belt in my own training, many people prefer a nylon belt like this because it’s more versatile. Being nylon, this belt is less rigid than leather, making it suitable for a wide range of movements. You can perform squats, deadlifts, Olympic movements, and more with this belt.
Unlike the other nylon belts on this list, the Rogue USA belt has a wider back of 5″ compared to the traditional 4″. This provides a little more surface area and generally feels more supportive. Lifters with longer torsos will likely appreciate the design. The belt then tapers down to 4″ around the sides and front to provide more comfort.
The velcro enclosure is typical for this type of belt and is easy to use. It uses a roller buckle to make adjustments easier and will fit lifters with navel measurements of 26″-47″. The velcro strap attaches to a 3″ support strap surrounding a foam core.
Despite its enhanced structure, the downside to this belt is that it’s not as supportive as a leather belt. If you’re a powerlifter or moving heavy weights, I recommend looking at the leather options on this list.
Aesthetically, the Rogue USA Nylon Belt is available in several colors and patterns, including black, blue, gray, pink, and camo. The middle section includes a colored Rogue logo, and there’s a unique area near the buckle where you can add a patch. Rogue sells over 30 patches, but you can use any patch that fits the 3″x2″ velcro section.
Pricewise, the Rogue USA Nylon Belt runs $60, nearly double the price of the budget nylon belts that made the list. You’re paying for made-in-the-USA and a more rigid belt.
Gymreapers Quick-Locking Belt: Best Budget Lifting Belt
The Gymreapers Quick Locking Belt is my top pick for a budget shopper. Priced under $35 with free shipping, this nylon belt has a lot going for it.
Gymreapers has become one of the most popular names in the fitness accessory space. Their belts, wraps, straps, and sleeves strike a great balance between performance and price.
In terms of specs, this belt has a uniform 4″ width, which most lifters will find supportive and comfortable. It’s not quite as rigid as the Rogue USA Nylon Belt above, but I felt comfortable performing most movements with it. Like other nylon belts, it’s not as supportive when going super heavy, particularly on maximum-effort deadlifts.
The velcro enclosure system is easy to use, with a sliding pin that clinches down for tightness. This two-way fastener still maintains tightness even if the velcro isn’t engaged. The patch is sewn onto a 3″ support strip and is reinforced with several stitched seams to increase durability.
Aesthetically, I think Gymreapers has some of the best colors and patterns for this style of belt. In addition to single colors, they have several camo options, and I like the sewn skull logo.
Regarding price, there are less expensive belts on the market, but I don’t recommend going any lower than this. They use inferior materials that are prone to wearing out much faster.
Gymreapers provides a lifetime warranty, which is even better than the Rogue belt above. If you see any areas of defect, they’ll ship you a brand new one at no cost. Considering the low price, that’s a great deal.
Rogue Faded Belt by Pioneer: Best Leather Lifting Belt
The Rogue Faded Belt by Pioneer is my favorite full leather lifting belt. It looks great, performs well, and includes a unique hole pattern for micro-adjustments.
The best feature of this belt is the offset hole pattern called the pioneer cut. I’ve been using pioneer cut belts since 2018 – it’s a game changer compared to traditional prong designs. Conventional prong belts have holes spaced 1″ apart, whereas pioneer cut belts have holes spaced 0.5″ apart. This gives you twice the number of holes to fine-tune your tightness.
Rather than having a fixed prong, this belt has a prong that can travel up and down. It works easily and has no impact on the amount of tightness once engaged.
The Faded Rogue Belt is constructed with 8.5mm thick leather, providing a rigid but comfortable belt. I prefer a 10mm thickness for heavy powerlifting movements, although the 8.5mm thickness still provides a stiff shell to press against.
The inside of the belt is lined with a suede cover to prevent the belt from slipping on your shirt or skin. I recommend anyone looking for a leather belt to buy one with a suede interior. The outside of the belt has a beautiful vegetable tanned two-toned aesthetic, giving it the ‘faded’ look that the name implies.
