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The Pioneer Cut Belt is the best weightlifting belt for most people and is also Pioneer’s most popular belt. It’s made in the USA of 100% vegetable tanned sole leather, uses a suede liner for comfort, and a high-end roller buckle and prong. They’re made to last and are priced appropriately for the quality (they’re not cheap, but certainly not overpriced) and designed for the main barbell lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift.
We recommend the Pioneer Cut (although you would be well off choosing any of their models, although we prefer SBD’s lever system) to most people because it allows adjustments in 0.5” increments instead of the typical 1” increments found with most single prong buckle belts. The 8.5MM thickness is what we recommend as it’s thick enough to provide support, but not so stiff that it will feel uncomfortable like many 13MM belts do out of the box (although if you’re powerlifting, you may want a thicker belt.)
If you primarily train for CrossFit or compete in Olympic Weightlifting and want a nylon, velcro lifting belt, the Rogue USA Nylon Lifting Belt is the best option we’ve used. There are a myriad of nylon belts on the market, but most use cheap materials that end up breaking down, coming unglued or stitched, and end up not getting used. Rogue has been selling weightlifting belts for over a decade and this is, in my opinion, the first nylon belt that is superior to the competition. It’s made in the USA, uses a thin, but comfortably firm foam, yet makes you feel stable when squatting, and the slight taper from front to back feels just right. If you’re on a budget and need a belt, this is a tremendous option.
For powerlifters, the SBD 13MM Lever Belt is our favorite lever belt on the market. The belt itself is thick and uses great materials, but what separates the belt from the competition is the lever that is the easiest to adjust on the market, by far.
We’ve used the SBD Lever Belt for over two years now and although it took a few months to fully break-in, we’re glad we took the time to do so as it’s now the belt we use most often for squatting. It is expensive (to be honest, it’s too expensive, but they own the patent on the lever system,) but we have yet to find a power belt that adjusts as quickly and feels as stable while lifting as the SBD Lever Belt. If you have the money to spend and want the best, this is what we recommend.
For a deadlift specific belt, we recommend a 3” width backing and prefer the Dominion Strength 3” Deadlift Belt. Dominion Strength belts are made in the USA and after using this belt for over two years, we recommend it to anyone wanting a deadlift-specific belt. The thinner width prevents as much discomfort in your waist when bending over for a heavy pull, yet still provides something to brace against. We like the look and feel of the suede and find ourselves reaching for the belt nearly every deadlift session.
Is a lifting belt required to be worn during any sort of weight training? Of course not. In fact, I wouldn’t even consider it a necessity. However, it can be helpful.
Most people who are just getting started in any sort of weightlifting, be that powerlifting, CrossFit, Oly, or any of the other myriad of training types assume that wearing a weightlifting belt will allow the trainee to lift more weight. The reality is that a weightlifting belt will not suddenly allow you to lift more weight. As with many ideas in training, this is a very simplified idea.
People also assume that using a belt protects your lower back and although this is somewhat correct, it’s not entirely. What a belt actually does is allow something to brace your trunk/core against. As Mark Rippetoe has explained multiple times, a weightlifting belt is more of a cue to that you should tighten your core and therefore is an indirect support to your lifts.
So, the simple answer to this question is that a weightlifting belt will remind you to engage your core, give you something to brace against, and therefore provide more protection to your body while lifting, not by the belt itself, but because it’s reminding you to use your musculature.
This category has as many different products as any Round-Up we’ve done yet. Our guide to the Best Barbell was tough, but this one may have been more difficult as it seems everyone and their mother is making (or importing) some sort of belt.
As usual, we started by simply scouring the internet and trying to compile a list of every belt in an Excel spreadsheet. Here’s a small portion:
In addition to relying on Google for help, we also reviewed what had been written on the home gym subreddit, asked for opinions from our Home Gym Community Facebook Group (30K strong as of this writing) as well as consulting with some of the strongest people in the world to get their opinion on the best weightlifting belt they’ve ever used.
Once we got a lay of the land, we took stock of what we already had on hand (nearly 20 different belts) and ordered others that we felt were needed for the comparison.
