A lot of equipment seemed intimidating to me when I first signed up for a gym membership. Other gym-goers, though, seemed to head straight to these bulky machines and heavy weights!
As I got more and more interested in the world of weight lifting, I noticed that some heavy weight lifters that I work out with useful accessories such as a weightlifting belts. It seemed like such a gym essential with how many people had it on!
It seemed unnecessary at first; I could lift without using a belt. That was until I started hitting a plateau. I was struggling to carry heavier weights, but I still wanted to improve my performance. That’s when the weightlifting belt was suggested to me.
We generally take a big breath in the belly before lifting heavy weights, hold it while lifting, then exhale after. This is called the Valsalva Maneuver. After a bit of research, I found out that this maneuver creates pressure in your abdomen called intra-abdominal pressure.
This pressure helps support your spine. Studies show that wearing weightlifting belts increases this pressure by pushing against your abs when you take that deep breath. Weightlifting belts might help me to break through my own weight plateau. So, in my long search for the best weightlifting belts out there, I have curated a list to help you decide for yourself.
Best Weightlifting Belts Compared and Reviewed
|Element 26 Self-Locking Weightlifting Belt
|Check Price on Amazon
|Suede Leather Powerlifting Belt by Iron Bull Strength
|Iron Bull Strength
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|RitFit Weightlifting Belt
|Check Price on Amazon
|Valeo 4-Inch VLP Performance Low Profile Belt
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|Dark Iron Fitness Genuine Leather Weightlifting Belt
|Dark Iron Fitness
|Check Price on Amazon
#1 - Element 26 Self-Locking Weightlifting Belt
Element 26 aims to create functional gear that will lessen injuries and increase the effectiveness of your workouts. It is founded by a Doctor of Physical Therapy and US Army Veteran, so don’t doubt that their products are made from experience.
This weightlifting belt prides itself on its self-locking technology that is unlike others that use a cheap velcro belt. You don’t have to worry about it slipping off while you get those gains, no matter how heavy! Once you pull the release roller, it removes itself immediately.
It is made from 100% Premium Nylon. This makes the belt more flexible and great for you CrossFitters out there. But for powerlifters, this also means that the belt is less stiff.
The back support you receive from this belt will be looser compared to other rigid belts. If you want to really feel that belt around your waist as you go heavier with your weights, then maybe you would want to consider other belts.
I’m sure you want to know if this has the best design for your weight lifting goals. You also want to make sure this belt can keep up with different kinds of workouts. Well, this is designed by a Doctor of Physical Therapy, so you can breathe that sigh of relief and do your workouts confidently!
Sometimes, they say the more contours, the less effective the belt becomes, so this belt has no extra paddings or mesh coverings. It is simple but effective, especially in distributing that intra-abdominal pressure you need to lift heavier weights. It is 4 inches all around the belt, which they claim makes the pressure distribution even all throughout.
It can even be used in competitions for those hardcore weight lifters out there. You can use it in competitions such as those of USA Weightlifting and Functional Fitness which makes it one of the best weightlifting belts on our list.
#2 - Suede Leather Powerlifting Belt by Iron Bull Strength
Iron Bull Strength manufactures bodybuilding accessories and strength equipment that are designed with comfort and performance in mind. They are located in Quebec, Canada, and are all about the quality of their products. Even with this goal of high quality, they still want to give you the lowest possible prices.
If you are looking for a stylish belt to use while showing off your gains, then this belt is for you. The suede leather looks sleek and expertly made. It also boasts a variety of colors for you to choose from.
This leather weightlifting belt isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, though. Iron Bull Strength argues that the 10mm thick leather belt is the optimal thickness to give athletes maximum support, but also balanced out with the right amount of flexibility.
It also claims to follow your body shape as you continue to use it. As you do squats, overhead presses, or deadlifts, you definitely want a belt that supports your abdomen snugly. Imagine doing strength exercises and having your belt fall off! The lumbar support that it brings will help you feel more confident in powerlifting heavier weights.
However, the rigidity of a leather belt still constricts you from doing certain movements. This is because leather belts are mainly stiffer than a nylon belt. If you do CrossFit, then you might not be too keen on buying this.
The securing mechanism of this belt is using adjustable double-prong roller buckles. It is custom zinc-plated steel which makes for a polished and sleek look. While the aesthetics are pleasing, fitting it onto your body may be a problem as it has provided holes for you to use, which may result in being either too loose or too tight.
It is 4 inches in height all throughout the belt, so if you’re concerned about evenly distributing the intra-abdominal pressure, worry not! The uniformity of this belt has you covered. It evenly stabilizes your abdomen and your lower back.
#3 - RitFit Weightlifting Belt
Up next on this list is the RitFit Weight Lfting Belt. It is another highly rated product which a lot of users rave about. Do not be fooled by its simplistic design as this belt is a contender in terms of durability and performance.
