Best Powerlifting Belts

Best Powerlifting Belts: What They Do and How to Choose the Perfect One

Do you feel like you are limited by your own body when it comes to lifting heavier weights?

No joke about it, powerlifting is a hardcore sport and it requires not only raw strength and an inhumane burst of power. However, successfully lifting ungodly weights is not solely dependent on the strength of the lifter’s arms. You have to consider your grip, your knees, and even your back.

It is no wonder that serious powerlifters have a lot of equipment at their disposal to support key areas when moving loads that are easily twice their own body weight. A grip strengthener can train your grip and lifting straps can give your grip some support. Knee wraps help support your knees by reinforcing the quadriceps and patellar tendons.

What about the back? What can keep your spine from folding over like a slinky when lifting?

A powerlifting belt can help you with your problem and not just any other powerlifting belt will do. You have to choose the best powerlifting belt for your needs or you will not only end with subpar performance, you might even injure yourself.

But with a lot of belts available, just how do you choose the best powerlifting belt?

Roundup of the Best Powerlifting Belts

1. Steel Sweat Weight Lifting Belt

This powerlifting belt from Steel Sweat is made of 100% real, vegetable tanned leather crafted using the all-natural method for tanning hides used by cowboys. Unlike modern sole tanning, this process can take weeks to finish.

The only available color is the natural brown produced by the tanning process but it can vary from belt to belt.

The fastening mechanism makes use of a stainless steel, single-prong buckle, which is easier to adjust than a double-prong mechanism and less likely to break compared to lever-type buckles.

For those who are planning to purchase a belt for use in competitions, this powerlifting belt is IPF compliant with a width of 4 inches and a thickness of 10 millimeters.

A sizing guide is available online so you can estimate what size to get.

Pros
  • Sturdy, well-made leather belt
  • Water-resistant
  • Single-prong mechanism is easier to adjust and more durable
  • Uniform width throughout the belt
  • Fits as expected
Cons
  • May dig into ribs and hips
  • Leather material takes some time to break in
  • Tends to slip, especially with sweat
2. Stoic Powerlifting Belt

The Stoic Powerlifting Belt aims to live up to its name using quality materials in the making of its products. This belt is made of vegetable tanned, full grain sole leather with strong nylon stitching. It has a suede exterior to increase longevity and support. As a testament to the quality of the leather, the manufacturers have opted to leave this powerlifting belt raw and undyed.

This powerlifting belt is compliant with IPF standards with a width of 4 inches and thickness of 10 millimeters - the suede exterior is only 1.2 millimeters tops. Other federations that approve of this belt include:

  • check
    United States Powerlifting Association (USPA )
  • check
    International Powerlifting League (IPL)
  • check
    Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)
  • check
    USA Powerlifting (USAPL) for state and local meets

The fastening mechanism consists of a single-prong buckle with a seamless roller.


Pros
  • Sturdy leather with strong nylon stitching
  • Complies to the standard of major powerlifting competitions
  • Single-prong buckle for fastening
  • Uniform width throughout the belt
Cons
  • Has to be broken in as it is very stiff at first, especially with the suede finish
  • Sizes run small
  • Buckle might pinch the skin
3. iWOTER Weightlifting Belt

A leather powerlifting belt, although very sturdy and durable, can be too much for beginners or other people. They also tend to be more expensive than belts made of other materials.

For a budget-friendly belt that does not require a lot of breaking in, a powerlifting belt made of Velcro would make a good choice.

The main belt of this powerlifting belt from iWoter is made of EVA with a thickened nylon strap and a widened Velcro closure to fasten the belt. The metal buckle uses an S/S pipe.

There are no mentions of the actual dimensions of this belt or if it is compliant with IPF standards and I would recommend against using it in competitions for this very reason.


Pros
  • Cheaper and cost-effective
  • Breathable and comfortable materials
  • Do not require breaking in
  • Thick and provides good support for the back
  • Contours to the body and does not interfere with mobility
  • Uniform width throughout the whole belt
Cons
  • Not exactly approved for competitions
4. Inzer Advance Designs Forever Lever Belt

Last update on 2018-04-21 at 16:01 PST  / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API - Details

If you are a serious weightlifter or powerlifter, then you might have heard of the belts the guys over at Inzer produce.

This powerlifting belt is made of one solid piece of leather, which makes it sturdier than other leather belts made of thinner pieces of leather stitched together. The stitching itself is very well done without signs of unraveling.

Leather belts can be very uncomfortable, especially when they are yet to be broken in, and tend to slip and move when wet. The Forever Lever Belt softens this with a non-slip suede so it is more comfortable and less likely to move around during lifts. This suede covering comes in different colors but other than black, these other colors will take longer to process.

The fastening mechanism is a lever, which is quite heavy and appears to be really durable and well-made. The holes for the rivets are also drilled cleanly through the leather without signs of fraying.