As with other leather belts, there will be a break-in period for it to relax and conform to your body. The 8.5mm thickness speeds that process up, but I recommend rolling and bending the belt in the early days.
Pricewise, this is one of the more expensive belts on this list, but for a good reason. This USA-made belt is built to last for years – and it will. Mine have held up beautifully, and the Pioneer/Rogue reputation is among the strongest in the belt market.
If you’re a heavy powerlifter, I recommend focusing on 10mm or 13mm options. However, this belt is still a great choice regardless of your strength.
Gymreapers Lever Belt: Best Lifting Belt for Powerlifting
The Gymreapers Lever Belt is an affordable IPF-approved leather powerlifting belt. It has a fast lever fastener and is available in several colors.
- Material: Leather
- Locking Type: Lever
- Width: 4″
- Thickness: 10mm
- Size Range: XS (24″) – 2XL (46″)
- Color: Multiple
I think lever belts are the ideal powerlifting pick, and the Gymreapers Lever Belt offers awesome bang for the buck. Additionally, this belt is now IPF-approved.
The biggest benefit of a lever belt is how quickly you can engage and disengage tightness. Unlike a prong belt, where you have to line up the hole and maybe even get assistance to get extra tight, a lever is instant. The Gymreapers belt has a quality steel lever with a sleek matte black finish.
The belt is built with 10mm leather, which is the ideal thickness for most powerlifters. It’s rigid, durable, and easier to work with than 13mm. You should expect a break-in period with this belt, just like other thick leather belts. If you prefer the thicker option, Gymreapers has a 13mm lever belt also.
You’ll find interior and exterior suede to prevent slippage and control moisture. Additionally, suede is a great way to offer multiple colors, which the Gymreapers belt does. You can pick from eight different colors, including single colors and camo options. Single-color belts have “GYMREAPERS” embroidered on the back with their skull logo, while camo options only have the skull.
This belt is well-priced compared to most high-quality lever belts, but the 1-year warranty isn’t as strong as some. With this type of belt, the lever represents the biggest fail point. If a lever fails beyond warranty, it’s inexpensive and easy to order a replacement online, either through Gymreapers or elsewhere.
If you have a bigger budget, Belt Fed Strength, Pioneer, Inzer, and SBD are other options. However, you’ll pay more, and not all of them are IPF-approved like the Gymreapers Belt.
Iron Bull Double Prong Belt: Best Budget Powerlifting Belt
The Iron Bull Powerlifting Belt is a 10mm leather belt with a double-prong enclosure. It's a budget-friendly option with several color options.
- Material: Leather
- Locking Type: Double Prong
- Width: 4″
- Thickness: 10mm
- Size Range: S (25″) – 2XL (50″)
- Color: Multiple
If you’re looking for a budget powerlifting belt, I recommend the Iron Bull Double Prong Belt. This belt is well-reviewed and available at a great price with free shipping.
The Iron Bull belt has a 10mm thickness and a rigid feel that’s supportive for the big three power lifts. A nice benefit of this belt is that it’s available in a wide size range, from 25″ to 50″.
This belt uses a double-prong enclosure, creating a secure fit. Although it sounds like you may get extra security with an extra prong, tightness is the same as a single-prong belt. The downside to the double enclosure is that it takes longer to engage and disengage since you have to line up two prongs. I prefer a single-prong belt, but budget-friendly powerlifting belts almost exclusively have two prongs – likely because of the marketing perception of additional security.
To be clear, this is a nice belt for the money, but know that it comes at the expense of additional setup time.
Both the interior and exterior of the belt are covered in suede with several color options. The back of the belt has the name and logo embroidered in contrasting stitching, and the double-stitched seams at the top and bottom create a nice look.