While not made from leather, the advantage of having soft bound edges is that the material is gentler on your skin. I like that on the inside this belt is made with waterproof foam, so sweat or any kind of liquid shouldn’t be a problem when it’s time to clean it up.
Another thing is that its materials provide maximum comfort while providing adequate support for you during your strength training. The product also makes sure that your back is safe since it has a unique feature that minimizes the occurrence of spinal flexion.
The RitFit Weight Lifting Belt is optimal whenever you do squats, deadlifts, lunges and thrusters. It’s also very capable in providing support for a wide range of back and shoulder exercises. It comes in different sizes to accommodate a wide range of users. The product only comes in a lot of colors, so choose which one you prefer.
It’s worth mentioning that Ritfit provides a lifetime warranty. Which tells you that if you’re getting this product, you might just stick with it for the long run.
#4 - Valeo 4-Inch VLP Performance Low Profile Belt
The Valeo 4-Inch performance belt contains a waterproof memory foam core which assists with both support, and dealing with your perspiration throughout the gym set (That would be your sweating).
This weighting belt is great for back support as it helps stabilize it which can help prevent you against injuries.
The Valeo belts have a both 4-inch and 6-inch option, whilst the 6-inch will give more support, it will limit your flexibility. The 4-inch is a great option if you’re looking for less restriction and more flexibility. If you are really opting for the support, the 6-inch may be a more suitable choice for you from the Valeo range.
The abdomen and low back support from this belt makes it ideal for deadlifts and squats. the medium size belt is advertised at 30-36 inces, but some have gone as far as 38 inches when fastening it. If you’re looking for a bigger size, they have even the XX-Large belt which caters for up to 52-59 inches.
Some users have reported that the belt slides up the body during use however, it seems this comes down to individual people.
#5 - Dark Iron Fitness Genuine Leather Weightlifting Belt
Think others are going to do the work for you? Dark Iron Fitness says otherwise. They believe that your fitness goals are your own responsibility, and you deserve products that are dependable as you work on yourself.
This belt definitely is one of those belts that make you look like a champion. Its red and black design with genuine, reinforced leather is constructed to last you a lifetime.
The reinforced stitches where the leather is stitched over a couple of times will give you the extra durability you won’t find otherwise. Don’t even think about the wear and tear that most fake leathers have; Dark Iron Fitness has it figured out for you.
Sometimes, working out with a belt feels less helpful and more of a hassle on your abdomen if you don’t have the right belt. This belt, though, does the job and makes sure it doesn’t dig into your skin. In fact, for extra comfort and extra support, they included some padding so it fits snugly and adjusts to your body shape.
Yeah, it’s comfortable and sits on your skin well, but will it stay intact while you move? The heavy-duty metal buckle that comes with it answers your question. It will stay on you as you go heavier and heavier with the weights.
It even comes with extra adjustment holes so that you can fit the belt however tightly you want it to be. A little bonus for those who get really intense with their weight lifting: it comes with 40-inch heavy-duty weight straps to help you lift up to 270 pounds.
Leather will always be a great choice if you’re looking for an extremely durable material to accompany your workouts. They can handle greater resistances and pressure. Dark Iron Fitness will help you feel more responsible for your own achievements by giving you some of the best materials to work with. No excuses, huh?
All in all, this feels like an elevated version of your normal leather weightlifting belt as it aims to provide you with comfort and rigidity all in one. Still, with rigidity comes its downsides. You know the drill: CrossFitters or functional fitness athletes might want to look at other belts, specifically those made of nylon.
My Number One Pick
Considerations Before Buying A Weightlifting Belt
When looking into purchasing your first weightlifting belt for your gym or fitness needs you should make sure it’s the right choice for you. As with any other purchase, there are key nuances to consider.
You’ll need to ask yourself the question of if you need a flexible belt to do functional training or if you need a more sturdy one for powerlifting? The below guide will hopefully set you in the right direction.
One of the things to consider is, of course, the material of the belt. Although both leather and nylon aim to support you the best way it can, they provide that support in different ways.
- Leather –
Leather belts are thicker and more rigid than nylon belts. The stitching is also generally more durable. If you are a powerlifter, you might be more attracted to this rigidity as it provides more stability and tightness around the torso. This is especially true for those who tend to lift heavier weights. If you are a competitor, I’m sure you see that leather belts are usually used because they comply with the guidelines of powerlifting organizations.
- Nylon –
Nylon belts are thinner and more flexible. If you are more casual in your weightlifting but want to improve your performance, you might be drawn to nylon belts. CrossFitters and functional fitness athletes out there might also want to consider this, as nylon provides mobility that enables you to do different movements.
The design of a belt is similar to the material of a belt: the different designs have their own ways of being effective. You have to customize this to your needs as well.
- Cylinder –
Most of the belts I have listed above have a cylinder design. This is where a belt has a uniform height all throughout. They are designed to uniformly distribute the pressure around your abdomen and lower back so that you are stabilized all around. Powerlifters seem to like this type of design more, as it is typically more rigid.
