Powerlifting is all about raw strength. It is a very primal form of exercise. And you have to agree that putting so many wights on the bar that it starts to sag under the weight can be pretty hardcore and badass. It is also incredibly dangerous if you don’t prepare your body correctly. All that extra weight above your head exerts a tremendous amount of pressure on your spine.
Powerlifting belts are designed to give your spine and abs additional support while lifting heavy loads. These belts can make your strength training sessions smoother and less stressful. This why you need simply the best powerlifting belt your money can buy. After all, what is more important, your spine or a few extra dollars?
In this review, we will take a close look at the best powerlifting belts available online. You can check our handy comparison table below to learn all about their specifications and features. Scroll down for an in-depth users’ review of the top five models on the market. And if you are curious about learning more about powerlifting belts, don’t forget to check our informative buyer’s guide at the end.
Best Powerlifting Belts of 2018
|RDX Nubuck Powerlifting Belt (Editor's Choice)||Double Prong||Oil-tanned Nubuck leather||26"-45"||Brown, Black|
|Flexz Fitness Lever Buckle Powerlifting Belt||Lever||Finest quality leather||24"-44"||Black, Blue, Pink, Red, Violet|
|Stoic Powerlifting Belt||Single Prong||Vegetable tanned full grain sole leather||20"-48"||Brown|
|RDX Cowhide Leather Gym Training Belt||Double Prong||Oil-fixed leather||24"-45"||Brown|
|Dark Iron Fitness Pro Leather Belt||Double Prong||Premium reinforced real leather||23"-49"||Brown|
1. RDX Nubuck Powerlifting Belt – Best Allround Powerlifting Belt
Nubuck is a top grain leather that has been sanded down to have a soft but very durable exterior. And that is one of the best features of this belt from RDX. The leather is oil tanned for superior finish and durability. The belt has dual stitching throughout its length for a long-lasting effect. The rivets and buckle are made of strong stainless steel.
Nubuck belt is a proper powerlifting belt, with a uniform four-inch width across the length of the belt. It offers better support for your abs than a weightlifting belt with a thinner tapered front portion. The thickness is also pretty standard at around half an inch. What is unfortunate though is the use of double-pronged buckles, which RDX seems to prefer for their belts for some strange reason.
The rivets are not the best quality in this belt and tend to pop off after a few months use. There are also some sizing issues, though nothing as significant as what w have experienced elsewhere.
On the whole, the RDX nubuck powerlifting belt fares much better some other affordable belts featured in this list. They have got most of the basics dialed down, though we do wish they would quit making these belts with double prong buckles. They offer no extra stability, at the cost of double the effort in putting the belt on. All things taken into consideration, this is one of the better belts on the list.
2. Flexz Fitness Lever Buckle Powerlifting Belt – Best Belt For Powerlifting With Lever Buckle
If you like belts with a lever buckle, this is probably one of the best models on the market. The stainless steel lever mechanism has excellent build quality. And as a bonus, you also get a lifetime guarantee with free replacement from the manufacturer in case of lever failure. As for the actual belt, it is made from good quality leather. It is very stiff and offers excellent support for your back. The black suede lining inside improves comfort and keeps the belt safely in place when you are lifting weights. The belt has an immaculate look, with no tacky logos, or multi-material inserts. Another great feature of this belt is its compliance with USAPL and IPF rules. So this is a competition safe belt.
This is ten mm thick belt, with a uniform width of around 4 inches. That consistent width means that this is a natural powerlifter’s belt. If you are a weightlifter, your movements might be hindered by this model. Always buy a belt that is designed for your specific lifting style.
The belt does not come with detailed instructions on how to properly use the lever mechanism. So you will have to do a bit of trial and error to figure everything out. It is a good thing that the manufacturer is offering a guarantee and free replacements on the lever, as this model has several issues. The buckle tends to break or fail. It will fall apart at times, and that is a big problem. Also, the belt holes are too small at times to properly accommodate the buckle.
The Flex Fitness belt is very affordable and has acceptable build quality in most areas, save for the buckle/lever mechanism. If you are okay with buying a belt that has a high chance of failure, this might be the belt for you. Incidentally, the manufacturers claim that they have looked into the lever issue, and is offering free replacements for any failed buckles. So that increases our ratings for this belt somewhat.
3. Stoic Powerlifting Belt – Best Single Prong Powerlifting Belt
The Stoic is a classic powerlifting belt, with uniform four-inch width and consistent support for your core regions. It is made from high-quality full grain leather, which is the material that we would recommend for all your powerlifting belts. And it also uses a simple and easy to use single prong buckle. Those make for hassle-free opening and closing and are the best kind of fasteners you could ask for in a belt. Stoic has kept the inner suede lining to a minimal thickness, and this is a good thing. You can see almost every aspect of the leather, and no spots are hidden. This is indeed a good quality leather material.