Overall, I recommend this belt to budget shoppers. If you’re a competitive lifter or have a bigger budget, I would invest in a higher-quality single-prong or lever belt. I wouldn’t recommend going any less expensive on a powerlifting belt because the quality won’t match.
2POOD Straight Weightlifting Belt: Best Lifting Belt for CrossFit
The 2POOD Straight Weightlifting Belt is the official belt of USA Weightlifting. It's made with nylon, has a stiff foam core, and is available in tons of designs.
- Material: Nylon
- Locking Type: Velcro
- Width: 4″
- Thickness: 7.3mm
- Size Range: XXS (27.5″) – XL (46.5″)
- Color: Multiple
2POOD has an odd name, but it’s one of the most respected belt brands in the industry. Used by elite lifters like CJ Cummings, Mattie Rogers, and several more, this belt has a strong reputation. In fact, it’s the official belt of USA Weightlifting.
Regarding specs, this belt appears similar to the Gymreapers Quick-Locking Belt above and the Element 26 Self-Locking belt below. It has a 4″ width, velcro enclosure, etc. However, unlike those, it has a foam core that makes it noticeably stiffer and better for heavier lifting. The soft fabric interior lining is also more comfortable than the exposed nylon on others.
The fastening mechanism is exactly the same as the others, with a sliding roller pin and velcro flap. One difference, though, is that this belt provides more velcro coverage. For example, the 2POOD flap has 15″ of velcro coverage compared to 10.5″ on the others. Overall, it’s an easy belt to use and adjust, and you can get a tight fit quickly.
Another great feature of the 2POOD belt is that it comes in a ton of colors and patterns. I’m not talking about your typical stuff either, although they have that. They have patterns that include sparkles, peaches, donuts, corgis, cocktails, and many more. If that’s not enough, they allow you to customize your belt (for a premium) with your own patterns, logos, etc.
At ~$65, the 2POOD belt is twice the price of the Gymreapers and Element 26 belts. While it has many of the same features, the foam core, additional velcro coverage, and unique patterns make it a better overall belt. Is it worth the extra cost? That’s up to you.
Element 26 Self-Locking Belt: Best Budget CrossFit Belt
The Element 26 Self-Locking Belt is a quick-adjustment nylon belt at a great price. It has multiple color options and a lifetime warranty.
- Material: Nylon
- Locking Type: Velcro
- Width: 4″
- Thickness: 6.3mm
- Size Range: XS (23″) – XXL (50″)
- Color: Multiple
The Element 26 Self-Locking Belt is one of the most reviewed weightlifting belts on the market. It’s especially popular within the CrossFit community, and at under $35 shipped, it’s an excellent budget option. It’s also approved for use in USA Weightlifting competitions.
Like the Gymreapers Quick-Locking Belt, the Element 26 Belt has a self-locking fastener that uses a roller pin for double security. In other words, if the velcro somehow comes undone, the belt will still be tight because of the buckle. It can be a little awkward at first, but the learning curve is quick. It’s also optional since you can pull the flap over the buckle instead of routing it through the pin.
This belt has a 4″ width and a 3″ support strap. The velcro patch has several reinforcement seams and holds tightly in my testing. Some customers have reported the velcro patch coming loose, but I haven’t experienced that after using the belt for several months. Even still, with Element’s lifetime warranty, that shouldn’t be a major issue.
The Element 26 Belt comes in several colors but no patterns, which I like about the Gymreapers and 2POOD belts. However, it’s an overall nice-looking belt.
Ultimately, this belt is very similar to the Gymreapers Quick-Locking Belt. It’s marginally more expensive and doesn’t have patterned designs, but it’s a tried and true belt with great customer feedback.
- Very affordable
- Self-locking roller pin provides two-way security
- Comfortable 4″ uniform width
- 15,000+ positive reviews
- Liftetime warranty
- More flexible than some nylon belts
- Fewer color options than some
- Some customers have reported loosening velcro
Full Review: Element 26 Self-Locking Weight Belt Review
Rogue Ohio Oly Belt: Best Olympic Weightlifting Belt
The Oly Ohio Belt by Rogue is a USA-made leather belt with a tapered design. It's ideal for Olympic weightlifting movements and has a single prong.
