Best Weightlifting Belts – Introduction
What are the best weightlifting belts available on the market today?
If you are serious about strength training, you may want to wear a weight lifting belt.
But, to get the most from a lifting belt, you need to choose the right product and then work with it.
It’s not enough to just put it on and hope it will provide the lumbar support you need.
So, this article will explain when and how to use a weightlifting belt, and reveal five of the best currently available.
What Does a Weightlifting Belt Do?
Contrary to what a lot of people think, a weightlifting or powerlifting belt does NOT passively support your spine.
In fact, if you just put on a belt and then forget about it, you could increase your risk of injury.
Instead, you need to work with a belt to increase something called intra-abdominal pressure, or IAP for short.
IAP is the pressure within your abdominal cavity.
We usually create IAP by bracing our abs and inhaling.
This action “pumps up” your abdomen, making it rigid.
This rigidity supports your spine from within.
But, when lifting heavy loads, your abdominals tend to bow outward, and that reduces IAP.
Wearing a belt not only stops your abs bowing outward, but it also gives you something you actively push your abdominals into, which helps you to create even more IAP, for greater lumbar support.
Because of this, the best belts are thick, stiff, and, more importantly, wide – especially at the front.
Narrow belts don’t provide you with as much surface area to push against, making them a whole lot less effective.
The same is true for soft, flexible belts.
In addition, weightlifting belts should be tight.
If you can wear your belt for several sets at a time, it’s not tight enough.
Instead, you should be glad to take it off between sets and put it back on only when you’re ready to lift again.
When Should You Wear a Weightlifting Belt?
In theory, you could wear a weightlifting belt for your entire workout and for every exercise, including bench presses.
But you don’t really need it unless you are putting a lot of heavy-duty stress on your lower back.
If your back is not under stress, you don’t really need your belt.
In addition, you should save your belt for your heaviest lifts.
You probably won’t need to wear a belt for your warm-up sets, or any high-rep training with light weights.
Use it when you’re lifting heavy weights for low reps.
The reason for this is simple – you don’t want to lose your ability to brace your abs without a belt.
If you always wear a belt, you may forget how to brace.
Not wearing a belt will strengthen your core.
Using your belt less often means, when you DO put it on, you’ll really feel it working.
How to use a lifting belt
As mentioned above, wearing a belt is not a passive exercise.
Instead, it gives you something to brace your abdominals against to increase intra-abdominal pressure.
If you don’t yet know how to brace, you’re not ready to use a weightlifting belt.
Master bracing without a belt before you try and do it while wearing one.
Also, before using a belt, you should strengthen your core – your “natural” weightlifting belt.
Stronger abs will make a belt even more effective.
With that out the way, here’s how you should use a belt, including a reminder about bracing.
- Place the belt around your waist.
- It should fit in your natural waistline.
- If it’s too low, it will stop you from hip-hinging, and if it’s too high, your abs will bow out below out.
- Exhale to reduce your abdominal circumference.
- Tighten up the belt so it’s firm enough to stay in place and won’t slip up or down.
- Inhale and suck that air down and into your abdomen.
- Contract your abs as though you are waiting to get punched in the stomach.
- Your belly will press out and against the belt.
- Also, press out laterally with your waist muscles to create all-around core support.
- This takes some practice, but once you get it, it significantly increases core stability.
- Your entire midsection should feel rock-solid.
- Do your rep, exhale when it’s safe to do so, inhale and reset your core, and repeat.
Where to breathe depends on the exercise you are doing.
With deadlifts, the best place is when the barbell is on the floor between reps, for squats, it’s when you are standing fully upright.
Breathe when the exercise is at its easiest, and the need for core stability is lowest.
How To Use a Weightlifting Belt
The 5 Best Weightlifting Belts
Belts come in a variety of styles, designs, and materials.
Avoid lightweight nylon belts, belts with Velcro closures, and old-fashioned bodybuilding belts that have wide backs but narrow fronts.
None of those will help you to create the massive amounts of IAP you need to support your back during heavy deadlifts, squats, etc.
