Best Weight Lifting Belts For Men and Women - Custom or Not?
Most male and female lifters wonder about how to choose a perfect weight lifting belt.
Choosing the best weight lifting belts is just like choosing a pair of running shoes; users should have an idea of what they need and be prepared to try different ones to check comfort, fit, and functionality. There are a lot of variables to think about when buying the first belt.
Published: March 20, 2021.
High-quality weight lifting belts are not cheap. In other words, it’s not a small investment. The brighter side of this is that if a user chooses the belt well and takes good care of it, it will last for ages.
Initially, choosing a weight lifting belt may seem daunting. But the sort of lifting exercises the athlete usually does and also to some extent, the gender of the user, can help narrow the choices, e.g. whether to buy an Olympic lifting belt, women’s weight lifting belt, powerlifting belt, or bodybuilding belt. The rest depends just on users’ personal choices.
Powerlifting Belt or Weightlifting Belt – Which One is the Best?
There are two main types of weightlifting belts – powerlifting belts and weightlifting belts.
In general, powerlifting belts are for users who often lift heavy in deadlifts and squats, also known as powerlifting movements, whereas weightlifting belts are good for users who do Olympic lifting (clean and jerks and snatches), bodybuilding and CrossFit. Choosing a belt that suits a user’s workout style is the fastest way to trim down their choices.
The most visible difference between these two types of belts is their width. The width of a powerlifting belt is usually around 4 inches and is consistent all around, whereas a weightlifting belt is typically between 4 and 6 inches wide at the back support part and tapers off in the front. There may be extra padding at the back of certain weightlifting belts, but it is more comfortable for the user to wear it.
The different widths of these two types of belts are purposeful design options. For powerlifting, users don’t want a larger surface area in the front of their abs to “push against” while breathing into their stomachs. When they do, they form higher intra-abdominal pressure to safeguard their spine under that heavy loads. Conversely, if the belt is too wide in the front, it might interfere with the powerlifting movements.
A Thicker Belt Need Not Always be Better
Besides various widths, lifting belts thickness varies from, for example, 7mm to 13mm sometimes even more. Thickness offers that stiffness required to save the trainee’s spine from bending. The thicker the belt, the stiffer and more durable will it be.
First-time belt shoppers can really get confused – a thicker belt does provide sturdier support; however, it can actually be very uncomfortable for most lifters. It’s often set aside for people who wish to lift larger weights. The majority of lifters, even the really strong ones, usually lift with a 10mm belt. If users are not convinced, they may give a 13 mm belt a try. They may experience that it’s too thick just because they will probably have a difficult time achieving proper lifting positions until the belt is broken in.
As a matter of fact, if a lifter plans to enter a powerlifting tournament, their belt should be no wider than 4 inches and no thicker than 13mm as per the rules and regulations.
What are Weightlifting Belts Made of?
While there are many variations in the weightlifting belts, the base materials out of which the belts are made are two: nylon and leather. There are multiple combinations of materials, such as cloth variations, rubber, and foam inserts, but after all, the base typically happens to be either nylon or leather.
While a seasoned lifter may not be interested in the information about the belt materials, a lifter that has newly started training should have this knowledge so as to understand what each of them has to offer.
Nylon belts have stainless steel buckles; however, they are only on the fastening section. The strap that fastens the belt is made of pure nylon or a fabric combination and can be adjusted to fit the torso as tight as required.
This type of belt can usually be pulled a bit tighter since it has more material to work on and has no pre-made holes. Moreover, some nylon belts are more rigid than others; hence the width of the belt and strap should be taken into consideration.
Construction of Nylon Belts: Nylon belts offer flexibility and they are clearly thinner than leather belts. They have various stitching patterns which usually depend on the belt style.
Who Uses Nylon Belts: Nylon belts are versatile and typically benefit CrossFit, recreational lifters, and functional fitness athletes. They offer support but also provide maneuverability through a range of movements. Because of this quality, these are the best belts for beginners who may be new to using as well as bracing into a belt.
