Looking online at weightlifting belts is a one-way ticket to confusion land. Once you get past the arguments over whether they’re good or bad, you’ve got the ‘when should I use one?’ dilemma. Once you’ve navigated that maze, you’re onto the final challenge – which belt do I pick, out of a million different options?!
There’s a 3 inch, 4 inch, 5 inch, leather, nylon, buckle fastened, velcro fastened, lever fastened and the like. It’s question after question and if you haven’t tried many out, you can find yourself on the back end of an expensive mistake (like me once, when a few beers in I bought a powerlifting belt when I wanted a weightlifting belt, but that’s another story!)
In this article, I’m going to guide you through the decision making process of the best weightlifting belt to purchase, helping you make a decision based on what will be important to you and your needs, because ultimately, the best weightlifting belt to purchase is down to the kind of use you’re going to put it through.
We’re going to look at materials, fastenings, ideal usage, costs and build quality. At the end of the review you’ll know exactly what to look for in the ideal weightlifting belt.
**If you are in a rush, here are the 2 belts I recommend:
This isn’t a random review roundup that has unhelpful reviews on 4 options on Amazon.
I ranked the weightlifting belts below on very specific criteria, specifically:
And I’m not saying this to “brag,” but I’m a personal trainer and own my own gym. I’m not an expert at too many things, but weightlifting equipment is my bread and butter.
If you’re looking for the best quality weightlifting belt, you won’t find one better than the Oly Ohio weightlifting belt from Rogue.
I’m trying to think of a single box that this belt doesn’t tick, and I can’t think of one.
It’s a tapered fit (2 inch strap, 4 inch back) so fits comfortably.
The 10mm leather is forgiving but supportive, so it doesn’t take months to break in.
The vegetable tanned leather looks great, the stitching is high quality and the belt buckle is supportive without being too bulky.
It’s part of the Rogue Ohio product line that just drips with quality–everything I’ve ever reviewed from the Ohio range is fantastic and this belt is no exception.
I can’t look past it for my number one pick–sure it’s not the cheapest, but it’s supportive, well made, fits great and will last you forever.
I think the value is far more important than price and the Rogue Oly Ohio Belt has stacks of it. You might look at the price tag and look elsewhere, but this belt is built to last. It’s comfortable, it’s very supportive, it’s made to the highest standard and it’ll literally have your back whether you’re weightlifting, powerlifting or bodybuilding. It’s a real all-rounder.
That’s not a typo.
I honestly think that at $45, the Rogue USA Nylon Belt is the best value belt in the world. It might not be the best belt outright, but to get something of this quality for less than 50 bucks is a joke.
It’s a tapered fit, moving from a 4 inch strap to a 5 inch back panel. The support strap is 3 inches so strong enough to cope with demands on lifting.
The support is good and it’s perfect for CrossFitters, where it’ll need to be put on and off quickly.
The belt has been developed with Mat Fraser, recently-retired 5 times CF Games champion.
There are potential issues with the velcro, but they’re not common. Besides, it’s a $45 belt, not a $150. It’s a pound-for-pound champion, that’s for sure.
If you’re after a premium quality belt but, budgets are tight, this is an absolute no-brainer. The Rogue USA Nylon Belt is a great belt and whilst it won’t last you forever, you’ll get a good few years out of it without any issue. At the price point, you won’t find better.
I love the Rogue Premium Ohio lifting belt, but in an opinion that might upset Rogue themselves, I think the premium belt is slightly behind the Oly Ohio model. I get the features of the premium belt–the upgraded leather, the finished edges, the non-slip interior texture. It’s a wonderful belt, but it’s not as good as the Oly belt.
So why is a premium belt not #1? For me, the tapering of the Oly belt makes it a better belt for weightlifting. The Oly is less bulky in the front and this is a big deal in weightlifting–the bar passes the navel on every lift, so you want to be as ‘free’ as possible at the front. There’s also the $15 savings. Not life-changing, but it’s something.
Some lifters prefer a nylon belt for reasons beyond price alone–they’re more flexible and comfortable for many than leather belts. This is where the Schiek 2004 lifting belt comes into its own.
It’s probably the most comfortable belt on the market, with its patented cone-shape to provide lower back support and a wide front to offer abdominal support.