- Material: Leather
- Locking Type: Single Prong
- Width: 4″ with 2″ taper
- Thickness: 10mm
- Size Range: S (21″) – XXL (45″)
- Color: Brown
The Rogue Ohio Oly Belt is a premium leather belt built for Olympic weightlifting. This USA-made belt has a great spec profile, impressive performance, and great reviews.
One of the common features of an Olympic weightlifting belt is a tapered design. This belt offers a 4″ wide back and tapers down to 2″ on the sides and front. The benefit of this is to provide ample back support while reducing front material that could interfere with Olympic lifts. It may also increase comfort when bending down and getting into position.
The belt is constructed with 10mm leather, providing a rigid structure to press into. It uses a single-prong fastening mechanism that’s easier to use than full-width belts because of its narrower tongue. There’s still a break-in period with this belt, but you can expect it to conform to your body quicker.
I’m impressed by the stitching on this belt, which appears to use a thicker thread than most. I also love the contrasting white fabric against the tan leather. Overall, this is a beautiful-looking belt with a classic leather aesthetic.
For the price, this belt is on par with other high-quality Oly belts. I recommend the Rogue Ohio Oly Belt if you’re a competitive or serious Olympic weightlifter and prefer a leather belt over nylon. The tapered design will be more comfortable than a full-width leather belt for Oly movements. It will also reduce the risk of inadvertently making bar contact with the belt on dynamic lifts.
Element 26 Hybrid Weightlifting Belt: Best Hybrid Lifting Belt
The Element-26 Hybrid Belt blends features of leather and nylon belts to create a rigid, velcro-enclosed weight belt.
- Material: Leather & Nylon
- Locking Type: Velcro
- Width: 4″
- Thickness: 6mm
- Size Range: XS (23″) – XXL (50″)
- Color: Black
The Element 26 Hybrid Belt is one of the most unique belts on this list. It blends a leather belt with the velcro enclosure on nylon belts.
Although this belt is leather and is much more rigid than nylon, it’s still not as stiff as most traditional leather belts. With a 6mm thickness, it’s good for most people, but some may find it lacking for heavy lifts. I like it for volume squats and functional movements, but it wasn’t rigid enough for max-effort deadlifts. Still, it’s an improvement over nylon in that department.
The self-locking velcro system is the same that Element 26 uses on its weightlifting belt. It’s easy to use and provides two-way security. If you’re looking for a high level of adjustability, this is a great feature for a leather belt. Otherwise, I prefer a prong or lever system.
I like how this belt looks, but it’s only available in black. I hope Element 26 decides to introduce other colors or at least colored accents for more variety.
If you’re looking for an affordable leather belt and like a self-locking mechanism, the Element 26 Hybrid Belt is the best option.
Belt Fed Strength Belts: Best Custom Lifting Belts
Belt Fed Strength makes hand-crafted weight belts with prong or lever designs. With custom artwork, sizes, and more, these are premium belts for serious lifters.
- Material: Leather
- Locking Type: Prong or Lever
- Width: 3″ or 4″
- Thickness: 10mm or 13mm
- Size Range: Custom Fit
- Color: Custom
My Belt Fed Strength Lever Belt is one of my prized possessions. Nobody is doing custom like Belt Fed, and their craftsmanship is truly incredible. This husband & wife team takes pride in their work, leaving no stone unturned when bringing your vision to life.
These belts come in various sizes and fasteners, depending on your preference. They offer 3″ and 4″ stock widths and 8.5mm, 10mm, and 13mm diameters. They can also customize the width, and all lengths are custom-cut based on your measurements.