Instead, choose a powerlifting-style belt that is the same width all the way around, is thick and stiff, and takes some breaking in before it becomes comfortable.
A lot of belts come with a lifetime warranty.
That’s because they are super-strong and built to last.
A thick leather belt with a stainless-steel buckle will provide decades of faithful support.
A lightweight nylon belt won’t last a year!
- 10mm thick, genuine leather belt with suede finish, lever included
- Four rows of lock-stitched, corrosive-resistant, hi-density nylon
- Guaranteed FOREVER, Made in USA
Inzer makes some of the best powerlifting and weightlifting equipment around, including belts, squat suits, and bench press shirts.
Their belts are very popular with competitive lifters.
This Inzer lever belt is easy to adjust and put on and is guaranteed for life.
- Genuine single-layer leather belt
- Easy to use stainless steel lever buckle
- 10mm thick for maximum support
- Available in eight sizes and two colors
While this belt will take a few workouts to break in, once it’s molded a little to your body, it could be the last belt you ever buy.
The lever buckle is easy to flip open and closed, and much less fiddly than a standard buckle.
Once you’ve got it on, this belt feels incredibly secure and will noticeably increase your deadlift and squat performance.
- Built to last – very high quality
- Easy to use
- Very supportive
- Powerlifting federation approved
- Lifetime guarantee
- Will take a few workouts to break-in
- Adjusting the buckle to get the right fit requires a screwdriver
Before wearing the Inzer lever belt, you’ll need to adjust the buckle with a screwdriver.
This may take a few attempts and some trial and error.
Do this at home before hitting the gym!
- The Official Starting Strength Belt is designed for heavy powerlifting...
- A 3 inch leather lifting belt is appropriate for men and women because...
- Fully adjustable to last a lifetime. All belts have 11 holes spaced 1...
A lot of weightlifting belts have twin prong buckles.
While this does ensure the belt stays secure, it can also make putting your belt on and taking it off a little tricky.
Especially if your hands are shaking after an all-out set of squats or deadlifts.
This leather belt only has a single prong buckle, so it’s easier to use but no less supportive.
- The official belt for the Starting Strength powerlifting training program
- Three inches wide all around
- Available in five sizes
- Single prong stainless steel buckle
- 10 inches of adjustments
- Made from single layer top grain cow leather
- 10mm thick
- Lifetime warranty
Made from top-quality leather, this belt looks great.
It’s made by hand in the USA and embossed with the Starting Strength logo.
The natural leather has a definite old-school look that traditionalists will love.
But this is more than just a good-looking belt, it’s thick, stiff, and very well made, and will provide all the support you need for heavy strength training.
- Classic design
- Easy to operate single-prong buckle
- Each size offers ten inches of adjustments
- Very supportive
- The unfinished inner surface may feel rough against your skin
Starting Strength is one of the best strength training systems around, and this belt is more than up to the demands of the program.
Simple but very effective, this Starting Strength weightlifting belt will give you all the support you need to set some new personal records.
- Strong: Our weightlifting belts for men and women leather don't break,...
- Comfortable: Made from 100% genuine buffalo hide leather, the weight...
- 600 Lb Limit: Allowed you to squat or deadlift well over 500 and 600...
Good quality powerlifting belts can be expensive.
But that doesn’t have to be the case.
This double prong belt from Dark Iron Fitness is well made, competitively priced, and should provide plenty of support for your abs and back.
- Made from genuine cowhide leather
- 4mm thick
- Four inches wide
- Double prong stainless steel buckle
- Available in five sizes
- Double-stitched for strength
Most hardcore Olympic belts are 10mm thick, and some are even 14mm thick – the powerlifting federation’s legal limit.
This weight lifting belt is only 4mm thick.
Being thinner makes it lighter, more flexible, and more comfortable.
But it also means it won’t last as long.
Still, at less than half the price of most premium belts, it only seems right that it’s less than half the thickness too!
- Won’t take much breaking in
- Strong buckle
- Good quality stitching
- Very well priced
- Not as sturdy as a thicker belt
As a result, it’s more of a weight training belt than a weightlifting belt.