Pros
  • Great support
  • Uniform width throughout the belt
  • Compliant with IPF standards
  • Quality materials
  • Well-made
  • Lever-type fastening mechanism makes it easy to put on and take off
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Belt can be very stiff at first and needs to be broken in
  • Takes longer to ship, especially with belts of different colors
  • Lever-type mechanism is harder to adjust
  • Lever-type mechanism can break and is less durable than prong-type buckles
5. Bear KompleX Weightlifting Belt

Last update on 2018-04-21 at 16:01 PST  / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API - Details

Serious powerlifters usually prefer to go after the stiffer leather powerlifting belts but for those that would require more mobility such as Olympic weightlifters and CrossFit enthusiasts, leather can be a bit restrictive and tends to limit movements.

For these weightlifters, a Velcro belt can provide great support without hampering mobility for the snatch and clean and jerk.

The Bear KompleX Weightlifting Belt is a Velcro weightlifting belt but has a uniform width of 4 inches throughout the entire length of the belt. It utilizes a steel roller buckle that is light and easy to adjust, put on and take off.

It is initially stiff and provides good support for the back.


Pros
  • Uniform width throughout the belt
  • Easy to adjust, take off, and put on
  • Provides great support
  • Does not take much breaking in to be more comfortable
  • Does not interfere with mobility
Cons
  • Not recommended for serious powerlifters or use in powerlifting competitions
  • Velcro tends to fray and fall apart sooner than leather or suede

Using a Powerlifting Belt

Best Powerlifting Belts

You can easily tell the rookies from the pros by the way they make use of their gym equipment—the pros use them based on their specific functions and the rookies…well, they mostly put them on for show or misuse them altogether.

A powerlifting belt is a very useful device provided you use it for its proper function. If all you know about it is that it protects the spine, then you are partly correct but the powerlifting belt is more than that.

How a Powerlifting Belt Provides Spinal Support

Best Powerlifting Belts

Powerlifting belts do support your spine but it is important that you understand how it does. You do not go about wearing your belt every single time you go to the gym and even when you’re lifting. Again, only rookies do that and you’re not one of them.

When you brace yourself to lift heavy weights, you breathe in deep and hold it in with a closed glottis as you exert the force needed to move the weight. This is called the Valsalva maneuver and believe it or not, you do this consciously or subconsciously in your daily activities.

During the Valsalva maneuver, you increase the pressure in your abdomen so that it cushions the spine and prevents it from folding over like a slinky as you push against the weight. Normally, your body can do all the spinal support on its own with the Valsalva maneuver alone but what about those who are lifting weights at maximum capacity?

This is when the powerlifting belt becomes useful. Having a belt around your abdomen as you exert the force needed to push at the weight will increase the pressure from the front by making a wall for your abs to push against, further cushioning the spine to prevent flexion.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the powerlifting belt works. It does not support your spine directly but it supports your abs as it increases abdominal pressure during the Valsalva maneuver, thereby supporting your spine also.

How to Choose a Powerlifting Belt

Ready to lift some out-of-this-world weights? If so, then you need a good powerlifting belt not only to increase your performance but to help protect your spine as mentioned previously.

Before you go snatching off any fancy belt you find off the shelf, you need to assess the best powerlifting belt to match your needs. Rookies and pros, remember?

1. Use
Best Powerlifting Belts

There is a difference between powerlifting and weightlifting so it follows that there are also some differences between powerlifting belts and weightlifting belts. Powerlifting is more concerned with lifting the greatest maximum weight possible while weightlifting uses the snatch and clean and jerk.

The powerlifting belt has the same width all throughout the length of the belt while the weightlifting belt has a wider back brace that tapers dramatically beyond it so it will not interfere with the movements required while performing the snatch and clean and jerk. Also, the powerlifting belt is generally stiffer than the weightlifting belt, which tends to be softer.

If you require more mobility in your weightlifting or CrossFit routine, it would be advisable to go with the weightlifting belt. However, if you are more into deadlifts and squats, the powerlifting belt could be your new best friend.

2. Thickness
Best Powerlifting Belts

The thickness of powerlifting belts are usually within the 10 to 13 millimeter range. Some belts even come with padding for the back but it’s not really necessary. As we have discussed previously, the function of the belt is to provide a wall for the abdomen to push against during the Valsalva maneuver so it can cushion the spine and prevent flexion as you push against the weight.

A thicker belt is generally stiffer and more durable. These belts can also be a bit more uncomfortable than those around 10 millimeters thick. For newbies, this is highly unnecessary. You are better off starting with a softer belt and work your way up as you increase your maximum weight. Even most of the pros pretty much lift with just a 10-millimeter belt.