After reviewing gym equipment for nearly a decade now I can typically tell the quality of a product just by its webpage. I can also tell if it’s simply a white-labeled belt. This happens a lot in this industry and especially with weightlifting belts as they’re rather simple products. Many of the belts you see on Amazon are made in the same factories with the same materials and the biggest differences between them are their cost and the logo on the tag. This isn’t exclusive to Amazon though. Some big names in the industry will use the same belts and manufacturers as others you see hoping that their name is popular enough to garner sales (and this method typically works.)
After gathering the belts, we nailed down the specifications that make a good weightlifting belt to the following list (in no particular order):
Materials Used: Leather isn’t the best material to use in every situation. There are other materials worth considering, however, if leather is used, cheap fillers like robus leather which is a stiffening agent is neither desired or recommended.
Belt Thickness: We’re less concerned with the stated thickness of the belt and more concerned with how the actual thickness of the belt lines up with what is stated. We’ve seen many belts list a thickness in millimeters and the actual belt that’s received is much thicker.
Stitching/Glueing: The layers of the belt should, in most cases, be stitched when using leather. The more stitches, the better (up to a certain point) and glue will typically be used to prevent bubbling between the layers. The stitching itself should overlap to prevent the stitching from coming undone.
Buckle System: If a buckle and prong system is used, a roller buckle is ideal for allowing the tongue of the belt to easily slide in and out of the buckle and a seamless roller buckle is best of all.
Hardware Finish: To prevent corrosion (especially for home gym owners) belts will use stainless steel or some sort of finished hardware, be this zinc, chrome, or other.
Customization Options: Can the belts be customized? If so, to what level and at what cost? What colors are available standard? These sorts of things are very popular today and do matter to many.
Lever System: If the belt uses a lever system, how hard is it to secure as well as adjust between users/fluctuations in body weight.
Flap Security: The piece of the belt that wraps around and has a prong inserted should be secured using rivets. This is the most secure system we’ve seen and it will prevent premature breaking of the belt.
Edge Work: Are the edges of the leather skived and dressed or are they just left with a sharp edge and no dressing to prevent separation?
Break-In Period: How long does it take to break in the belt/does it ever actually break-in?
Price: Does the cost of the belt line up with its features and quality? We don’t mind recommending a more expensive belt if the quality matches the price point. However, eventually, it becomes difficult to do so no matter how good a belt is if it’s extremely expensive.
Warranty: What’s the length of the warranty on the belt? Are there so many stipulations that it’s not even worth sending in for a warranty? Will the company be around for your lifetime to service the warranty?
During testing of the belts, we smashed, beat, and threw the belts to simulate how they would be treated over time after big lifts and in gym bags. In addition, we used them for the typical belted lifts like heavy deadlifts and squats, clean and jerks and snatches and for general comfort while being worn. We measured them for thickness and width accuracy and left them at the training studio so others could try them and give their opinion on the belts.
The Pioneer Cut Power Belt by Pioneer Fitness (a division of General Leathercraft Manufacturing) is the latest advancement in the prong style of power belts and is our Top Pick for the Best Weightlifting Belt for Most People.
There has been no other belt that I’ve tested that had as good of a first impression as Pioneer Belts. The craftsmanship and materials used in these belts is outstanding and honestly was much better than I expected despite being told by friends like Brandon Campbell Diamond just how good they are. Everything from the materials used to the customization options are top-notch.
Although we think Pioneer is making the best weight belts on the market, there is one design in particular that we think is the best for most people due to its price point and features and that is the Pioneer Cut.
The Pioneer Cut from Pioneer is our favorite belt as it’s just as good as all of Pioneer’s other belts, but it also has a unique feature that allows for precise ½” increments to tighten the belt. Most prong belts adjust only in 1” increments, which often feels either too much or too little. The Pioneer Cut is stated to be a patent-pending design by powerlifter Steve Strohm who we’ve talked to via Instagram. It’s nice having a belt designed by someone who has actually spent some time underneath a barbell, as they will perhaps have a better concept of realizing the nuances of what makes a good power belt indeed good. There’s no doubt that the person who came up with the idea is someone who could use it.
Pioneer has many different belts with varying thicknesses and widths, but we suggest most people use either 8.5MM or 10MM. If you’re competing in powerlifting meets or just want a stiffer belt, then you can go up to 13MM, but we think the additional break-in time is unnecessary for most people just training for health and general strength.