There are three different options in leather belts: single-prong, double-prong (a few triple-pronged too do exist), and levers. There are pre-made holes on the belt’s end, just as they are on regular bets. Prongs/buckles and levers are made from metal, typically stainless steel to offer durability.
Single-, double- and triple-pronged, and lever buckles are all designed to be strong and prevent any type of bending during the highest movements. Lever buckles, unlike prongs, are of a pre-fixed nature; therefore, users have to custom the belt to their torso/requirements to get the perfect fit.
Construction of Leather Belts: A leather belt is typically thicker than a nylon belt and also offers higher rigidity to the torso. It is generally built with multiple layers of finished leather and finished with single or double stitching. The thickness of leather and stitching can play an important role in the stability and durability of a weightlifting belt.
Who Uses Leather Belts: Usually, though not always, weightlifters (tapered leather belts), powerlifters, and strongman competitors opt for leather belts. Leather belts offer more stability to the torso, hence lifters performing the highest lifts often will benefit from this type of belt.
Another factor that plays an important role in making the athletes’ decisions is competition-approved belts. Powerlifting organizations have their own sets of approved equipment, but in general, a competition belt can’t be thicker than 13mm.
Women's Weight Lifting Belts
Unfortunately, it was challenging for women for decades to perform weightlifting having to use men’s belts that were typically bulky or big. Fortunately, today the weightlifting market could bring weightlifting belts specially designed for women with a range of colors and styles.
The fact is that there should not ideally be a difference between men’s and women’s weightlifting belts because ultimately they serve the same purpose, i.e. creating pressure inside the abdominal area of the torso so as to improve the support and stability for the back. However, a few differences do exist between the belts designed for the two genders and they are sizing flexibility, and comfort level.
Here are some points women should consider while choosing their own best lifting belt.
Type: There are 3 kinds of women’s weightlifting belts: single-prong, double-prong, and lever. These types determine how the user will secure the belt while wearing it. Typically the single-prong belts are the most adjustable and suit most situations.
Material: The best quality weightlifting belts are made of sturdy leather, as this is the most durable and longest-lasting material for weightlifting belts. Today some brands have also introduced belts made of high-quality cotton to offer the highest comfort by preventing the belt from digging into the user’s skin.
Comfort: Any belt will be stiff when the user first buys it. However, a perfect fit is the most important factor to look for. The belt should be snug and comfortable.
Width and Thickness: The width of the belt should ideally be the same all the way around. Typically thickness of belts is between 10 mm and 13 mm. This will offer the best comfort and support.
Men's Weight Lifting Belts
Since men have been performing weightlifting for a long time, weightlifting accessories are designed mainly for them and weightlifting belts are no exception. Still, all belts are not created equal and users should look for the one that will provide them the best support for abdomen and back because that will make all the difference to their form, posture, and routine. Men who do compound exercises like power cleans, deadlifts, squats, and others, should choose their weightlifting belts carefully.
A weightlifting belt should ideally be used to reduce the load on the lifter’s lower back while doing heavy exercises. When lifters push their abs against the powerlifting belt during heavy lifts, they can increase the stability of their lower back, because this way the intra-abdominal pressure is increased and makes sure the user’s core can take a part of the pressure put on their back. Thus the lifter can lift more weight and with increased safety. Here are a few things users should consider.
Leather or Nylon: Though nylon belts with Velcro look appealing, keep users’ back warm and provide support to an extent, they can be useful only if users’ back is still and while performing lifts that a leather belt might interfere with (e.g. Olympic lifts). However, leather makes the best lifting belts. Leather belts are available in split leather, most commonly as suede, or top grain leather.
The top of the hide of an animal is called top grain leather. It’s highly durable, whereas suede is less durable and not even near strong. Therefore top grain leather is the best buy.
