How to Choose Your First Weightlifting Belt
Buying a weightlifting belt is like buying a running shoe: you have to have an idea of what you need and try others for fit, comfort, and functionality. There are a lot of variables to think about in your first belt, so let’s help you figure out what’s what.
We’ve already discussed the benefits of weightlifting belts , so we’ll move on to your options in this post. Most weightlifting belts will set you back $ 50 to $ 100 , so this is not a trivial investment. On the other hand, if you make the right choice and take good care of it, it will serve you for centuries.
Choosing a belt may seem overwhelming at first, but take heart: the exercises you usually do (powerlifting, Olympic lifts, or bodybuilding) will help narrow your choices. Then everything else is just personal preference.
Powerlifting Belts & Weightlifting Belts
Generally speaking, powerlifting belts are designed for people who often lift weights in squats and deadlifts , or powerlifting movements. Weightlifting belts for people who do Olympic lifting ( snatches and clean and snatches ), CrossFit and bodybuilding. A belt that matches your workout style is the quickest way to cut down on your choices.
The most obvious feature that distinguishes the two types of belts is their width. Powerlifting belt has a width of about 4 inches and uniform around the perimeter, while the belt for weightlifting usually has a width of 4 inches for the supporting part of the back, but is sharply narrowed in front . Some weightlifting belts may also have extra back padding , but as I noted, padding won’t make much of a difference in back protection .
These different widths are an intentional design choice. For powerlifting, you need a large front surface area for your abs to “press” when you breathe from your belly . When you do this, you are creating more intra-abdominal pressure to protect the spine under such heavy loads. On the other hand, if your belt is too wide in front for weightlifting movement, it can interfere with movement.
If you enjoy a little bit of strength training, there is a belt for you too. Some manufacturers have straps that will prepare you for whatever type of lift you choose. One example is the Best Belt athlete’s powerlifting belt ($ 109.99).
A thick belt isn’t necessarily better
In addition to varying widths, many lifting straps need to be 10 or 13 millimeters . The thickness provides that rigidity so that your spine does not bend like the Slinky. The thicker the strap, the stiffer and stronger it is, and the more likely it will remain in place when you lift it.
For first-time belt buyers, the struggle to choose between 10 and 13 is real: 13 millimeters provides better support, but for most lifters this can be really awkward and overkill. It is usually intended for people who are planning to carry some otherworldly weight. Most lifters, even really strong lifters, usually lift 10 points. You will know when it is too thick, because it will probably be difficult for you to get into the correct position for lifting.
By the way, if you are planning to compete in powerlifting, your belt should be no wider than 4 inches anywhere and no thicker than 13 millimeters in order to comply with the rules . Some suggestions: belt Inzer Forever 10 mm (89.95 US dollars), Belt Belt Brahma Realm’s the Titan (109,99 USD) or a cheaper option of Ader (the price depends on the size).
Select the belt material according to your lifting style
The belts are made of leather, suede or Velcro, and it really depends on personal preference. When it comes to powerlifting, most of the lifters I’ve talked to recommend leather . Leather straps are generally better designed, more durable and stiffer. A suede belt like Best Belt’s Athlete will be softer, won’t move as much, and may be more comfortable. On the other hand, many belts, like the Inzer Forever belt, combine the durability of leather and non-slip suede material to give you the best of both worlds.
For Olympic athletics, leather and suede options are also fine, but you can opt for a Velcro strap such as The Classic by Unbroken Design ($ 85), which some weightlifters prefer for its added portability.
Check your belt for fit and comfort
You never know if the best belt in the world will work for you, even without putting it on or lifting it (or at least mimicking exercise).
To determine the size of the belt , you need to measure the circumference of your waist at your belly button. Take a tape measure and measure carefully, making sure the tape runs evenly around your torso. And be honest: don’t call it 32 inches when it’s actually 34.
It is also advisable to try on belts of different widths. There are belts that are 4 “wide, but you can also find belts that are 3″ or 2.5 “wide . For most people, 4 inches is the sweet spot between the ribcage and the pelvic bone.
When you try on the belt, start with the fact that it should wrap around your belly button, not your hips. You definitely want the edge of the strap not to pinch you when you are trying to lift a terrible load, or any part of the strap that snags on the bar as you move. If so, you may like the belt that is slightly tapered at the front .
Differences between single prong, double prong or lever-fastened belts
From talking to other lifters and reading the opinions of many, it seems like the consensus is to kill double-edged prongs with fire. Most people prefer single-tooth belts like elitefts P2 Power belt ($ 115) because they are less annoying to open or close and are just as secure as two-prong belts. With double prongs, you have one more step to fuss over, which can take your attention away from your lift to tighten what should help you lift.
The lever type can be convenient because it reduces the number of steps. Once you’ve set the tension you want, you simply slip on the belt and click it into place. It’s great if you use the same seal for every lift every time. You can adjust the tightness, but you need to prepare the tools and spend some time doing it manually.
You either hate or love lever belts, and if you want to give it a try, many have recommended Inzer’s $ 90 Forever Lever Belt .
How to properly wear your new weightlifting belt
This video by Alan Thrall , strength trainer and owner of Untamed Strength , offers some helpful advice on choosing and wearing a belt. Be careful, weightlifting belts will be uncomfortable for a while, especially as you learn to get used to them.
Once you are comfortable with the belt, you can start experimenting with changing the position of the belt on your torso. For example, Omar Isuf, a strength and performance coach, told me that experienced belt userstend towear them higher on their torso during deadlifts than during squats . Particularly in the deadlift, you will find it more comfortable to wear it on your mid-belly. While squatting, you may like above the iliac crest.
You also want your belt to be tight enough to stay in one place while lifting, but not so tight that you obstruct full, deep breathing or circulation. The clothes you wear, and even the amount of water you hold in your hands, can affect how tightly you have to pull on the belt. If you’re just learning, you can wear it a little more loosely until you learn to love its less gentle hug. Finally, keep in mind that your new belt needs to be ripped just like your shoes .
For beginners, a thinner and less wide belt is generally more comfortable and usable in the short term. At the same time, of course, you want to think about the immediate benefits, but you also want to keep your long-term goals in mind (do you want to keep getting stronger?). If you have been playing sports for some time and continue to exercise, I recommend using a strap with one 10 mm wide pin. If you’re unsure and don’t want to invest, this inexpensive beginner’s belt will get good reviews and my recommendation.