Belt Fed has options for single prong or lever, but you can pick a blank belt if you want to add an aftermarket lever like the Pioneer PAL. Their prong belts have a unique beveled tongue in contrast to the common rounded tongue. This doesn’t impact performance, but it’s a nice visual touch.
Aesthetically, you can pick single colors, custom dyes, embroidery, and custom artwork. All belts have a suede interior, which you can customize with color and text. Their artwork is hand-tooled and then meticulously painted by hand. Some of their designs are out of this world. Finally, the debossed logo at the end of the belt is an understated branding element.
If you like the idea of a custom belt, Belt Fed Strength and Pioneer are the primary players. Both are fantastic options, but I give Belt Fed the edge for their process and level of detail. The downside is that lead times are long since everything is made to order. Non-art belts can take 3-4 weeks, while full-art belts can take up to 12 weeks.
These belts are also more expensive, as you would expect. Their full-art ‘Executive’ belt costs $300, but you can purchase their ‘Original’ Belt with custom colors for as low as $160.
Gymreapers Dip Belt: Best Weighted Dip Belt
The Gymreapers Dip Belt is a comfortable weighted dip belt with a 300 lb weight capacity, several color options, and an affordable price.
- Weight: 1.9 lbs
- Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
- Width: 4″ (6.5″ on back)
- Length: 32″
- Chain Length: 30″
- Colors: Black, Gray, Navy Blue, Ranger Green, or Red
While a weighted dip belt doesn’t do the same things as the weightlifting belts on this list, they’re great for overloading dips or pull-ups. As you progress with those lifts, adding weight is the best way to increase strength and improve results.
An easy way to add weight is by using a dip belt, and my belt of choice is the Gymreapers dip belt. This belt is made of nylon and has a tapered design with good back support. It’s very comfortable compared to the stiffer dip belts I’ve used.
Unlike weightlifting belts, a dip belt doesn’t fasten in the front. Instead, it uses a chain connected to two steel loops to cinch around your waist. As soon as you load weight onto the chain, the belt tightens and remains in place throughout the lift.
The belt has a loading capacity of 300 lbs, which is more than enough for most people. However, the 30″ chain may be a little short depending on the plates you’re using and your waist size. If you need extra length, you can add additional carabiners or buy a custom-cut piece of chain from your local hardware store for cheap.
The Gymreapers Dip Belt comes in three colors: all black, green/black, and red/black. I’d love to see them introduce other colors, like their weightlifting belt, but it’s a nice-looking belt regardless.
If you’re looking for a quality, affordable dip belt, you can’t go wrong with this one from Gymreapers.
Compare our Top Picks
Compare our selection of the best weight belts below based on key specs. Scroll right to see more.
|Rogue USA Nylon Belt|
|Rogue Faded Pioneer Belt|
|Gymreapers Lever Belt|
|Iron Bull Double Prong|
|2POOD Straight Lifting Belt|
|Element 26 Self-Locking|
|Rogue Ohio Oly Belt|
|Element 26 Hybrid Belt|
|Belt Fed Strength Belt|
|Gymreapers Dip Belt
|Award||Best for Most||Best Budget Belt||Best Leather Belt||Best for Powerlifting||Best Budget Powerlifting||Best for Crossfit||Best Budget for Crossfit||Best Oly Belt||Best Hybrid Belt||Best Custom Belt||Best Dip Belt|
|Material||Nylon||Nylon||Leather||Leather||Leather||Nylon||Nylon||Leather||Leather & Nylon||Leather||Nylon|
|Locking Type||Velcro||Velcro||Single Prong||Lever||Double Prong||Velcro||Velcro||Single Prong||Velcro||Prong or Lever||Velcro|
|Width||5″ w/ 4″ Taper||4″||4″||4″||4″||4″||4″||4″ w/ 2″ Taper||4″||3″ or 4″||6.5″ w/ 4″ Taper|
|Thickness||6.35mm||6.3mm||8.5mm||10mm or 13mm||10mm||7.3mm||6.3mm||10mm||6mm||10mm or 13mm||12mm|
|Size Range||XS (26″) – 3XL (47″)||XS (23″) – 2XL (49″)||XS (22″) – XL (48″)||XS (24″) – 2XL (46″)||S (25″) – 2XL (50″)||XXS (27.5″) – XL (46.5″)||XS (23″) – 2XL (50″)||S (21″) – 2XL (45″)||XS (23″) – 2XL (50″)||Custom Fit||One Size|
|Colors||5||12||Brown/Tan||8||7||Many + Custom||8||Brown||Black||Infinite||5|
Benefits of Weightlifting Belts
Increases Intra-Abdominal Pressure & Core Stability
The biggest benefit of using a weightlifting belt is that it increases intra-abdominal pressure. When worn correctly, a belt can provide a rigid 360-degree surface to press against, which increases core stability and reduces spinal compression (1)(2).