- Tapered –
This design is wide at your lower back and thinner on your abdomen. This helps provide some flexibility with your movements but still having some support. Recreational athletes and Olympic lifters tend to go for this design.
- Cone Belt –
This design is thinner on the sides and wider at the back and on your abdomen. This is not as common but is said to follow the natural shape of your torso.
This is very similar to choosing a material, as the way the weightlifting belt is constructed and manufactured plays a big role in how long it is going to help you with your fitness goals. For example, using genuine reinforced leather, which has multiple stitches, will give you a longer-lasting weight lifting belt compared to using fake leather or even some nylon materials.
Using something cheap such as a velcro belt will mean that you will be heading back to the shop sooner rather than later, and also hopefully injury free as these types of belts tend to rip very easily.
Some athletes prefer more flexible belts. Other athletes like the rigidity that other belts possess because it feels more secure to them. Whether you are one or the other, there is sure to be a belt for you.
This all comes down to what kind of workout you do. For example, if you are more of a functional fitness athlete, you might want to consider flexible belts to widen your range and variety of movement. Flexible belts usually are made of nylon or leather with some padding on it.
If, on the other hand, you would like to feel supported while lifting heavier weights, you might like a tighter fit. Powerlifters, for example, would lean towards those belts that are more rigid. Of course, more rigid belts are usually made of leather as it is a more durable material.
Some belts provide more options than others in terms of how tightly it hugs your abdomen. This comes down to preference. Would you like to be able to customize how tight your belt is? Or are you okay with having predetermined holes for you?
If you would like to have those micro-adjustments while doing certain workouts, and you would like to do it quickly, nylon weightlifting belts usually have that option for you! Leather belts, on the other hand, usually have predetermined holes for you to put in the double prong buckle, giving you less customization.
Not all belts are made equally, and you can definitely feel that as soon as you put some of them on. Some belts, as mentioned earlier, are more rigid and give you less mobility or range of movement. Other belts are more flexible and will help you do more types of workouts.
Rigid belts are seen usually in belts made of leather because they are sturdier and more durable. Some people might say that these belts dig into your skin, which you don’t really want during a workout. Nylon belts are softer and more flexible and usually hugs your torso just right.
Be careful not to prioritize this too much, though, as this might give you a flimsy belt with less support than you actually need. What is comfort when you feel nothing around your abdomen? Still, it is an important factor for an efficient workout.
One of the key factors to making a good weight lifting belt is providing support. After all, this is what you came for when you started looking for the perfect weightlifting belt for you. Other factors are just bonuses.
Of course, different workouts require different types of support. We can say that leather definitely provides the most support when you are powerlifting. Its rigidity will provide you the confidence to go heavier and heavier.
Leather belts aren’t the best at supporting functional fitness movements though. Although it seems more sturdy on the outside, nylon belts actually are more functional if you do CrossFit.
Frequently Asked Questions for Weightlifting Belts
Q: Can I use a weightlifting belt as a beginner?
A: In general, beginners must first focus on form before moving on to heavier weights. weightlifting belts are generally used to help you move past a plateau or help you get more comfortable with heavier weights. If you are looking to improve your form, a belt can help, but it won’t give you that.
Q: What are some health considerations that I have to think about before purchasing a weightlifting belt?
A: If you have had a hernia or have high blood pressure, you must avoid using a belt as this may exacerbate these issues. Always check with your doctor.
Q: Is a weightlifting belt necessary?
A: It depends on the kind of workout you do. If you do movements that don’t put much pressure on your spine as you do with squats and deadlifts, then you might not need a weightlifting belt.
As said earlier, if you don’t have a good form already, then you might want to work on that first. You might also want to strengthen your core first by lifting heavier without the belt. Wearing a belt too early might cause your core muscles to be weaker.
Different types of belts are made for different types of athletes. Whether you are a recreational lifter or a competitor, there is a weightlifting belt out there for you. Before purchasing, make sure this is a purchase that is fit for your fitness level. Are you still learning the right form? Do you just need a little boost to get past your plateau?
If you have decided that a weightlifting belt would help you reach your fitness goals, you should then do your research regarding the quality of material that a product has. You should also remember to take into consideration the type of workouts you do. Decide if you desire flexibility or rigidity.
If you are starting to lift heavy weights and are aiming to increase your performance, a weightlifting belt may be for you. This is also helpful for breaking through a plateau. If you do squats or deadlifts, this may also help you carry heavier weights. Same as wearing workout gloves or shoes designed for the gym can prevent injury, a belt can do the same.
This doesn’t automatically make you a better lifter, though. You must have good form and technique before purchasing this. You must also check with your doctor if you have any health problems that may be worsened by increased intra-abdominal pressure, such as high blood pressure.
A weightlifting belt is your friend that pushes you to reach your highest potential. That only happens, though, if you choose one that is fit for the way you work out. Your preferences will ultimately help you pick the best belt for you. Now, go get those gains with your new and badass belt.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is through constantly challenging yourself.