Beginners Guide: Best Weightlifting Belts & Reviews – How & Why to Use?

In almost every fitness magazine, you see the models lifting weights without the support of a belt – but this isn’t how things work in reality.

If you’ve ever attended a serious weightlifting competition, you’ll notice that nearly every high-level lifter users the assistance of a belt when working with large weights.

They do this for a great reason.

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Best Weightlifting Belts

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Gabor Fitness 4-Inch Epic Performance

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Gabor Fitness 4-Inch Weightlifting Lifting Belt 5 Stars buy-from-amazon-button
Harbinger Weightlifting Belt

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Harbinger Weightlifting Belt 4.3 Stars buy-from-amazon-button
Fire Team Fit Weightlifting Belt

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Fire Team Fit Weightlifting Belt 5 Stars buy-from-amazon-button
Valeo 4-Inch VLP Performance Low Profile Belt

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Valeo 4-Inch VLP Lifting Belt 4.3 Stars buy-from-amazon-button
Genuine Leather Pro Weight lifting Belt

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Dark Iron Fitness Genuine Weight lifting Belt 5 Stars buy-from-amazon-button

Even if you always use proper form and never push yourself, lifting can still injure your back. Sometimes it results in a serious injury that will have to heal before you can resume your regular lifting routine, and sometimes it results in what’s called an overuse injury, which is a persistent soreness that never seems to subside.

A weightlifting belt makes you less likely to find yourself in either of those scenarios.

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They’re designed to hold your back and core in tight. This means your vulnerable muscles are less likely to slip or pull in directions you don’t want them to. Essentially, they’re protective back braces that are designed to be used during your workouts.

If you have a history of back injury or you feel like you’re been playing your luck for a little too long, a weightlifting belt is the answer to your problem.

It never hurts to use a weightlifting belt as a preventative for a potential injury.

Just like you wouldn’t ride a motorcycle without a helmet or go for a drive without a seatbelt, you shouldn’t be lifting heavy weights without the assistance of a weightlifting belt.

The Pros and Cons of Weightlifting Belts

Weightlifting belts are subject to pros and cons just like everything else. While there are many advantages to using a weightlifting belt, there may be a few minor drawbacks that affect your decision.

Most of the cons are specific to the designs of certain belts, so it’s extremely important to find the best lifting belt that’s going to work for your body and your lifting routine.

Pros

  • Weightlifting belts reduce the potential for spinal injury, which can be one of the most serious workout related injuries a lifter will experience.
  • The back support offered by a weightlifting belt can actually make your workout safer, especially if you’re trying to up the amount you can lift. These belts work by increasing your intra-abdominal pressure, which greatly reduces the burden on your spine.
  • Weightlifting belts make things like deadlifts, power cleans, and squat lifts easier. If you have trouble maintaining proper form or establishing the right kind of core stability, wearing a weightlifting belt can help you pick up the slack in the areas where you’re lacking.
  • Weightlifting belts will allow you to do a little more than you’re normally capable of. If you’ve been waiting to start lifting because your back and your abs aren’t developed enough to pick up the larger loads, a weightlifting belt will help you cheat a little.

Just don’t forget to do separate workouts for your back and your abs if you want your development to progress.

Cons

  • Weightlifting belts hold onto the core, making it easier for lifters to lift without engaging their abdominal area.
  • This can slow ab development, especially if you aren’t using alternative ab workouts to make up for the ab development you’re losing when using a weightlifting belt.
  • If you have an existing back injury, you’ll be less likely to notice it if you’re wearing a belt while you lift. It dulls out the pain from the lower back, and because of this, you’re less likely to catch minor injuries as they develop. You’ll need to pay attention to the way your back behaves without wearing a belt, and avoid using a weightlifting belt as an alternative to medical attention for back injuries.
  • When you’re wearing a weightlifting belt, your lower back won’t build as much strength.

You’ll need to make up for it by performing exercises that specifically engage your back to keep it You still need proper back strength, whether you intend to use a belt or not.

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Are Weightlifting Belts for Beginners or Experts?

Weightlifting belts are for both beginners and experts.

Everyone deserves to be equally supported while they’re working out.

The difference is in which belt the user would choose. For example, a beginner won’t need a large, bulky, heavy duty belt for small lifts. He or she can use a budget belt to get started, and move up to a more durable belt as experience is gained.

The belt you use should be in accordance with what you actually need.

A 75 pound lift doesn’t require an Olympic grade weightlifting belt, but a 200 pound lift does. What matters more than anything is that you’re using an appropriate belt that’s designed to handle your lifting style.

How to Select the Right Length

Finding the right length is not as simple as you may believe it is.

For example, if you wear size 32 pants, you may believe that a size 32 belt is going to work for you. In truth, it probably won’t. Most clothing is vanity sized, and your measurements are likely slightly larger than what the label on your pants is leading you to believe In order to determine what size belt you need, you’ll have to take your measurements manually.

To find your true size, you’ll need to use a flexible measuring tape, like the kind that tailors for fitting suits. Measure your body across your midsection without a shirt on, passing over your bellybutton.

Pull the tape taught, but comfortable. It shouldn’t be digging into your skin, but you shouldn’t have an excess of slack, either.

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Take the same measurement again, this time with your shirt on. There should only be a one or two inch difference.

The size you select should work for you with both your shirt on and your shirt off. This is because the thin cotton workout shirts you wear in the summer add far less bulk than the thicker shirts you’ll probably wear when you’re lifting in cold weather.