This powerlifting weight has uniform four inch or 10cm width, which makes it competition safe for USPA, IPL, AAU and other local events. The thickness of the leather is close to 10mm. The leather quality is excellent, which means that you will need to wait for the break-in period before the belt becomes fully functional and comfortable. This is common for all high-quality leather belts and is not a negative feature.
Like some other belts we have reviewed elsewhere, the Stoic also has issues maintaining a universal sizing system. They tend to send belts larger than the stated size. They need to improve that aspect of their quality control. The buckle metal quality is poor, and it tends to rust sooner rather than later. Some of the rivets also seem like having shoddy construction.
To be honest, the Stoic is not that big disappointment considering the low pricing. It ticks almost all the right boxes as far as utility and durability are concerned. The sizing aspect does need some improvement to reduce the risk of returns and replacements. Other than that, this is a budget powerlifting belt that gets the job done once you manage to get the size right.
4. RDX Cowhide Leather Gym Training Belt – Best Belt For Weightlifters
Superior back support is the main highlight of this leather belt from RDX. It has a contoured design with extra padding inside that guarantees more support for your lumbar region during lifts. Another great feature is the cowhide leather, which is of excellent quality. It is very soft, thanks to the oil treatment used in the processing. The belt also scores well in the hygiene department, thanks to the moisture wicking technology. This belt will not stink too much, which is an excellent feature in any gym equipment.
This is a weightlifting belt, which can be readily ascertained looking at the uneven width of the belt. Though it can be used for all kinds of lifting, you will get better performance doing Olympic style routines with this belt. Also, it has a double prong design, which is a feature you have to take into consideration when choosing this belt. The belt is around half inch thick at the thickest section (the padded back), and quarter inch elsewhere. The width is the standard 4 inches in the widest area.
The indicated sizing options are way off for this belt from RDX. If you want to get a proper fit, you will probably have to order several sizes larger than your regular waist size. While the soft leather is undoubtedly comfortable, it does raise some questions regarding the durability of this belt. The stitching and riveting also leave a lot to be desired.
In our final estimation, the RDX belt has some nice features, but also some real stinkers. The double prong design can be a real pain while fastening the belt. The extra padding is undoubtedly welcome, but the increased softness raises some real concerns about long-term durability. The comfort and fit levels are excellent, and we have no issues in recommending this belt for weightlifters and casual powerlifters.
5. Dark Iron Fitness Pro Leather Belt – Best Powerlifting Belt For Beginners With Double Buckle
If you are a beginner in powerlifting, you don’t need thicker belts. Those are required for weights that exceed 400lbs. This thinner belt of Dark Iron Fitness is perfect for a beginner. It is the most affordable belt on our list. And at that low price point, it offers more than adequate build quality and features. The leather is top grain cowhide leather, with decent stiffness and excellent lumbar support. If you like logos and designs on your belts, the Dark iron will not disappoint you with its striking Spartan helmet logo and branding. The red and black color scheme also adds to the visual impact if you are into that kind of thing. The brand also offers lifetime replacement on this product, which could be useful.
This is a powerlifting belt. The width is uniform and a standard 4 inches at that. It weighs 1.5 lbs and is very lightweight. A lot of that is down to the 0.5cm thickness, but we will explore that in detail in the next section. The belt can be hand-washed with a damp cloth and is very easy to maintain. It is available in five different size options.
The main concern about this belt is that 5mm thickness. If you are a seasoned lifter, it is probably inadequate for your support needs. The thin edges also dig into your sides a bit when doing squats, and it can increase the discomfort levels. If you lift heavier weights, you will probably feel this belt stretching, which is not something you want in a powerlifting belt. And though the black color looks cool and all, the dye tends to run. Your clothes will probably get ruined initially. So be careful about that.
The Dark Iron belt is a decent choice for beginners. If you want a long-term belt for serious lifting, this is probably not capable of handling that kind of punishment. For seasoned lifters, this would probably rank as a decent CrossFit belt, not a real powerlifting belt. Buy only if you are a beginner lifting under 300lbs. In that case, the belt is good value for money.
Do I need a powerlifting belt?
Lifting deadweights is not about restricting yourself to specific weights. It is all about pushing your limits and trying to lift as much as your body and muscles allow you to. It is that simple. And if you indulge in this kind of strength training, or are planning to get into it, you will find a powerlifting belt very useful. These belts are aimed at anyone and everyone who plans to squat or deadlift as much weight as they possibly can.
How does a powerlifting belt help my body?
Many people think that wearing a belt can prevent any sort of injuries to your back or spine. This is not true, according to several studies reported in leading medical journals. If you wear a belt and try to do silly stuff using weights far beyond your capabilities, you will still end up getting hurt, period.
What a belt does is that it give your abs extra support. When performing deadlifts, you brace your body using breathing techniques called Valsalva maneuver. This step is essential for additional support and cushioning for your spine. When you wear a belt, it pushes against your abs when you do the belly breathing technique. This doubles the impact of the technique, allowing your back to handle heavier loads.