The belt utilizes a seamless roller buckle with a single prong, with nickel-plated rivets to hold the buck system together. One cool feature we noticed is that leather at the buckle end is nicely tapered down so it's not overly thick at the loop.
In comparison to other power belts, the Pioneer belts taper down the leather much more cleanly. The leather Pioneer uses is one solid piece of what is called sole bend leather that can be sandwiched by two pieces of suede if desired, although suede is more for comfort and looks than anything. All layers are glued and sewn together. Sole bend leather is some of the best quality of leather you can find. Sole leather is cut from the best portion of steer hides (below the shoulder and along the back ends and side of the steer’s spine) and is firm, thick, and strong. Outside of some high-end weightlifting belts, sole bend leather can commonly be found in high-quality shoes and boots.
You can tell they spend extra time sanding down the leather at the edges so that it results in a smooth and consistent appearance. The edges are then dressed and finished black which gives the belt a professional look.
To top it off, the Pioneer Cut Powerlifting Belt also comes with a lifetime warranty and is made entirely here in the U.S.A at their shop in Texas. They also offer a discount for military and first responders if you ask them for one. Breaking a belt in like this does take some time. One way to speed this process up is by rolling it up into a circle one way, massaging it back and forth, and then rolling it up into a circle the other way and repeating. This is not a one-time process and will need to be repeated multiple times in the beginning, but eventually, the belt will fit your torso like your favorite baseball glove would your hand.
Of all the power belts and weightlifting belts on the market, a 4” Pioneer Cut Belt is our recommendation for most people. They’re offering the best combination of features and quality at a good price. Not to mention, if you want something custom, they can do pretty much anything you’d ever want.
Although we think most people are best suited with a leather power belt, if you train for CrossFit, Olympic Weightlifting, or just want a belt with less support, then the Rogue USA Nylon Lifting Belt is your best bet.
Rogue has quite a few different velcro training belts (we’ve used most of them,) but the USA Nylon Lifting Belt is an improvement upon all the previous versions with more refinement, better features, and cool color options. Although aesthetics shouldn’t’ be the primary reason to buy a weight belt, it does play a factor in people’s decisions and having options for different preferences is nice.
This belt, although designed by Rogue who are the Official Equipment Sponsors of the CrossFit Games was actually created in partnership with arguably the greatest CrossFit Athlete of all time, Mat Fraser (obviously this is a toss-up with Rich Froning; both are home gym owners, by the way.)
Here’s something to understand, as much as I like the USA Nylon Lifting Belt, it’s nearly the exact same (except for some aesthetic details) as the Rogue 5” Nylon Weightlifting Belt. The difference is, as the name suggests, the USA Nylon Lifting Belt from Rogue Fitness is made in the US. However, you’re going to pay about double for that and some of the other features. Personally, I prefer the USA Nylon Belt and I think most others do as well, but if you just want a great belt at the lowest cost, get the imported one as it’s still a great option.
Beyond the cool aesthetic features like the ironed-on logo, cool colors like camo, and a spot to add velcro patches, the belt is simply well-built. We’ve been using one at the gym ever since it came out which is over a year now and it still looks like new except instead of laying flat, it’s been broken in and stays curved even when not in use.
The roller buckle isn’t seamless, but it does have one and the buckle is smooth. The frame uses .25” or a bit over 6MM thick foam that is firm, but comfortable. Due to the thickness of the foam, the belt is extremely lightweight. If it weren’t for the metal buckle, it would feel like a feather.
The back of the belt is 5” and tapers down to 4” in the front to prevent discomfort in the abs/core area when bending down for deadlifts or snatches. The foam is naturally flexible, so regardless of the thickness it will feel much better than leather.
The other nylon belt worth considering that is this style is the Schiek 2004 Nylon Weightlifting Belt. There are many who prefer this belt, in fact, Tia Toomey, the 4x CrossFit Games Champion on the women’s side uses this belt despite being a Rogue-sponsored athlete. However, this belt is one we’ve that people either love or hate due to it’s unique shape.
If you’re training for CrossFit with high-reps and constant adjustment of the belt, then a velcro is definitely your best option and this is my pick. If you’re training for Olympic Weightlifting and don’t want to spend the money on a leather Oly belt or don’t like the way they feel, then the Rogue USA Nylon Lifting Belt would also be a recommendation I’d give. However, if you’re a powerlifter or not doing many of the classic lifts like clean and jerks or snatches, then go with one of our other picks.