As a result, wearing a lifting belt can allow you to lift heavier loads more safely. However, it’s important to note that simply wearing a weight belt will not achieve these results. You must maintain proper form and brace into the belt correctly.
Teaches Proper Bracing
So, what is proper bracing? Often, when someone is told to brace for a lift, they’ll take a deep breath from high in the chest and then tighten down their abs. This is not proper bracing, nor does it increase internal pressure.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, merely wearing a welt belt will not magically increase abdominal pressure. A belt is a proprioceptive tool that cues you into bracing around your core with a deep belly breath. You should feel as if you’re expanding the belt outward 360 degrees.
Once you understand the mechanics around it, you should be able to brace better without a belt for submaximal lifting. Even still, you should not ignore core training. I recommend the McGill Big 3 for developing 360-degree core stability.
Wearing a weight belt can boost your confidence in a few ways. First, when worn properly, you’re given immediate feedback on the quality of your bracing. Over time, your bracing will improve, positively impacting your life in and out of the gym.
Second, increased abdominal pressure with the assistance of a belt can help you generate more explosive power by increasing speed without sacrificing form (3). More power can lead to more load/volume, which can lead to enhanced results.
Third, a properly-worn weightlifting belt can reduce discomfort and help stabilize the trunk (4), allowing you to lift more safely.
Types of Weightlifting Belts
Prong belts are arguably the most recognizable type of weight belt. Also known as a buckle-style belt, a prong system is similar to a regular belt you wear with pants – only bigger and much stronger.
Prong belts are generally leather and come in two styles: single-prong and double-prong. Both provide excellent tightness and strength, but single prongs are easier to use since you only have to align one prong.
A prong belt is commonly used for powerlifting, bodybuilding, and Olympic Weightlifting, but you can use one for any lifting style. One drawback to this style of belt is that you’re mostly limited to 1″ hole spacing, which could put you in between tightness levels.
Lever Belts are a popular powerlifting option because they’re fast, secure, and easy to get tight. While you may need help getting a prong belt tight, a lever belt can be tightened and released within a second. The ‘lever flick’ after a big lift is a satisfying boss move that no other belt can match. A lever system is always made for a leather belt.
The biggest drawback to levers is that they’re installed for a single fit. If you train with multiple people or prefer different tightness levels on certain lifts, this makes adjustments more difficult. However, some levers (Pioneer PAL and SBD) are designed to accommodate quick changes.
Prong and lever belts are the most popular styles of weightlifting belts because of their durability, consistent tightness, and ease of use.
Velcro Belts are the most economical belts. This style is affordable, easy to use, and best for general-purpose lifting. They’re especially popular in CrossFit and bodybuilding, where stiff belts aren’t as necessary. Velcro systems are almost exclusively made for nylon belts, but some leather belts will have them (known as a hybrid belt).
The biggest drawback to a velcro belt is that they’re generally more flexible and not as durable as prong or lever belts.