So the main benefit of using a belt is decreased stress on your spine and improved lifting efficiency. It will make you better at strength training. But as far as safety is concerned, there are some benefits, but a powerlifting belt is no magic shield against injuries.
Are there any situations in which I should NOT use a powerlifting belt?
The powerlifting belt is a beneficial accessory and performance enhancer, not an essential safety equipment. There are several instances where you may be better off without a belt:
- When you don’t do squats, deadlifts, or overhead presses. They may look cool, but you don’t need belts if all you do is bicep curls and other forms of light lifting.
- When the belt hinders movement. If wearing the belt negatively affects your performance, you might be better off training without a belt.
- When you are still learning technique and form. Wearing a belt is not easy. It can affect proper form and technique. If you are not well versed in these, focus on improving that before wearing as a belt.
- If you suffer from certain health issues like heart conditions or a hernia, a belt can be dangerous. The extra pressure in the abdominal area can make some conditions worsen. Check with your doctor if you suffer from any such ailments.
Is there any difference between powerlifting and weightlifting belts?
The short answer is yes. There are some definite differences between these two types of belts, the main being visual. A powerlifting belt has the same width throughout its body, while a weightlifting belt will have a tapering design towards the front.
They are optimized for the respective activities they are named after. If you do squats and heavy lifts, stick with a uniformly wide powerlifting belt. The uniform width gives extra support to your abs. For Olympic weightlifting, smooth movements are essential. The reduced width at the front decreases the chances of the belt hindering your movements.
What is the ideal width for a powerlifting belt?
Most powerlifting belts have a standard width of around four inches or ten centimeters. This is the optimal size for most individuals. A belt should ideally cover the area between your ribs and the hipbone. And four inches is generally enough for that purpose. It is also the width that most associations and federations permit for use in competitions.
Ladies and men with shorter midsections may have to look for narrower belts. When wearing a powerlifting belt, comfort is always a key factor. So if 4 inches feels like too much, look for 3 or 2.5-inch versions on the market.
Is there an ideal thickness of the best powerlifting belt?
Thickness is only one of the factors that affect the effectiveness of a belt. It is not the only factor. The single principle is that the belt should be thick enough that it stays stiffly in place when you are lifting. That being said, the upper limit is 13mm according to most federation rules. So most powerlifting belts follow this rule and keep the width at 13mm or 10mm.
What about belt materials?
There are mainly three options when it comes to materials used for manufacturing powerlifting belts:
- Leather: this is the overwhelming favorite among most powerlifters. The leather is the stiffest and most durable option. These belts also tend to have the best construction.
- Suede: this material gives primacy to comfort over ruggedness. These belts are softer and stay in place better when you are lifting.
- Velcro: preferred by some Olympic athletes, this material offers superior mobility, which can help improve smooth movements.
What is the ideal fastening mechanism for these belts?
Powerlifting belts come with three different types of fastening mechanisms. They are:
- Single Prong: this is the simplest and most straightforward option. It can keep the belt securely in place with minimal effort or fuss. Most lifters prefer single prong buckled belts.
- Double Prong: few lifters prefer or like this type of system. It takes double the effort as a single prong mechanism while offering the same level of security. It is somewhat annoying and can cause avoidable distractions when you are preparing your mind for the lift.
- Lever style: With these, you can have the belt securely in place using fewer steps than with the prongs. For that, you have to set the desired level of tightness in advance. This is a very convenient option if you prefer the same tightness for all your lifts. But changing the tightness settings can be a minor chore, involving tools. These are a good option for some lifters, not all.
Does wearing a belt cause any negative effects?
When worn with proper fit and finish, a powerlifting belt will not cause you any side effects. There is a common misconception that wearing these belts will weaken your abs by causing less activation in this muscle regions. Studies conducted on this question so far suggest that there is not basis for this claim. The activation of abdominal muscles was roughly the same in athletes who the belt and those who lifted without belts. In fact, strictly going by theories, regular use of belts may actually strengthen your abs in the long run. Please note that this claim also doesn’t have any scientific backing yet.
There are a lot of misconceptions about powerlifting belts. If you are a beginner to the world of strength training, it is vital that you educate yourself about the role of a belt. Even the best powerlifting belt can do nothing to protect your spine if you take unnecessary risks. A good belt can improve your performance and provide better long-term support for your back.
Depending on your lifting styles, you should stick with either a powerlifting belt or weightlifting belt. They offer different support levels, and for best results, you should match the belt to your style. We have included one weightlifting belt on our top 5 list here. In our opinion, the best belt out of the lot is the RDX Nubuck Powerlifting belt. It is made from top grain leather, has decent build quality, and conforms to competition rules as well. If you are a beginner, you can even consider the thinner Dark Iron Fitness belt as it provides adequate value at a lower price point.