If squats, clean-and-jerks, and other powerlifting moves are part of your regular workout routine, you’ll need one of the best weightlifting belts in your corner for some extra support. When it comes to such dynamic-yet-fundamental exercises as these, proper form is paramount, and the heavier you go with those weight plates, the higher the risk for potential injury without the right tools in your tool…err, belt. That’s where the best weightlifting belts come into play. Safety first, folks.
Weightlifting belts are basically built for the purpose of keeping your back stabilized as you perform deadlifts, overhead presses, and other advanced exercises that simply aren’t for the faint of core. In short, the best weightlifting belts are there when you need them, and so are we. On the journey to becoming a magnificent Mountain of muscle, you’ll have to start out as a relative molehill first.
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What are the best weightlifting belts?
After testing out five different weight belts of various sizes and styles, the best overall weightlifting belt is the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt. This Editor’s Choice-winning brand is trusted by top-tier athletes around the country, and it’s dead-simple to use.
The Hookgrip Russian Weightlifting Belt is another top pick. Its unisex design is great for virtually all body types, and you just can’t argue with contoured comfort. Or the price.
The Dark Iron Fitness Weightlifting Belt is next on the list, and even though it’s super affordable, it doesn’t feel cheap. This belt strikes a good balance between comfort, core support, and durability amongst the myriad synthetic belts on the market today.
The best weightlifting belts to buy
If you already know your way around the gym, you’re probably familiar with this brand; Rogue has long been a trusted name in the weightlifting community, and the company is renowned for its strength and conditioning equipment — barbells, power racks, sleds, you name it. In fact, they’re the official equipment supplier of the CrossFit Games, USA Weightlifting, the Arnold Strongman Classic, and the World’s Strongest Man competition.
Looking for a more traditional weightlifting belt that isn’t pulling any punches? The Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt is a common pick for professional athletes across the board, and the Ohio looks like it ate your favorite tuxedo for breakfast. Available in five lengths and made from 10 millimeter-thick vegetable-tanned American leather, this 4-inch wide belt is meant to ease stress in your lower back while simultaneously reducing the potential for long-term injury in your spine. And it’s popular for a reason.
In my testing, the Rogue Ohio felt nice and snug around my waist, though even after several uses the leather is stubbornly stiff. (It comes with the territory.) That’s just fine by me, since that initial stiffness only adds to the overall support, but until the leather wears in, this weightlifting belt may be a little tricky to unbuckle. Not a deal-breaker by any means.
The flawlessly reinforced stitching and single-prong buckle keeps everything in place, allowing me to eke out that last ounce of energy as I transitioned from shrugs to squats to overhead press. My core felt secure with each and every rep. The entire belt feels like part of a horse saddle — which is a good thing. (Horse saddles can handle a lot more stress than anything my monkey-man muscles can muster, after all.)
If powerlifting is in your future, you can’t do much better than the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt.
When it comes to your go-to weightlifting belt, you don’t want one that’s too stiff, nor too bulky. The single-prong Hookgrip Russian Weightlifting Belt sits squarely within the Goldilocks Zone in terms of comfort and stability — for both male and female anatomy.
Each belt has nine holes punched roughly one inch apart, providing 10 inches overall of adjustability (available in an impressive variety of customizable sizes, from S to 3XL). Hookgrip belts are constructed from high quality leather that’s as flexible as it is strong.
While the first two belts on this list have a uniform width all the way around, Hookgrip’s bodybuilding-style belt features a contoured shaped that’s thick in the back (3.8 inches) and thinner in the front (2 inches), which is practically small enough to fit through the belts loops of my old JNCO jeans. The single stitching looks super sharp, as does the Hookgrip logo stamped in the back, which gives it a more premium flair than competing belts.
Speaking of which, at $70 the Hookgrip Russian Weightlifting belt is far less expensive than it looks. It felt instantly comfortable as I transitioned from squats to overhead presses to deadlifts, with just the right amount of support around my waist. Granted, since my NYC apartment isn’t an Olympic gym, I wasn’t putting up crazy amounts of weight — just enough to activate my core and put these belts to work. (See below for my full testing methodology.)