That said, for general strength training, this is a nice supportive belt that is also comfortable.
This Dark Iron Fitness Weight Lifting belt is more than up to the demands of a home gym workout, but if you want to train and compete in powerlifting, you’ll need a thicker belt.
- IMPROVED FORM & TECHNIQUE – Maintaining proper squat and lifting...
- PREVENT BACK INJURIES – Properly supporting your lower back (lumbar)...
- COMFORTABLE LEATHER – Each 4” wide genuine leather belt is...
This weightlifting belt from ProFitness is very budget-friendly but still strong enough to support you through some heavy workouts.
Constructed from genuine leather, this powerlifting-style belt is strong and flexible and should provide you with years of use.
- Heavy-duty double prong buckle
- Double-stitched and riveted for strength
- 5mm thick
- Four inches wide
- Lined with slip-resistant suede
- Available in four sizes
The main difference between this belt, and some of the more expensive models on review, is that the ProFitness belt is made from several layers of leather instead of one single layer.
That’s why more costly belts don’t have any prominent stitching.
But that doesn’t stop this belt from being a good performer.
It just won’t be as long-lasting.
- Flexible construction
- Will not require much breaking in
- Very well-priced
- Layers of leather could separate
- Not as hardwearing as a premium belt
If you want to train hard and heavy, but don’t want to spend a fortune on a single layer lifting belt, this is a good choice.
You’ll probably need to replace it in a couple of years, but until it starts to break down, a ProFitness leather weightlifting belt should provide you with a decent amount to support.
- 1 YEAR WARRANTY! We provide full guarantee for this single prong...
- ROUNDED EDGES FOR COMFORT. High Quality Top of the line 4" wide 10 mm...
- BUILT TO LAST LONG - Stiff, durable leather for great support; Heavy...
These powerlifting belts from Hawk Sports are a welcome surprise.
While they are admittedly made from stitched layers of leather, they are still international powerlifting federation approved, and come with a single prong or lever buckle as preferred, for less than $30!
At that price, you don’t need to choose between prongs or buckles; you can have both!
- Made from genuine leather
- Double-stitched edges
- Four inches wide
- 10mm thick
- Black lever or single pronged buckle options
- Available in three sizes
- Backed by a lifetime warranty
For the price, these belts from Hawk Sports are tough to beat.
Layered leather belts are never quite stiff or as hardwearing as those made from a single piece of leather, but for less than a quarter of the price, that’s a problem you might be happy to overlook.
And the lifetime warranty means you can buy with complete confidence.
- Heavy-duty buckles
- Powerlifting federation legal
- Very supportive
- Very low priced
- Only available in three sizes
- May not be big enough for heavyweight and super heavyweight lifters
These lifting belts from Hawk sports are very budget-friendly, and that’s because the manufacturers have cut a few corners to minimize their costs.
The leather may have a few natural blemishes (cow beauty spots!), and the buckles aren’t especially pretty.
Best Weightlifting Belts – Final Thoughts
A good weightlifting belt can increase your strength by as much as 10%.
But, to enjoy this kind of advantage, you need a strong, stiff, wide belt, preferably made from leather, and not a fitness belt made from nylon or neoprene.
Those sorts of belts are good for keeping your back warm but aren’t really strong enough to help you maximize intra-abdominal pressure.
A quality leather belt will last many years, if not your entire lifting career.
They aren’t the most comfortable things to wear, but that’s the price you have to pay for maximal support.
Not sure which belt is right for you?
Any of the five models listed above is an excellent place to start.
Now that you know why, when, and how to use a weightlifting belt, your next step is to focus on the best squat and deadlift technique.
First, use How to Do Squats Properly With Or Without Weights and How to Deadlift for Beginners – A Step by Step Guide to understand the basics.
Then, read the Proper Way to Do Squats; 26 Secrets for the Perfect Squat and 50 Essential Deadlift Tips and Tricks Every Beginner Should Know so you don’t make the same mistakes as me!
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