Whether or not to wear powerlifting belts have been a common question in weightlifting culture. There are many things that need to be considered before you buy a weightlifting belt. We’re going to go over everything you need to know about powerlifting belts as well as what you should be looking for. You’ll get to understand how to correctly use the belt so you know what you’re doing at the gym.
Who Should Wear a Powerlifting Belt?
First thing’s first, the only reason you will be needing a powerlifting belt is if you’re going to be either squatting or dead lifting the most weight you possibly can. However, there are times when it is actually not suitable for you to wear one of these belts. If your body movement is restricted with a weightlifting belt, then it’s best that you build your muscles up without it. Also, if you have any heart of health conditions that are worsened with high blood pressure, you are advised to not wear one. Those who have had hernias in the past especially shouldn’t wear a powerlifting belt either. If you are unsure, it’s always best to consult with your doctor beforehand.
What Does a Powerlifting Belt Do?
A powerlifting belt helps limit the expansion of your abdomen when you take in a deep breath. Surprisingly, the restriction the belt provides increases spinal stabilization by increasing the intra-abdominal pressure. With this increased stabilization, the legs and hips are able to contract harder. Your squat will be more stable and you’ll be able to lift heavier loads. The risk of injury is also supposedly lowered, though it is important to know there isn’t that much extensive research on the claim.
There is a common misconception that wearing a powerlifting belt might make your core weaker. This is actually not true because the muscles are still able to activate during exercise wearing one. The activation happens so deep within the core that a belt couldn’t really affect it. Because powerlifting belts are typically worn for squats and deadlifts, it’s not really worth worrying about if it will affect your core strength. This is simply because the exercises aren’t geared towards the core.
Powerlifting Belt Reviews
My trainers and I all use and recommend the use of powerlifting belts for anyone doing heavy compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, or cleans. Below you will find our top 5 favorites:
The velcro strap system isn’t only easy, but it provides your back with ample compression for great support and a wide range of adjust-ability. The material this belt is made out of is lightweight and ergonomic, making workouts comfortable to execute. Perform squats, dead lifts, and so much more with the help of this belt. Whether you are power lifting or doing Olympic lifting, this is one of the best belts to use to give your back the support it needs. Not only that, but do your weightlifting in style and feel confident!
The Good:Functionality is the most important thing about a weightlifting belt, and the Fire Team Fit Weightlifting Belt can do it all. Besides that, some of the pros about this belt include:
- A sleek, ergonomic design that is not only effective, but very stylish
- Made to suit both men and women when it comes to style and sizing
- Several color choices are a nice perk to suit any style and personality
- Very lightweight, it barely feels like it’s there!
- Provides back support for all kinds of workouts
The Bad:There are many things to love about this belt, but there may be a few downsides that you might want to know before choosing this to be your weightlifting belt. You should consider going a size down if you find yourself on the border of two sizes. This is because the belt happens to run a little small. Another thing is that the material is more fabric, so if you’re looking for a stiffer support belt, you might want to go with leather instead. Aside from that, we have very few complaints about this belt.
This weightlifting belt was made to be used for a variety of workouts, including dead lifts, squats, cleans, snatches, jerks, and (of course) traditional weightlifting. With a structure that features a “stiff” back, you can be sure this belt will provide you with a good amount of support and compression on your back. Unlike many other belts, the Bear KompleX is great at maintaining it’s support for your back and core over long periods of time.
The Good:It’s easy to see why so many people love this belt. Some of the best features about it include: Velcro secure system that offers complete flexibility and a strong hold Firm back for extra support that really lasts through your workout, as well as from workout session to workout session The design being made to be used for a variety of workouts, making it a universal gym accessory for many Many users of this belt praise it’s hefty construction and durability, making it a reliable go-to weightlifting belt for anyone
The Bad:Surprisingly, there really hasn’t been many negatives when it comes to the typical customer review on this belt. In fact, everyone seems to be extremely pleased with their Bear KompleX Weightlifting Belt. The only thing that may bother you is how stiff it is; but this should become less of a problem as it is used more. Keep in mind that the belt also runs a little small, so if you find yourself in between, then opt for the larger size.
- Made from REAL and reinforced leather
- Easy to put on, take off and adjust to size
- Great size for effortless storage and travel
- Lifetime replacement guarantee
The Bad:A negative implication of wearing a powerlifting belt is not well known but can be quite serious. Using these types of belts may inhibit motor learning in the abdominal muscles, making it difficult for you to lift without one over time. This isn’t always the case, but is something to be aware of. Another effect is that these belts may damage the lower back and cause injuries if not worn properly and if someone doesn’t know their own limits. Remember to meet with a trainer for a consultation before you go into wearing one of these belts for the first time.
The Verdict:This genuine leather pro weight lifting belt is built especially for both men and women. It has been carefully designed and keeps into consideration both body types and statures. Made from patented leather, the belt is extremely durable, premium reinforced and long lasting. You don’t have to worry about it wearing out like other belts made from fake leather, plastic or nylon.
Another great feature about this belt is the fact that despite being made of reinforced leather, this belt is extremely comfortable and surprisingly doesn’t feel bulky on your body. It always stays in place when in use, meaning it won’t dig into a person’s sides, ribs or hips. To make it all the more comfortable and to keep it secure, the belt comes with heavy duty metal buckles and adjustment holes for a great fitting.
The Genuine Leather Pro is super compact and lightweight, with only 1.5lbs weight, feels completely weightless and also doesn’t even take up much space. Bringing it along with you when you travel will never be a problem. Dark Iron Fitness (the belt provider) also ensures the quality of the belt and provides a guarantee that if the belt ever fails, they promise to send you another belt.