Designed to be flexible yet uber-strong, the Dark Iron Fitness Weightlifting Belt is ideal for all kinds of strength training. USAPL certified for both male and female athletes, these belts are constructed from premium buffalo hide leather that won’t break, tear under pressure, or wear out leading up to the big competition. That checks off all the right boxes so far.
Going for the gold? Dark Iron Fitness belts have a 600-pound weight limit and generous 4-inch width; 4 millimeters of thickness keeps your core tight while providing just the right level of comfort and support. The company claims their belts could potentially add 10 percent of power to your lifts, eliminating potential back pain in the process. (As long as you put in the work, that is.)
The Dark Iron Fitness Weightlifting Belt might be the same width as the Ohio Rogue, but at just 4mm thick, it’s got roughly half the bulk, and from my perspective, half the stiffness right out of the gate. I like the double stitching, too, and the double-pronged buckle stayed nice and snug throughout each exercise. It never felt like the belt was going to slip whatsoever, though the leather’s edges dug into my skin a bit during squats. Leather takes a while to become fully pliable, but by the time I’d finished my third set of squats, the reinforced construction already felt broken in.
And let’s not forget about the price. Premium belts can cost upwards of $100, but at just $36, the Dark Iron Fitness Weightlifting Belt represents a solid value, to boot.
While many of the best weightlifting belts feature leather-and-steel construction, you’ll often pay upwards of $100 for such premium materials. Gym safety doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, though, and the Harbinger 4-inch Nylon Weightlifting belt is perfect for non-professional athletes who are just looking for more support and stabilization in their gym routine. (Without getting any cows involved.)
You won’t find many powerlifters or Olympic competitors wearing nylon belts, but for semi-slackers like myself, there’s a lot to like about going synthetic. For one, leather isn’t on everyone’s short list, and you’ll get plenty of core support from manmade materials. In Harbinger’s case, a durable 346-count nylon web flexes around your waist for maximum comfort, and the heavy gauge steel buckle is easy to adjust for a custom fit. In short, Harbinger keeps things pretty simple, and for less than $30, this weightlifting belt should get the job done for most gym-goers.
The uniform 4-inch width is adjustable via the 3-inch support strap, which seals the deal with Velcro and a roller buckle, as opposed to a traditional pronged design. The former is more customizable, and the nylon was marginally more flexible than the leather competitors I tested.
While I appreciated the Hookgrip belt for its general comfort and support, Harbinger’s nylon construction definitely allowed for more movement during my testing, especially since it’s easier to adjust the latter belt on the fly. For the casual athlete, this weightlifting belt might be all you need. Especially at this price.
Whereas the weightlifting belts above are all about back support, the DMoose Dip Belt was designed to help you push through even the most beastly of (upper) bodybuilding barriers. If you’re not familiar with dip belts, here’s how they work: you wrap the strap loosely around your torso, attach a nearby dumbbell or weight plate to the built-in chain — allowing it to dangle squarely between your legs — and voila! You’ve just added a bunch of dynamic resistance to your previously-boring pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, and sumo squats. You’re welcome in advance.
Constructed from sweat-resistant neoprene that’s held together with secure saddle stitching, the DMoose Dip Belt is six inches wide in the middle, which adds plenty of extra padding for your lower lumbar as you raise and lower your body. Dip belts are an understated workout tool for any home gym, though they require a power tower of some kind for most exercises; they’re great for increasing stamina, endurance, and overall gains. (Heck, when utilized correctly, the DMoose Dip Belt can even be used to improve your posture.
To get a feel for the DMoose Dip Belt, I used it to perform several sets of weighted dips on my home gym power tower, increasing the weight incrementally as I went. The thick neoprene padding felt comfortable against my lumbar as I powered through each set, with the extra weight dangling securely between my legs. I nearly forgot how much harder dip belts make you work by adding just a few extra pounds to your frame; they sure change the game for any bodyweight exercises you’re usually into. The carabiners on each end of the chain look a little flimsy, but that’s an easy upgrade if you want to replace them.