Ratchet Belts aren’t nearly as common as the others, but it’s a unique system built for powerlifting. Think of a ratchet belt like the ratchet straps you use to tie things down in the back of a pickup truck. They’re good for quick and adjustable tightness levels, but they’re bulky and more expensive. They also introduce a larger fail point if the buckle or strap breaks.
How to Pick a Weight Belt
Here are a few of the most important factors to consider when buying a weightlifting belt:
Your training style is the best indicator for picking a particular belt style. Heavy lifters (e.g., Powerlifters) should focus on more rigid belts for maximum stability and security. Functional fitness athletes (e.g., CrossFitters) are better served with more flexible belts to accommodate a variety of dynamic movements.
Weight belts are typically made of two materials: leather and nylon.
Leather is an iconic belt material with excellent results. It’s rigid and durable, making it a great option for powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters. However, with varying thicknesses, any lifter can benefit from a leather belt.
Nylon is another durable belt material that provides good structure with a more flexible body. I recommend a nylon belt to those who perform a lot of dynamic movements or are looking for a general-purpose weight belt. The biggest thing to look for on a nylon belt is resistance to fraying and velcro durability. User reviews are typically a great source for these insights.
The fastening system is one of the most important elements of a weightifting belt. Refer to the section above for more details, but as a general rule of thumb:
- Powerlifters: Prong or Lever (ratchet in rare cases)
- Weightlifters: Prong or Velcro
- CrossFitters/Functional Athletes: Velcro or Prong
- Bodybuilders: Prong or Velcro
Lifting belts come in various sizes to fit most body types. These sizes are generally represented in ranges from 23″ to 50″. While it may seem obvious to pick a size based on your pant size, you should use a flexible tape measure around your navel instead.
If you’re in between sizes, it’s always better to size down unless you’re planning to gain weight. For example, if you measure 31″ and the belt has a size small from 27″-31″ and a size medium from 31″-36″, pick the small.
Belt thickness is an indicator of rigidity. The most common leather belt thickness is 10mm, which is a great blend of comfort and stability. Heavy or big-bodied lifters can jump up to 13mm. Conversely, smaller lifters can move down to 8.5mm or even 6mm.
Keep in mind that thicker belts will have a longer break-in period (more below). For example, a 13mm belt will take much longer to loosen up/contour to your body than an 8.5mm belt.
Nylon belts don’t provide the same range since most are between 5-6.5mm. These belts also don’t require a break-in period since they’re already more flexible.
Width & Taper
In belt terms, width is also synonymous with height – it’s the distance from the top of the belt to the bottom. The most common width on a weight belt is 4″, especially in the leather variety. However, you may find 5″ nylon belts and 3″ leather belts. 4″ is generally a good mix of support and comfort for most body types.
While most belts will have a uniform height, some will have a tapered design. A tapered belt is most common in Olympic weightlifting so that lifters get the same back support while lowering the risk of hitting the front of the belt on dynamic movements. Tapered belts are also popular among Bodybuilders.
Aside from the main materials, there are a couple of things to consider when it comes to durability. On leather belts, make sure there aren’t signs of separation or cracking. Additionally, the stitching should consist of a tight weave with no loose threads. Some belts will have dual stitching, while others will have single, but either is acceptable. Read user reviews to see if there are reports of busted rivets or levers since both are fail points.
On nylon belts, the most common concern is over the velcro patching. Over time, the corners may peel up, resulting in the whole patch coming off. Again, read user reviews to see if this is a frequent problem with the specific belt you’re researching.
While Nylon belts don’t require a break-in period, leather belts do, depending on their thickness. When you first receive a leather weight belt, it will be very stiff and not very comfortable. Over time, your belt will relax and conform more to your body. However, there are some things you can do to speed up the break-in process.
- Roll the belt as tightly as possible in both directions, especially in the opposite direction.
- Twist and bend the belt repeatedly in multiple directions.
- Wear it often in the early days so it adapts to your body shape. This will also help you learn how to use the belt.