Of all the Schiek belts, the 2004 is the most popular amongst weightlifters and CrossFitters. It’s an excellent belt and for the quality, the price is a steal.
It’s not as long-lasting as the leather belts and doesn’t provide quite as much support, but for a great value belt, it’s a solid option.
The Schiek 2004 is almost a cult classic and has been adopted as the official belt for Tia-Clair Toomey, which shows it’s comfort and quality. It’s in 4th place based on the fact that it may not be supportive enough for the strongest guys and that nylon belts typically don’t last as long as the leather belts.
Weightlifting belts tend to be tapered, with a 2-4 inch belt strap widening to a 4 or 5 inch lumbar support. Some belts don’t taper and are the same width all around. This is more of a powerlifting shape belt, but there are weightlifting belts that are this shape too.
Fundamentally the differences are that the tapered belt offers more lumbar stability and less core stability. The non-tapered belts provide good core and back stability, but a lot of lifters find them less comfortable–they’re bulkier and can get in the way of the olympic lifts.
Ultimately it’s personal preference, but having used belts for years I will ALWAYS use a tapered belt for weightlifting.
There are three main fastening types–buckle, velcro and lever. They all have their advantages and disadvantages.
The buckle is a solid choice.
It can be a little fiddly and not as precise as velcro, but when you tighten that buckle, the belt is staying tight. You’ll be well supported and it’ll last forever. It’s pretty easy to put on and take off.
Velcro is the most precise, plus it’s easier to remove. It’s also the most likely to lose tightness, but if we’re being honest, that’s generally unlikely. If you’re a CrossFitter where you need to remove a belt quickly, go for velcro.
The lever is the tightest. When that thing locks on, it’s going nowhere. Like the buckle, it’s not as precise as the velcro but it offers great support. It’s a little longer to put on, so not ideal if you need to remove your belt quickly.
Leather weightlifting belts are generally very stiff and more supportive than a nylon belt, which is why they tend to be favoured by the lifters who are after some serious support. If you’re after something that has a stiffer, more rigid construction then go with leather. There are a variety of thicknesses available.
You’ll pay more, but that’s because you’re buying a premium product that will last you a lot longer. A good belt can last literally decades, so bear that in mind when you freak at the cost!
Nylon weightlifting belts are more flexible, more comfortable but not as supportive. A nylon belt is usually fixed with a velcro attachment which offers a more precise setting and they’re quicker to get on and off, which might be a factor if you compete in CrossFit and may need it sporadically, switching from lifting to moving.
Generally speaking, nylon belts are a lot cheaper but will need to be replaced every few years, depending on the amount of use they’re getting.
To answer this question, I’d suggest you go back to first principles and think about the kind of training you’re going to do and the level of support you’re going to need.
Traditionally, the thicker, 5 inch belt has better back support for overhead work so if most of your training is weightlifting or CrossFit style where you’ll be sticking a lot of weight overhead, you should go for a thicker belt.
If you’re more of a bodybuilder and are spending less time with a heavy weight directly overhead, a narrower belt is likely to be more appropriate. It’ll afford you a little more flexibility whilst still providing the support you need.
If you’re a really strong guy or need a lot of support thanks to past back injuries, I’d urge you to go for a tapered-shape leather belt. They offer more support, tighter grip and will keep your core tight.
Your height is also a factor – if you’re a 6’10 guy, a 3 inch belt won’t be much use. Likewise, if you’re a 5’1 woman, a 5 inch belt will be way too big! Most men will be fine with a 4 or 5 inch belt, most women with a 3 or 4 inch belt.
Beyond the obvious looks and budget, here’s the other things you’ll need to consider when it comes to the best weightlifting belt to purchase…
In my opinion, you won’t find better options for any price point than the options on this list.. There may be decent options elsewhere, but after combining quality, cost and versatility, Rogue is the clear winner, here.
If you want a quality belt that will last for you decades, go for the Rogue Oly Ohio Lifting Belt.
If you’re looking for the best budget option, go for the USA Nylon Weightlifting Belt.
You won’t regret your decision.
Not satisfied? Check out our piece on budget garage home gym ideas here.