How we tested the best weightlifting belts
Full disclosure: I’m not a powerlifter or bodybuilder, nor do I aspire to be one. That being said, I’ve been pumping iron on-and-off since the age of 16, and I’m plenty familiar with all the Olympic-style exercises that may (or may not) require a weightlifting belt. Back in my collegiate heyday when I was bench-pressing 275+ pounds and shrugging 500+ pounds for absolutely no reason at all, I’d use a weightlifting belt as needed, depending on the exercise. (Read: I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.) But over the years I’ve exchanged brute force for holistic health in terms of overall muscle symmetry.
I reviewed the Tempo Studio last year, so I happened to have a 25-pound barbell handy. To put these weightlifting belts through their paces, I created a control workout consisting of three different barbell exercises — squats, overhead press, and deadlifts. I used just enough weight to wake up my muscles and activate my core, forcing each belt to support my lower back (to some degree) as I progressed. Mind you, it takes a while to break in a brand-new leather belt, but a good one should be comfortable almost immediately. After a 10-minute jog to get the blood pumping, I was ready to rock.
- Set #1: 65 pounds (15 reps)
- Set #2: 85 pounds (10 reps)
- Set #3: 105 pounds (5 reps)
- Set #1: 55 pounds (15 reps)
- Set #2: 65 pounds (10 reps)
- Set #3: 85 pounds (5 reps)
- Set #1: 85 pounds (15 reps)
- Set #2: 105 pounds (10 reps)
- Set #3: 105 pounds (10 reps)
To test dip belts, I performed three sets of weighted dips on my power tower.
- Set #1: 5 pounds (15 reps)
- Set #2: 10 pounds (10 reps)
- Set #3: 15 pounds (5 reps)
As I tested each weightlifting belt, I was looking for comfortable/durable construction, high-quality stitching, strong buckles, and excellent core support. Oh, and a decent price.
How to choose the best weightlifting belt for you
As mentioned above, weightlifting belts can be an semi-extraneous gym accessory for the average gym member, depending on your fitness hustle. There are a variety of things to consider before buying a belt:
Do you actually need a weightlifting belt?
If you’re an aspiring powerlifter or bodybuilder of any kind, the answer is a resounding “yes.” As you accomplish heavier and heavier lifts, you’ll absolutely need a weightlifting belt to provide extra core support as you bang out those last soul-sucking reps. For more casual athletes, however, this is a highly subjective question based on your personal physiology and specific fitness discipline/s. Long-story-long, the combination of intra-abdominal pressure and increased back support can boost your overall core stability, leading to heavier lifts. If that’s what you’re going for.
Wearing a weightlifting belt all the time is hardly a healthy practice, though, since it prevents you from performing certain movements that fully engage the core. (Have you ever seen someone wear a belt during their entire two-hour workout? That’s not exactly ideal.) It’s a topic that’s up for debate, to some degree, but if you don’t perform Olympic-style lifts on the regular, you probably don’t need a belt, unless you want/need the extra back support from time to time.
What kind of belt should you consider?
Weightlifting belts generally fall into three major categories. Powerlifting belts have a uniform width all the way around (typically measuring 10 millimeters thick and 4 inches wide), and are favored by powerlifters and strongmen. Bodybuilding belts are meant for Olympic lifters and recreational athletes; the tapered width narrows around the waist, with thicker posterior sections that follow the torso’s natural curvature. Velcro belts are made from synthetic materials that result in less intra-abdominal pressure when compared to bodybuilding and powerlifting belts.
If you can, take a trip to your local sporting goods store to test out which style of belt is most comfortable for you. Every body is different, and every fitness journey is unique.
What kind of fastening mechanisms are available?
Be it buckle, lever, or Velcro, your locking mechanism of choice mostly comes down to personal preference, though some fasteners have a quicker release than others. Just make sure everything clicks, slides, or locks securely in place when you strap the belt on.
What belt material should you choose?
Powerlifting purists may prefer a traditional leather belt, but there are plenty of nylon-based options that get the job done just as well. Leather is stronger and tends to hold up longer over time (with proper upkeep), while nylon is far easier to break in right from the get-go.
What’s your budget like?
While many premium weightlifting belts cost upwards of $100, you can pick up a decent one for less than $50. Just remember: you get what you pay for. You don’t need a weight belt for the best beginner HIIT workouts.