Single-prong or Double-prong: A double-prong belt is often unnecessary and irritating to use. The idea behind the additional prong is to distribute the stress evenly thereby lessening its chances to failure. But it can be a pain to wear and remove. In short, the single-prong belt is always better.
Single-prong or Lever: And as compared to single-prong lifting belts, lever bets are remarkably quicker and easier to use. Once the user has the lever attached to the right hole on the belt, it’s done. After finishing the lift, the user can just open the lever and take the belt off. Especially while lifting heavy, this is an excellent choice.
However, there may be a catch! If the user wants to move the lever to a looser/tighter set up, they will have to struggle with the screwdriver. Moreover, the material of a lot of lever belts is inferior and may break, maybe even during the lift. Therefore, users can choose to spend a little more and choose a stainless steel lever belt. However, it depends ultimately on the users’ choice as, if they prefer reliability and adjustability they can choose a single-prong lifting belt and if they want an easy on/off, they can choose a lever belt.
Thickness: The thickness to be chosen depends on what kind of exercise the user will do – for strongman training and powerlifting, 10mm and 13mm is the most obvious choice. On the other hand, for casual lifters or gym-goers, 5mm thickness is enough to meet their needs, providing support without being too bulky.
Width: This too depends on the users’ needs. A powerlifter should choose an International Powerlifting Compliant belt which means the width should be 4” maximum. Powerlifters will choose a non-tapered straight belt; still, there are situations when a tapered belt can meet their needs.
A tapered weightlifting belt has smaller coverage on the front side, which means there are fewer chances for the belt to dig into hip bones or ribs. That said, the primary purpose of a lifting belt is to provide something to users’ core to push against.
Custom Weightlifting Belts
While lifters may get a nonfunctional weightlifting belt made of garment leather when they go to a shop and buy one, they can get a belt that has a lifetime guarantee when they opt for a custom weightlifting belt. Customized belts are guaranteed to withstand the heaviest squats or pull lifters can take.
The process of customization is simple. Users just need to understand which style they want and add the features they desire. For example, they can choose from various colors of suede as well as camouflage designs. They can also add their favorite texts to the belt, such as their name or their favorite saying or Twitter or Instagram tags.
These are the best ways to let people recognize the lifter. When the athletes present themselves on the platform, people will notice the weight in their hand, what wraps they are wearing, what suit they have on, and what belt is supporting them but they won’t know the lifter’s name and what they stand for. By putting a Bible verse or an adage they live life by, they can make people know that they don’t merely lift weights but also what they stand for.
Once the user chooses what style they want and select color options, they will have to type in what they want their belt to read. They can pick Block or Script font or can make a special request too.
Next, they can choose their favorite color for stitching which can either be matching or contrast with the design so as to make the belt more conspicuous or faded.
Finally, lifters can add the option for edging which makes the belt look “more complete”. But it depends on the lifter whether to choose this option or not, and as such, has not much influence on the belt.
All in all, a custom belt makes the lifter proud!
Top Weight Lifting Belts
Here is a short list of what we think are the best and not the most expensive lifting belts for most of the lifters found at commercial and home gyms. Choose according to your personal needs and preferences.
Genuine Leather Pro by Dark Iron Fitness
The Genuine Leather Pro weight lifting belt by Dark Iron Fitness provides men as well as women maximum ab and lumbar support with four inches wide and three eighth inch (5mm) thick leather around users’ core. Its edge has been additionally reinforced with double stitching.
To make users get cinched in snugly and securely, there is a double buckle system. There are loops that prevent a tab from meddling with the users and they get just the perfect fit with 11 pairs of holes. To prevent the belt from moving while the user is lifting, there is an adjustable, non-slip fit.