The Good:The best and the most obvious effect of weight lifting belts is that they ensure better performance. These belts provide a lot of support to a lifter’s back. It typically provides a better performance capability due to this enhanced support. Another benefit of these belts is that they are very useful for preventing injuries which may arise due to heavy lifting (muscle pulls, for example).
Some of the key features of the Valeo 6-inch VLP s:
- Comfortable foam core
- Waterproof to help resist sweat absorption while you work out
- Soft edges to prevent belt from digging uncomfortably
- Easy to hand wash and air-dry
- Super lightweight and portable
The Bad:Although there are marked benefits of using a weightlifting belt, there are also negative implications that can happen depending on the person who is wearing the belt. First and foremost, by wearing a belt can numb the feeling and circulation to your core, masking any potential injuries you can experience during any weightlifting exercise.
Wearing a weightlifting belt may also aggravate whatever minor injury your back or body may be suffering from. It is always suggested to consult with a doctor before wearing a weightlifting belt on a regular basis.
Here are some of the downsides of the Valeo 6-inch belt:
- The lack of velcro on the main belt makes it move while in use
- Sizing runs slightly small
The Verdict:The Valeo 6-inch VLP Performance Low Profile Belt is a stylish and different kind of weight lifting belt. The Valeo belt has a 6” wide foam core that is waterproof and a torque ring closure that makes it very flexible. Another great thing about this super affordable belt is that it is hand washable and can be easily air dried.
To make the belt comfortable for wearing, it has a brushed tricot lining and has soft and comfortable edges as well. You’ll never experience any discomfort when performing exercises with this on. The fact that this is a Velcro belt makes it extremely convenient to put on and take off. Made of comfortable and stretchable material, this is a great option for any lifter.
With 6 inches of width, this Harbinger brand belt offers great stability for your back as well as your core. Not only does it provide stabilizing compression, but it also is a great posture support. The genuine leather also does well in providing the necessary support your back needs to stay in good condition. Sizing is available from 23 inches, all the way up to 48 inches, meaning it can be used by people of many sizes. Both men and women, as well as adults and those who are younger, will be able to wear this belt.
The Good:The Harbinger Padded Leather Weightlifting Belt is favored by many for the most part. Some of the best things about the belt include:
- Being made of real, genuine leather that is durable
- A belt buckle made of steel for durability
- Padded suede interior for a luxurious and comfortable fit
- Wide, 6 inch back support
The Bad:With all great things, there are usually some downsides. While for most people this belt has been pretty reliable, there are many complaints regarding the belt being too thin and tearing easily. We didn't have this problem, but we also didn't get to test it over the long term.
Another thing is that the sizing tends to run small. So keep in mind that if you are on the larger end of the size you plan on getting, you may want to go a size up. Aside from that, we were genuinely pleased with this belt.
What to Look for When Buying a Powerlifting Belt
Powerlifting belts that are well made out of quality leather are highly suggested. Because it will last decades, a price tag of up to $100 Is well worth it, especially if you’re a serious bodybuilder, powerlifter or just a strength addict. You generally don’t want to invest in something you will need to replace in a matter of 2 years. Let’s take a look at the other things you should think about when buying a powerlifting belt.
1) Width and Thickness
A belt width of 10 cm is typically the max-width that a powerlifting belt can be worn between the ribs and hip-bone. If you aren’t familiar with the powerlifting federations, their maximum allowed width is 10 cm. It’s definitely better to go with less width if you find that 10 cm isn’t comfortable for you. Some people even like to have 2 different belts so that each one is dedicated for either dead lifting or squatting.
To determine the thickness your belt should be, you should make sure it stays in place while you exercise. Thicker belts can go up to 13mm, also the maximum thickness as determined by the powerlifting federations.
2) Secure Method
Powerlifting belts have two different securing mechanisms they normally come with: the single prong, the double prong or the lever. Usually, it is suggested that you getting something fairly easy to put on so your focus is more on your workout performance. This is why the double prong belt is advised against being used. On the other hand, the more expensive belts use a lever which is secured in a simple movement. While this is convenient, it is still suggested that the single prong may currently be the best choice.
It’s important that your weightlifting belt is made of super high quality leather. Top grain leather is most commonly used as the fibers are more durable. Like mentioned earlier, the better the leather, the longer the belt will last.
The fit has is one of the most important parts of buying a powerlifting belt. Your belt needs to be tight, while not being too tight, and it also needs to be correctly positioned. A trick is to put on the belt just tight enough so it stays in place, then squat, and wherever the belt ends up is where you should place it. dead lifting may require you to position the belt sightly higher, just so it doesn’t move around
It’s possible to put your belt on too tight, which is not good and your abs will have restricted movement. In fact, it would be better to have no belt at all than one that is too tight. You’re going to need to try out a few different belts in order to find that “perfect-fit” for you. A method of figuring out if a fit is too tight or not is if you can still take a full breath or not. You want to be able to inhale a good breath without lifting your shoulders when you are wearing your belt. Don’t worry though, it’s well worth your time and effort since this is an investment in your powerlifting hobby or career.
The Final Say
There are a ton of different lifting belts available on the market. When it all comes down to it, choosing the right powerlifting belt comes down to these considerations:
- How wide the belt is
- If it’s thickness is durable and if it is comfortable during use
- The secure mechanism is single prong or lever
- The leather is of high quality
- If the fit is right
As long as all of these different things are in your favor, you have chosen the right powerlifting belt. Whether it’s your first time or you’re looking to replace your old one, your new powerbelt should fit you great.