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How do I Choose the Best Powerlifting Belt?

By M. Rosario
Updated May 17, 2024
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Serious lifters should consider several factors when choosing a powerlifting belt. A comfortable fit that provides rigid back support is important, as are the material, width, and locking mechanism of the belt. The belt should also conform to the standards set by the organization or contest in which the lifter is planning to participate.

A good powerlifting belt should fit around the waist and hips without restricting mobility. Only when lifting, should the powerlifter feel some pressure around the abdomen and back. Try out a few sizes to make sure you have one that fits comfortably.

Another factor to consider is the material the belt is made of. Nylon and leather are the two most common materials used for powerlifting belts. Nylon is more flexible, comfortable, and easier to adjust. Leather, however, is more rigid and provides more support but is harder on the skin.

The average width of a powerlifting belt is 4 inches (10.16 cm). A taller weightlifter, however, would probably be more comfortable in a 5 or 6 inch (12.7 or 15.24 cm) wide belt. The width should be uniform around the belt, to help sustain the intra-abdominal pressure that supports the spine during lifts. Look specifically for width uniformity when choosing a belt. A common mistake among new buyers is purchasing an Olympic style belt, which is wider at the back.

The locking mechanism might also affect which powerlifting belt you choose. Lifters can choose between single pronged, double pronged, and lever buckles. Pronged buckles are easier to adjust but are more difficult to remove. Double pronged locks are said to be more durable than single pronged, as the load is distributed more evenly between the prongs. Levers, on the other hand, are easier to put on and take off but are harder to adjust.

Before buying any kind of weightlifiting belt, make sure you need one. A lifter can become so accustomed to the belt that he cannot lift properly without it. There is also a risk of ignoring the proper lifting form, as the belt usually guides the lifter throughout the movement. Core training may also be neglected which can be harmful, as the core is essential to the transfer of power from the legs to the upper body. Before buying any kind of weightlifting belt, consult with a physician to check for any spinal problems, as the belt can aggravate previous injuries.

Weightlifting clubs and competitions typically have powerlifting belt regulations. These will most likely indicate the maximum width and allowable belt material. Make sure to inquire about organizational guidelines before buying a lifting belt if you intend to compete or join a club.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Sporkasia — On Nov 16, 2014

The most important safety step you can take in the weight room is to never lift weights alone. I always work out with a partner and this way I have a spotter to help me if I get into trouble with the weights.

In general, weight lifting belts can be good, but like anything else you have to know the proper way to use them. And like the article says, you have to find the right fit for your body. I see people using other people's belts when the belts are not well suited for them. This is a waste of time at best.

By Drentel — On Nov 15, 2014

@Feryll - The average weightlifter might not need the extra protection of a power lifting belt, but these pieces of equipment are very important for people who are lifting their max weights. When you are trying to lift as much weight as possible, you are basically pushing your body beyond its comfort zone.

For this reason, the extra support of a weight lifting belt is good to have. It's better to have it as a backup and not need it than to not have it and find out you actually did need it to avoid an injury.

By Feryll — On Nov 14, 2014

I lift weights about three times a week on average. I see guys using the weight lifting belts all of the time in the weight room, but I don't think I really need one. After reading this article, I am even more convinced I don't need one.

The article says that a person who uses the belts can become so dependent on the belt that he can't lift without one. I definitely don't want to be in that position.

I don't lift overly heavy weights. I concentrate more on weight I can lift for at least three reps at a time. I also always try to make sure my body is in the right position when I am lifting so as not to strain anything. By taking all of these precautions, I think I will be fine without a belt.

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