With only 1.5lbs weight, it’s super-light and also non-bulky. Plus the belt comes with a manufacturer’s replacement warranty for a lifetime. A drawback with this belt is that it needs breaking in. Also, the 3/8th inch thickness may be good for a beginner but won’t be enough for heavy lifters.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Genuine Leather Pro Weight Lifting Belt Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
ProFitness Genuine Leather Workout Belt
Built from premium-grade leather, ProFitness Genuine Leather Workout Belt won’t tear, stretch or slip while the user is exercising, no matter how big is the weight. The double prong, adjustable, roller buckle of this heavy-duty belt makes the belt stay in place while the user is lifting, bending, straining, and squatting.
The belt has been designed for both women and men and features an enhanced width of 4”. It comes in two colors – white and red. This unisex belt comes in three convenient sizes, namely Small (23”-31”), Medium (32”-40”), and Large (41”-49”). The belt comes with a 60-day full money-back guarantee.
The only drawback of this belt is that it may lose color and stain the clothes if the user sweats too much.
For more reviews and recommendations, check ProFitness Genuine Leather Workout Belt Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Stoic Powerlifting Belt/Weightlifting Belt
Made of full-grain, vegetable-tanned sole leather Stoic Powerlifting Belt/Weightlifting Belt for men and women features strong nylon stitching. Its suede exterior increases support and longevity. As proof of the quality of its leather, this powerful belt has been left raw and undyed.
The belt has a fastening mechanism containing a single-prong buckle having a seamless roller. With its uniform 4 inch width all through the belt and 10mm thickness, the belt is compliant with the IPF standards, while the thickness of its suede exterior is only 1.2mm.
The following federations have also approved this belt:
- IPL (International Powerlifting League)
- USPA (United States Powerlifting Association)
- USA Powerlifting (USAPL) for state and local meets
- AAU (Amateur Athletic Union)
The drawbacks of this belt include a requirement to break in, small sizes, and the buckle that might pinch the skin.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Stoic Powerlifting/Weightlifting Belt Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Ader Leather Power Lifting Weight Belt
Ader Leather Power Lifting Weight Belt is a quality product. It’s a 4-layered belt with 4 inches of width and 10.5mm of thickness with soft suede lining on each side for enhanced comfort and double nylon stitching as well as finishing showing high quality.
The belt is available in only black color but offers various size options. It features a seamless roller buckle and a single loop. Though the belt comes in various size options like Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, and some more fringe sizing, unfortunately, Ader doesn’t specify exact measurements of these various sizes.
The edges and leather of the belt’s layers are quite hard and cut deep in the user’s skin till the edges are file and the belt breaks in. However, given that it’s 10mm thick and not 13mm, it’s perfect for most beginners and intermediate users.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Ader Leather Power Lifting Weight Belt Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Schiek Sports L6010 10cm Wide Suede Leather Double Prong Competition Power Lifting Belt
Schiek Sports L6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt is one of the more rigid belts by Schiek and is designed especially for powerlifters. It is definitely a more stable belt among most leather belts. It’s 9mm thick i.e. sufficiently thick to prevent any bending in when the torso is extended or flexed.
Unlike most other belts by Schiek, this belt features a cylinder style that is typical of most lifting belts. Its double-prong stainless steel buckle provides maximal protection to the abdomen.
Though this belt is extremely durable, its thick leather may be hard on the skin. The leather used is genuine suede which is taken from the underside of hides of a variety of animals. It gives a softer finish and a hard exterior.
Most lifters find Schiek Sports L6010 to be the best lifting belts for back squats and deadlifts.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Schiek Sports L6010 Leather Power Lifting Belt Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Iron Bull Strength 10mm Double Prong - 4-inch Wide Weight Lifting/PowerLifting Belt
The Iron Bull Strength 10mm Double Prong 4-inch Belt is made of exclusive suede leather.
Its 10mm thickness has not been achieved by stacking layers together but is finished with fine top-quality suede that provides the best comfort and support and a non-slip surface.