The SBD Belt is by far the most expensive belt on our list and quite possibly the most expensive anywhere. It is an absolute beast of a belt and is used by some of the strongest people on the planet, including powerlifting great and world record holder Ray Williams.
If you’re a powerlifter lifting heavyweight and want the best lever system that’s currently available and don’t mind paying (too much, in my opinion) for a belt, then the SBD Belt is your best bet.
SBD manufactures their belts and sleeves in Great Britain using a combination of genuine English leather and hardened aluminum alloy to make a belt that is equally appealing to the eye and functional. It is the IPF and USAPL maximum of 13 millimeters thick and 10 centimeters wide.
To say the SBD Belt is stiff would be an understatement. I’ve never used a belt that took as long as this one to break in. Even after two years of constant use, it still feels a bit stiff.
The leather for the belt is treated for five months to achieve the ideal hardness, longevity, and durability before its three layers are pressed and double stitched together. It is then coated with a smooth black oil finish. The finish gives the belt a sleek look while also allowing it to be easily cleaned, helping the belt continue to look like new, even after repetitive use and abuse.
Although the belt itself is pretty special, the standout feature is SBD’s patented buckle system. The buckle combines the ease of use and stability of a lever with the adjustability of a prong buckle. The buckle is made with hardened aluminum alloy to keep it light but still very durable. It is then given a smooth powder coating before the logo is diamond cut to give a smooth, clean look. The buckle features four prongs, the front two of which have an oval lip to give a firm lock into the cutouts. There are also 10 pairs of holes that allow for the easier adjustment that has previously only been seen in prong belts.
During our testing of the SBD belt, we were more than pleased with the performance. The belt is incredibly stable, easy to use, and easy to adjust.There was never a question of stability with the belt. As is to be expected with a belt of this caliber and thickness, there was absolutely no give while bracing. The width of the belt also gave a large surface area to push against, allowing for even greater abdominal pressure and stability.
The lever not only keeps the belt tight and secure, but it is very quick and easy to take on and off. We had three guys with different waist sizes using the belt and we could quickly and easily swap while being able to adjust it to fit each of us perfectly. No other lever belt on the market allows for this kind of ease of adjustment.
The biggest downside to the SBD Belt is how long it takes to break-in. We have yet to use a belt as stiff as the SBD, which for some is great, for others, it’s annoying to wait so long to have a belt ready to use.
If you’re in the market for a lever belt and don’t mind spending the money, the SBD Belt is the best lever weightlifting belt on the market. Bar none.
Although there isn’t necessarily a specific belt that is called a “deadlift belt,” pretty much all belts that are between two and three inches are considered deadlift belts. The reason they’re deadlift belts is because they are more comfortable to use when bending down to pick up a barbell during deadlifts.
At 3" in width, the Dominion Strength 3” Leather Deadlift Belt is different from what most people are used to in a power belt. The traditional Powerlifting Belt is 4" wide and has been for as far as I can find.
I hadn't ever considered using a 3" belt until I read Mark Rippetoe's article titled, "The Belt and the Deadlift."As Rip tends to, he gave his recommendation quite clearly, "Most people have no business wearing a 4-inch power belt for the deadlift. Unless you’re tall or long-waisted, a 4-inch-wide standard power belt is too wide to permit a correct lumbar position at the start of a correct deadlift."The reason a 3" power belt is superior to a 4" belt for most people is that the wider belt prevents most people from being able to get into the correct position for pulling.
I hadn't thought much about it until giving the Dominion Strength 3" belt a shot, and have since used it for all of my deadlift sets where a belt is worn. On the flip side, my training partner who is taller and has a longer torso feels like it's too thin and cuts into his rib cage. To each their own
The build quality of the Dominion Strength Power Belt is as good as any I've used. It's not a super innovative belt like the Pioneer Cut or the SBD Belt Lever System on our list, but it’s combination of great materials at a great price while being made in the USA make it a belt that should be around for a long time.
The belt is 10mm thick which provides great support without being overly stiff. 10mm is a sweet spot I've found for having a belt that breaks in pretty quickly, yet doesn't break down quickly over time. The belt utilizes a seamless roller buckle with a single prong, unlike some cheaper belts with shoddy materials and either no rollers or rollers that end up coming undone.