If you think you can take on a thicker belt, you can also borrow and try it on before getting one of your own. You will know if it’s too thick for you because you will notice that it will be a bit harder to get into the proper lifting positions.

However, for the sake of those who are planning to enter into an IPF powerlifting competition, you should know that they do not allow belts with a thickness beyond 10 millimeters.

3. Width
Best Powerlifting Belts

Most powerlifting belts come in widths of 2.5 inches, 3 inches, and 4 inches. The maximum allowable width in most competitions is 10 centimeters or around 4 inches.

Theoretically, it is better to go with a wider belt as this will give you enough “wall” for your abs and core to push again when you breathe in and lift. However, for more petite frames and those with a smaller gap between the ribs and the hips, a powerlifting belt that is 4 inches wide can be very uncomfortable.

As much as possible, go for the 4-inch wide powerlifting belts but if this proves to be uncomfortable - especially with thicker and stiffer materials - then you might want to choose something less wide. Remember that a powerlifting belt is supposed to support you during your weightlifting routine and not limit you with discomfort and pain.

4. Materials
Best Powerlifting Belts

Powerlifting belts are usually made either of Velcro, suede, or leather - in increasing order of stiffness. The choice depends more on your personal preference than anything.

Leather

Leather belts tend to be stiffer and more durable. They can be a bit uncomfortable at first and would need some time to be broken in but they generally last longer than belts made of other materials especially if they are made exceptionally well. However, they have the tendency to become slippery especially when you start to sweat.

Suede

Belts made of suede are more likely to stay in place and will not shift around as much as powerlifting belts made of leather. They are also softer and much more comfortable to wear than their leather counterparts. Most beginners might want to start with a suede powerlifting belt for these reasons.

Velcro

Although both leather and suede have their own good qualities, those who prefer to have more mobility or want to go into Olympic weightlifting or CrossFit might want to try a powerlifting belt made of Velcro instead. However, most pros think Velcro belts deliver less support but wear them underneath leather or suede belts instead.

Fastening Mechanism

Best Powerlifting Belts

Powerlifting belts are usually fastened by means of a single prong, double prong, or lever mechanism but the general consensus is that double prongs are the devil to get on and off and really do not offer much advantage over the single-prong mechanisms. It really just adds another step to securing your belt on the second prong when you should be focusing on lifting instead.

Single-prong mechanisms are easier to adjust than both the lever types and its cousin, the double-prong mechanism. Compared to the lever powerlifting belts, they are also less expensive. The mechanism is fairly straightforward and is just like most ordinary belts. If you want it looser for warmups and tighter for the heavier weights, adjusting your belt is easier with a single prong.

Lever-type belts are more expensive than pronged powerlifting belts and are easier to get on and off. You simply flip the lever mechanism and the belt is released and comes off. Slip it on with the prongs properly positioned and flick the lever to secure the belt back on. Easy-peasy.

The caveat is that you will have to bust out a screwdriver if you want to adjust the size of your belt, which is not the case with prong mechanisms where you can simply slip the prong into a hole to make a larger or smaller belt.

The parts of the lever mechanism, although constructed well, may also break, which is why lever-type powerlifting belts often come with long warranties and offer replacement parts. However, if you do not plan to adjust the size of your belt anytime soon, the lever type is hands down the easiest to put on and off.

Conclusion

Powerlifting belts are very useful equipment. They not only enhance your performance by allowing you to lift heavier weights, their most important function is the indirect support they give your spine by providing a brace for your abs to push through while lifting, thereby cushioning your spine.

For this purpose, the Steel Sweat Weight Lifting Belt is one of the best investments in your powerlifting journey. The stiff leather gives your abs a solid wall to brace against as you breathe in, effectively cushioning your spine and preventing it from folding over like a slinky.

Last update on 2018-03-11 at 15:33 PST  / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API - Details

If you wish to adjust the size to go tighter for heavier lifts, its single-prong buckle can give you that easily. Unlike lever-type buckles where you have to bust out a screwdriver just to adjust your belt, a single-prong buckle can be adjusted simply by slipping it into a tighter or looser hole.

Perhaps the best thing about this belt, aside from the quality of the materials and the fine craftsmanship that went into it, is that these are the perfect dimensions in compliance with IPF standards. The belt is 4 inches wide all throughout with a thickness of 10 millimeters. If you plan on entering powerlifting competitions in the future, you do not have to worry about getting disqualified with this baby.

Do you use a powerlifting belt when lifting? Are there any other brands or materials you prefer? Do you have a suggestion for our roundup of the best powerlifting belts? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to share this article with your family and friends.

5 (100%) 1 vote

About the Author Mike R.Bowen

I am Mike R.Bowen, founder of Fitness On The Weekend dot Com and my aim is to help busy people find time for fitness. We will give you actionable advice on how you can keep fit and healthy even on those busy days!

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: