Who needs the best weightlifting belts? Anyone who want to crush their heavy lift PBs without risking back injuries. As great as they are, heavy compound exercises such as deadlifts and weighted squats put your lower back under a lot of stress and the best lifting belts can help reduce some of this stress and enable you to lift more.
Probably not the first workout gear you will get – you'll need workout shoes and a gym bag first – weight lifting belts are used by people who work with heavier weights either in commercial gym or in their home gym. and when we say heavy, we mean heavy: belts can provide support during heavy deadlifts and squats. To protect your hands when lifting ultra heavy barbells loaded with weight plates, consider wearing lifting gloves.
If you prefer to workout at home (or can't workout elsewhere), check out T3's best home gym equipment guides: you'll need a pair of the dumbbells, a weight bench, possibly a kettlebell or two for functional training and maybe a pull up bar to work your back. Getting an ab roller wouldn't hurt either.
You might also need to supplement your weight process with protein, especially if you're skinny, so have a look at our best protein powder and best weight gainer guide. We can also tell you how to gain weight when you're skinny: we've all been there.
Leather vs velcro weightlifting belts: which one should you get? Is one type better than the other? What even is a double prong? Let's find the best weight lifting belt for your needs.
The best weightlifting belts, in order of preference
The Beast Gear PowerBelt is one of the best rated weight lifting belts both on Amazon and on Beast Gear's own website. This is due to the quality materials used for the belt as well as the manufacturing process that makes this belt not only extra supportive but also long lasting too.
The PowerBelt is 10 mm thick, giving your lower back ample amount of support whilst also being 4" wide all the way around, so slim enough so it won't restrict your movement.
The main material of the belt is 100% cowhide leather, held together by heavy duty stitching and supported by stainless steel buckle and rivets. The PowerBelt will most likely last longer than your habit to frequent the gym, but even if it won't, you can include it in your will because it will definitely outlast you. Well, probably.
The AQF 6-inch Neoprene Curved Weightlifting Belt is not only ideal for squats and deadlifts due to it's flexible form factor but it's also a great accessory to move furniture around. 🙌
According to AQF, the "downward angle design will fit the natural shape of your back, hips and rib contour", stabilising your midsection to reduce stress on lower back. Putting the belt on and taking it off is easy thanks to the quick release 'hoop and loop' closure system which can be operated using one hand only.
The AQF 6-inch Neoprene Curved Weightlifting Belt is flexible and takes up little space in your gym bag; definitely less than traditional leather belts. You can also choose from three colour options: black, green or grey, to further personalise your belt (and to match your workout gear).
Do you live in the US and need a quality powerlifting belt? Look no further than the Gymreapers leather belt. The adjustable lever buckle makes it easy to put on and take off the belt, exactly what you need when you are trying to focus on beating your previous deadlift PR. You don't want to waste time and lose focus trying to fiddle around with a double pronged buckle.
The Gymreapers 10mm Lever Belt is a straightforward lifting belt: its 4-inch thickness makes it accessible to most lifters and it is not too thick either, although the 0.5-inch thickness is not thin per se. However, if you lift heavy, you will appreciate the durability and the support the Gymreapers 10mm Lever Belt has to offer.
Available in five different colour options, the Gymreapers 10mm Lever Belt is a great investment for anyone who wants to be string but don't want to wreck their backs in the process.
According to Gunsmith Fitness, the Shibusa range refers to 'simple, subtle and unobtrusive beauty'. Indeed, the vegetable tanned leather of the Shibusa weight lifting belt does look handsome.
Not only good-looking, the Shibusa weight lifting belt is also durable and comes with a lot of options to choose from, including two different widths (4" and 6") and either double pronged buckle (Olympic belts) or powerlifting lever closure/single pronged (powerlifting belts).
The two Olympic variety are thinner, between 6-7 mm thick, making them more flexible without losing out on the support of a leather belt. The powerlifting belts are 10 mm thick for extra support.
They also have ample amount of cushioning around the lumbar area, although as with any belt, if you have any lower back issues, you should definitely consult your doctor first before endeavouring on heavy weight lifting sessions.
The Harbinger Women's Nylon Weightlifting Belt is the best choice for women who lift: it follows the female contour more accurately, providing support in all the right areas while being light and highly adjustable. This nylon belt has a heavy-duty wraparound strap and fastens securely using a heavy-gauge steel tensioning buckle. Quick to adjust and equally as quick to take off.
The breathable, plush tricot lining is soft against the skin and comfortable throughout even the most varied workouts – although as flexible as this belt is, you probably won't wear it for longer than other lifting belts. Put it on for your heavy squats and deadlifts, no need to leave it on for leg lifts too.
The Harbinger Women's Nylon Weightlifting Belt is available in three sizes: X-Small (24-28 inches), Small (28-32 inches), and Medium (32-36 inches).
The benefits of the RDX Powerlifting Belt is pretty straightforward: it is a heavy-duty belt made out of quality materials and using industrial grade stitching and a rust-proof steel lever clasp closure. Can't get much secure than this.
This oil-tanned belt also looks the part, no wonder strongmen often choose it as their go to support accessory. Let it be a log lift, a deadlift a squat or even a yoke lift, the RDX Powerlifting Belt will increases spine and core stability.
The Mytra fusion uses a surprising amount of tech, considering that it is 'only' a weight lifting belt and not a triathlon bike.
For example, the WZX-Core padding offers extended protection to the lumber and spinal area whilst special FRG-Back Rest technology enhances the comfort level of the spine and vertebral column to the maximum during the lifting and workout sessions.
The steel double pronged buckle system is plenty secure enough for most lifts you might ever attempt in the gym, let alone home. The Fusion Mytra is a 6-inch belt, meaning it is suited for people who reuire a lot of support in the lower back area. Not to mention it looks pretty cool, though.
How to choose the right weight lifting belt?
There are a few things you need to consider before buying a weight lifting belt.
Firstly, material: the most popular versions are made out of either leather or neoprene. Leather belts tend to be more rigid as well as being sturdy, offering ample amount of lumbar support for even heavier lifts. On the other hand, neoprene belts are more flexible and lighter, fit in your bag better and mould to your body shape more.
Weight lifting belts also come in either 4-inch or 6-inch sizes. This doesn't mean the length of the belt but the width of the middle area of the belt where it supports your back. The 6-inch variety provides more lumbar support whilst the 4-inch version is less restricting.
Speaking of sizes: although weight lifting belts use the same sizing names as other items of clothing (small-medium-large and so on), they aren't the same size as said clothes. So, of you buy medium t-shirts, a medium weight lifting belt might be too small for you. Always check the sizing guides before you buy one to avoid disappointment and the hassle of returning and replacing your belt with the retailer.
There are also different fastening methods you can choose from. Some weight lifting belts use quick release buckles that can be fastened and unfastened with one hand and other belts have heavy duty double-pronged buckles.
The neoprene ones most usually use a quick-release fastener whilst the leather belts use pronged-buckles. In theory, the double-pronged leather bands are the strongest, but saying this, weight lifting belts don't have to hold actual weights, they 'only' have to support your back and abdomen when you lift (or squat). So, having a tensile strength that can hold a small truck might not be all that useful. For added peace of mind, though, you can always get a really strong belt.
Should you use a belt when lifting?
Whether you should use a lifting belt depends on a variety of factors but generally speaking, you can get away with not using one – not even for deadlifts or squats – for a long time as long as you perform these exercises with the correct form. That said, you should never compromise on form, even when you wear a lifting belt. They can give you some support but won't be able to undo the damage you can do by not activating your core before heavy lifts.
As an example, and this is definitely not rule of thumb, just a personal anecdote, I can do four sets of 12 deadlifts using 1.5-times my bodyweight without using a belt. The amount you can lift without a belt can vary from person to person and the most important thing you can do is to listen to your body: once you feel a strain on your lower back, start wearing a belt. Especially if you do deadlifts/squats often (e.g. you're a powerlifter).