Colors & Customization
Weightlifting belts come in various colors and customization options. Nylon belts specifically have numerous colors and designs to choose from. Leather belts primarily come in brown variations, but many are covered in suede, which is available in many colors. Companies like Belt Fed Strength and Pioneer can further customize belts with embroidery, art, stitch color, and more.
If you compete in powerlifting or Olympic weightlifting, you need to know what belts are approved in competitions. The two big ones to look for are the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) and the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation). They each offer a list of approved gear that you should consult before purchasing. The last thing you want is to find out you can’t use your belt on meet day.
Lifting belts are relatively affordable training tools. Before investing in one, know your goals and needs. Are you a competitive powerlifter or weightlifter? If so, I recommend purchasing a premium belt ($120+) with relevant certifications. Otherwise, you can find quality belts for under $50 and many more under $100.
- Inzer Forever Lever Belt: I’ve owned an Inzer Forever Level Belt since 2016 – it’s a fantastic IPF-approved belt with a great reputation. Available in 10mm or 13mm, it’s a rigid belt with a durable and fast-acting lever. Despite how much I like it, I didn’t include it in the main list because customer service is lacking if you order directly from Inzer. It can take weeks to receive your belt, and there are no updates along the way. That said, Inzer has ready-to-ship belts on Amazon in various colors and sizes. If you go with Inzer, I highly recommend going through Amazon.
- Vulcan Strength 10mm Belt: I’ve owned the Vulcan Strength 10mm Powerlifting Belt since 2018 – it’s also a high-quality belt. It includes a suede interior and exterior and is available in multiple colors. If you can catch this belt on sale, I recommend it. However, without free shipping, I don’t feel it’s better than the others that made the list.
- REP Lifting Belt: The REP Lifting Belt is a 10mm powerlifting belt built similarly to the popular Rogue Ohio Belt. It’s a solid belt option at an attractive price (w/ free shipping), but it didn’t make the list because the size options are limited. Starting at 31″ and ending at 47″, numerous other belts have a wider range.
- Dark Iron Fitness Belt: The Dark Iron Belt is the most reviewed belt on Amazon. It’s a good belt for beginners or budget shoppers with a broad size range. It’s only available in two colors, but more importantly, it only has a 600 lb capacity. If you don’t lift that heavy, it’s one to consider, but I like other options over this one.
- Schiek 2004 Belt: The model 2004 Belt from Scheik is a unique option with a less-common cone shape. It’s a popular bodybuilding belt with contoured edges to provide additional clearance for the hips and ribs. The belt uses a velcro enclosure and has a 4.75″ wide back. It’s also available in multiple colors and has a very wide size range from 24″-62″.
- SBD 13mm Lever Belt: The SBD Belt caught the world by storm when it was first launched because of its patented adjustable lever. It’s a high-quality IPF-approved power belt, but it didn’t make the list because it’s only available in one color and is much more expensive than others.
FAQs About Lifting Belts
What is the Best Type of Weightlifting Belt?
The best weight belt is the one that helps you achieve your goals. If you're moving heavy weight, look for thicker leather belts with more support. A less rigid nylon belt is more appropriate if you're training for CrossFit or other functional fitness programs.
Will a Weight Belt Protect My Back?
Several peer-reviewed research studies have found a correlation between wearing a weight belt and reduced spinal compression. However, a belt doesn't excuse poor form or bracing technique. By properly breathing into the entire belt and bracing against it, your back will benefit from additional stability.
Can a Weightlifting Belt Help Me Lift More Weight?
A common misconception is that wearing a weight belt will automatically make you stronger. It's not a magic tool, but it works when used properly. Some studies have found a weight belt can increase explosive power and help you lift more weight without sacrificing form.
Do I Need a Weightlifting Belt?
While a weight belt isn't an essential accessory, it has several benefits, including increased intra-abdominal pressure, more core stability, and the ability to lift heavier weights.
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