Added to this is the double stitching construction that gives a solid, durable belt. The belt also features a Double Roller Prong System made from zinc-plated steel.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Iron Bull Weightlifting/Powerlifting Belt Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Harbinger Padded Leather Contoured Weightlifting Belt with Suede Lining and Steel Roller Buckle
Harbinger Padded Leather Contoured Weightlifting Belt is an extra-wide 6” padded leather belt that supports users’ back and abdomen, while at the same time preventing abdominal herniations.
It has a contoured rib and hip design that offers maximum midsection fit for powerful tensioning around the waist. For extra comfort, suede lining and interior foam cushioning have been provided. This also maintains muscle warmth.
Plus the dual-pronged heavy-duty steel roller buckle ensures custom fit. Durability is guaranteed by double stitching. Some users have found that the belt is too thin and tears easily, while other users are quite fine with it and find the belt excellent.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Harbinger Padded Leather Contoured Weightlifting Belt Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Harbinger 4-Inch Nylon Weightlifting Belt
Harbinger 4-Inch Nylon Weightlifting Belt matches other nylon belts in stability. Its 4” width allows users to adjust it seamlessly from low to high on the torso if required. The 3-inch thick strap enables users to pull the belt tight with a lot to overlap.
The belt is great for any form of squat as it holds users firmly. Since this belt is nylon, powerlifters who need a rigid, stiff belt may not find it right because nylon doesn’t hold the body as firmly during lifts like low-bar squats as leather holds.
Nylon- and cloth-based belts offer the best comfort. Harbinger 4-Inch nylon belt has a softer inner lining which is noticeably softer than the outer nylon. Therefore this belt is soft on the skin. Also, the stainless steel buckle which is well-sewn for added security doesn’t touch skin and so, doesn’t cause any chafing or scratching.
The double-stitching all through the outer rim provides a firm feeling. The loop that links the Velcro strap is of stainless steel and hence is less likely to wear. However, being nylon this belt has a risk to wear early, and hence, it may not be right for lifters who want their belt to last longer.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Harbinger 4-Inch Nylon Weightlifting Belt Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Fire Team Fit Weightlifting Belt, Olympic Lifting, Weight Belt, Weight Lifting Belt for Men and Women, 6 Inch, Back Support for Lifting
Fire Team Fit Weightlifting Belt helps maintain good form during lifting. It’s available in Pink, Black, Grey, and Blue. Not only the colors but the range of sizes it comes in makes this belt suitable for men as well as women.
Users ranging in sizes as small as 27 inches (around the navel) to as large as 42 inches can use this belt comfortably.
This belt is perfect not only for weightlifting but also for exercises like Power Cleans, Clean and Jerks, Back Squats, Overhead Squats, Dead Lifts, and many more. It features a Velcro support, unlike leather belts with a prearranged set of holes.
This makes it offer adjustability for tightness for the desired support and comfort required for the leg as well as core body exercises. The downside of this belt is that it is made more of fabric and users looking for a stiffer support belt may want a leather belt instead.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Fire Team Fit Weightlifting Belt Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Grip Power Pads Lever Buckle Weightlifting Belt Real Genuine Leather Individually Handmade Powerlifting & Bodybuilding
Grip Power Pads Lever belt is designed to offer maximum lumbar support. It is 4” wide and 13mm thick all through, not as wide in the front, unlike most other models in the market.
The uniform thickness ensures maximum lower back as well as abdominal support during strength training. Each belt is handmade from premium natural leather, resulting in an exclusive product that is an interesting counter to the stereotype factory models proliferating in the market.
The belt comes in a variety of sizes and features an easy-to-use but dependable buckle system. Although available with every good feature, this belt may be expensive to some users.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Grip Power Pads Weightlifting Belt Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Long Story Short: When used properly, lifting belts do their job. Since we are all different, choose the belt according to your personal needs and preferences.
You are a girl/woman and a man's belt fits you perfectly? Go and get it and don't bother about various classifications :)
But whatever you do - stay safe!