Many size brackets include a few inches in between, so it’s most important to find your actual range.

Belts also come in different widths, usually 4 to 6 inches. The larger the width, the better it will work for people who are taller and have a larger lower back and larger midsection due to their height.

If you’re six feet or taller, a six inch belt will provide you with maximum stability. If you’re under six feet tall, a four inch belt is probably enough to get the job done.

It’s important to note that some manufacturers make their belts “true to size”, which means they’re already in line with clothing sizes. If the manufacturer states this in their sizing information, you may be able to purchase the size you wear in jeans.

Even still, it never hurts to get your correct measurements to make the sure your actual size and your vanity size fall within the same size category. That way, you’ll be less likely to receive your belt and notice a greater disparity.

How to Wear Your Weightlifting Belt

Your belt should always be worn over some kind of shirt, even if it’s just a tank top or undershirt. This reduces the friction from the fabric rubbing against your body, though you may still feel it if your shirt is especially thin.

Like most belts, weightlifting belts have little size holes. Though you may feel tempted to, never fasten the belt as tight as it can go.

You want it to make contact with your abdominal muscles, but you don’t want it to constrict your core and reduce blood flow.

While you’re lifting, you need to make sure you’re getting enough oxygen into your blood stream, and a belt that’s fastened too tightly may inhibit that – leading to dangerous consequences. Instead of opting for the tightest possible setting, go one setting looser.

You should be able to fit your fingers in between your belt and your core.

Where you put your belt is very specific to your personal anatomy. The simple answer: wherever it feels right. If your belt is compressing your hips, it won’t actually help you lift. If it’s digging into your ribs, it will be hard for you to draw in a deep breath.

Try your belt on in a few different spots along your torso. The idea spot will be a place where it’s compressing neither your ribcage nor your hips. The exact location relies specifically on the length of your torso.

TOP 5 Best Weightlifting Belts Reviews 2017

There’s a belt for every kind of lifter

Whether you’re a casual lifter that works primarily with low weights or a serious lifter who regularly hoists over 200 pounds, there’s a great belt to give you the support you need as you train.

Gabor Fitness 4-Inch Epic Performance Low Profile Weightlifting Lifting Belt
Gabor Fitness 4-Inch Epic Performance

The core of this belt is made of waterproof foam. You won’t have to worry about sweating into the belt and disintegrating the material. It’s low profile, so it won’t get in your way.

The lining is soft and comfortable, providing you with maximum flexibility and allowing you to work out for as long as you want. It works for measurements as small as 22 inches and as large as 59 inches, so everyone will be able to enjoy it.

The four inch width won’t restrict your movements – you’ll get the benefits of the belt without the restriction that some larger belts place on your range of motion.

Harbinger Weightlifting Belt with Flexible Ultra-light Foam Core

Harbinger Weightlifting Belt

This belt is great for the casual lifter who needs a little more support. 5 inch gives you optimum range for heavy lifting, and a little more protection around your back than a slimmer belt.

The buckle on this belt is very large, and that makes it easy to handle the tensioning. If you need to adjust as you’re working out, it’s simple and smooth.

The lining is nice and plush, so it won’t feel scratch against your body, and the internal foam is closed cell, so it won’t absorb any moisture.

Fire Team Fit Weightlifting Belt, Crossfit, Olympic Lifting, for Men and Women, 6 Inch

Fire Team Fit Weightlifting Belt

This belt can hold up to even Olympic lifting, something that other belts simply aren’t designed for. The fit is unisex, so anyone will be able to enjoy it.

It’s a really wide belt, but it’s designed with grooves that contour to your body, so you won’t have to sacrifice your full range of motion while you’re lifting. It grabs and holds your abdomen just as well as it supports your back, and this combination is vital for serious lifts.

This belt also comes in a youth size, making it a great buy for teens just starting their lifting journey.

Valeo 4-Inch VLP Performance Low Profile Belt

Valeo 4-Inch VLP Performance Low Profile Belt

This is the best lifting belt for guys with limited budget. If you only need a light duty belt for occasional lifting, Valeo’s belt will help you get the job done.

The belt is made entirely of nylon, which makes it lightweight and comfortable to wear. The edges are soft bound, so they won’t scrape against you as you perform squats or deadlifts.

If you’re only into light lifting or you don’t lift very often, this is a great alternative to more expensive belts that are designed for the heavy duty stuff.

Dark Iron Fitness Genuine Leather Pro Weight lifting Belt for Men and Women

Genuine Leather Pro Weight lifting Belt

Since this belt is made of real leather, it’s nearly impossible to destroy. It may retain the smell of your sweat, as leather often does, but it’s a tradeoff you’re making in exchange for hardcore durability.

The belt is very stiff and uncompromising, offer you the maximum support you need for the heaviest of lifts. If you’re really serious about high weights and need a belt that can take some abuse, this is the best weightlifting belt you’ll find.

They’re so durable that the company offers a lifetime warranty. They may not be the most comfortable and the most flexible of belts, but safety matters more than comfort when it comes to keeping your back and core safe during intense lifting sessions.

Choosing The Right Belt For You

Every belt is designed with a different kind of user in mind. All you need to do is determine what kind of lifter you are, or what kind of lifter you intend to be at the end of your journey.

Buy the belt that corresponds with your personal lifting goals. A great belt will last you a long time, and it’s worth the one-time investment.

If you want to splurge, splurge. You’re not likely to wear any of these belts out if you’re using them correctly.