The edges of the belt are rounded and skived which leads to a good-looking edge that feels comfortable on your torso. This particular belt utilizes suede leather, although they've recently partnered up with Starting Strength to offer single-ply belts that looks cool, but I prefer the suede.Finally, the belt features a burnt logo that's done by hand and looks really clean.
All in all, the Dominion Strength Belt is simple, which is why we like it so much. It doesn't try to do anything extra that's not needed, but does the basics really well. If you want a deadlift belt or just a thinner belt and want something different from the others on are list, then we suggest a belt from Dominion Strength.
Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt - The Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt is one of Rogue’s most popular belts and it even has good reviews. We’ve been using one for over three years now and although it still performs well, there are definitely some downsides to the belt versus the slightly more expensive versions made for Rogue Fitness by Pioneer. The leather is much more pliable and stretches over time, the edges are single stitched making them prone to breaking and there is no edge dressing which causes them to delaminate over time. This is a good belt, made in the USA, but it’s not at the level of their other belts, especially when you consider that for only a few bucks more you could get a belt that will last you the rest of your life.
Shiek 2004 Nylon Weight Lifting Belt: The Shiek 2004 Nylon Belt is one of the most popular belts that didn’t make our list. It’s a nylon belt that uses high-quality materials and a unique, patented shape. We like this belt quite a bit and there are many that prefer the wavy shape to the more straight shape found on typical belts. However, there were also quite a few people that absolutely hated the shape, so due to the mixed feelings of people regarding the design, we decided not to rank it higher. This said, in our testing, the velcro lasted as long as Rogue’s and the firm foam was supportive, but not overly stiff.
Inzer Forever Buckle Belt - Inzer has been around for, likely, longer than just about ever power belt manufacturer currently on the market. Inzer belts are great belts. I’ve had an Inzer Forever Buckle Belt that was passed down from my father to me for over a decade now. My father used the belt for two decades before me. This means, I still to this day use a 30-year-old belt and except for some minor abrasions and fading, it still works like it did when it was purchased. The reason Inzer belts didn’t beat out our top pick is because of some of the misinformation that don’t necessarily make the belt bad, but worse than the competition. For instance, they say the layers aren’t glued together, but they are.
Inzer Forever Lever Belt - These use the same leather construction as the buckle belts, but instead have a lever. The lever is a nice, chrome-plated lever, however, it isn’t adjustable like SBD’s which is why we’re not recommending it for most people. However, it is much cheaper.
Dark Iron Fitness Genuine Leather Weight Lifting Belt - This is one of the most popular belts for sale on Amazon and for practically just one reason, it’s price is very cheap. This is a white-labeled belt, meaning, there’s a company overseas that makes these belts and then allows companies to put their brand logo over the top. Dark Iron was one of the first to sell these and that’s the reason they’re popular. They’re fine if you just want something cheap, but they’re very thin, unsupportive, and are prone to breaking very quickly.
REP Fitness Premium Leather Lifting Belt - This is quite obviously a belt designed to compete with the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt. REP even includes a non-branded image of the Ohio Lifting Belt to show why they believe their belt is better. REP certainly did improve on many of the deficiencies in the Rogue belt such as edge dressing and double stitching, however, one reason Rogue prices there’s as they do is because it’s made in the USA of US materials. I’ll let you decide if that matters to you or not. Regardless, this is one of the better, lower priced belts available.
Best Belts Powerlifting Belts - Best Belts are indeed some of the best powerlifting belts that are available. They use great leather, suede, are IPF-approved, and they offer a lifetime warranty on every belt. These belts are honestly the best option outside of Pioneer Belts for powerlifting belts in my opinion. They’re outstanding belts that use great materials, are priced well, and are made in the USA.
Titan Support Brahma Power Belts - The Titan Brahma Belts are high quality, made in the USA belts that are very popular. They use good materials and offer customization options with their belts, although the lead times can get pretty long. They are triple-stitched and use two pieces of sole leather and two pieces of suede leather that are glued and stitched together. The biggest issue with the belts that we’ve heard from others is that they don’t meet federation specs, although their site says they’re IPF approved. We definitely like these belts, but we don’t think they’re better than our other picks at their price points.
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