Choosing the Right Belt for Powerlifting:
Assessing Top Options
Best Overall: Pioneer Cut
In my opinion, the Pioneer Cut belt is the best single powerlifting belt on the market right now.
All things considered: quality, durability, performance, and price point. It goes for about $125 (with the black leather option sitting below $100).
There are both leather and suede options for both with plenty of customization available (if you so desire).
What makes the Pioneer Cut unique is its patented 0.5” between holes configuration.
This allows the user to get the belt as tight as possible — if you so desire. I am a fan of tighter belts, and prong belts are generally easier to adjust…however…
Best Runner-Up: SBD Belt
The exception to that rule being the renowned SBD Belt.
With a gliding buckle technology, and a very luxurious feel — the SBD Belt offers lifters the adjustability of a prong belt with the ease of use of a lever belt.
It’s the best of both worlds!
However, that feature comes at the highest price point in the market. If you believe that feature is worth paying an extra $100 for — go for it.
With the SBD Belt, you’ll have most likely the best belt in the market when it comes to quality and technology.
However, said quality and technology does not mean more weight on the bar. And because there’s no difference in a $40 belt and $225 belt — I don’t believe that the quality of the product justifies the expense.
Best Budget Pick: Iron Bull
The Iron Bull Belt was my first belt ever. It’s a $40; 10-mm thick; leather belt that served me faithfully for years.
Don’t let the price tag fool you: I used this belt for thousands of reps with very heavy weights and they supported me all throughout.
It still hasn’t shown any signs of wear & tear after two years of ownership.
It’s a great leather belt for those who want a decent price tag for a good quality product that will serve as an introduction to the world of powerlifting belts.
You can’t go wrong here.
Alternative Prong Belt: Best Belts
The Prime Cut by Best Belts has been one of the preferred lifting belts for decades for many.
They’re arguably some of the most well-built & high-quality powerlifting belts you’ll ever come across.
A fine choice for anyone looking for a very high quality product for a great price.
The only caveat here being that Best Belts is not paying for the IPF’s fees anymore, so they’re not in the approved lift for IPF meets.
Otherwise, these are great belts for anyone looking for one of the top prong belts on the market.
Alternative Lever Belt: Inzer Forever
Speaking of legacy: the Inzer Forever Belt was for a long time the go-to powerlifting belts for all lifters.
For some, it still is. Similar to Best Belts, Inzer has been around for decades and they understand powerlifting belts at a visceral level.
This also is one of the most sought-after belts in the market and it has perhaps the best pricing of all products of its caliber.
The Inzer Forever Belt was only dethroned by the SBD Belt due to their gliding buckle feature, since the Forever Belt needs to be adjusted by unscrewing the buckle.
This can be a nuisance for some who find their waistline changing due to growth in muscle (or losses in weight). If you’re not the type of person who changes way in a dramatic fashion constantly, you’d be better off with this belt rather than the SBD.
Really — how often will you go up or down an inch in waist size?
If the answer to that question is “not very often”, then the Inzer Forever Belt is probably going to be your go-to choice for a strong & high-quality lever belt.
What You Need to Know About Your First Powerlifting Belt
Are you ready to maximize your potential as a powerlifter? Then you’ve likely considered purchasing a weightlifting belt. But are these belts just unnecessary accessories marketed towards novices, or are they a tool you shouldn’t join the gym without?
Here, we’ll assess the benefits of powerlifting belts while helping you choose the right model for your situation.
What Are Powerlifting Belts?
Powerlifting belts have a simple premise; they stiffen your back through each lifting movement to increase your intra-abdominal pressure. Likewise, these belts can prevent hyperextension during intense overhead lifts.
The idea is that this improved posture helps you lift more weight each session so that you get stronger over time. Belts for powerlifting can also reduce your risk of injury by restricting your ability to bend and twist sideways and potentially wrench your back.
You don’t need to wear a powerlifting belt for every set, but they offer real benefits during deadlifts and squats, and any activity where you are lifting 85% or more of your one-rep max.
So, who should use a weightlifting belt?
Most novice powerlifters will benefit from using one, starting within their first month of training. Not only does the belt offer better support as it strengthens underutilized muscles, but it serves as a reminder to maintain proper posture and squeeze your abdominals through each lift.
Note that these belts aren’t a substitute for core work—you still need to get in those crunches. Regardless, they offer real benefits to powerlifters who want to perfect their craft and get to the next level of training.
Keep reading to learn the differences between five popular brands of belts used for powerlifting.
Pioneer Cut Belt
Pioneer Cut belts boast classy design and offer options for customization rarely found in other brands. A strong social media presence makes them one of the most popular brands of weightlifting belts available.
You can choose between 10mm and 13mm thicknesses, and the belts include a patent-pending configuration of holes spaced half an inch apart diagonally instead of the standard one-inch spacing. This means you can get the tightest fit possible and continue to adjust it if your weight fluctuates.
Though the leather looks great from day one, it might take a while to break in fully. Expect a little stiffness and discomfort for the first few lifting sessions.
Listed Price: $144-$149
SBD Lever Belt Review
You can fully customize your powerlifting belt fit with the SBD Lever Belt. This design includes a patent-pending buckle that combines the gliding lever action and precise adjustability of a prong belt with the convenience of a lever belt.
It comes in a standard 13mm thickness and is 4cmm wide, making it an IPF-approved choice. In fact, SBD is considered the go-to brand for world champion powerlifters, and you can usually see it as a sponsor at major events.
However, the higher cost means that you’re paying in part for brand recognition. This is one of the most expensive powerlifting belts available, and other options (like the Pioneer) will give you the same tightness and performance.
Listed Price: $227.50
Inzer Forever Belt
For those looking for a cost-effective option, the Inzer Forever powerlifting belt comes in at just 40% the cost of SBD belts. You can choose between 10mm and 13mm thickness options and can select between a range of color and fastening options, including lever, single prong, and double prong.
Despite the price, these belts are considered a stellar investment. They are renowned for their durability and are the first choice for thousands of professional powerlifters and record breakers.
Saying that, some people might object to the combination of suede and nylon stitching. You also have fewer options for adjusting the fit to your specific preferences.
Listed Price: $97
Best Belts have been helping powerlifters reach their potential for over three decades and have collected many passionate fans in the process.
Many love that they require minimal breaking in before focused use and are offered in both 10mm and 13mm thicknesses. You can also size the belt to ensure that the clasp hole you use most often is in the middle for a secure fit. Others might find it frustrating that they only come in suede and don’t have a lever clasp system.
One thing to note is that Best Belts aren’t IPF-approved. This isn’t a comment on their quality, but rather is because the brand doesn’t want to pay the necessary approval fees.
Listed Price: $120
ROGUE Powerlifting Belt
For powerlifters who want the best of all worlds, Rogue Belts offer a mid-range pricing option that is still considered a high-quality product. Each belt is made in the US with American leather, and you can choose either a single-prong clasp or upgrade to a lever system for $20 more.
Though Rogue is a respected brand overall that has many loyal fans, there’s little about these belts to separate them from the competition. They will work as described but aren’t likely to earn you any extra cred at the gym. They are also only offered in 13mm thickness.
Listed Price: $123-$145
Should You Choose A Leather or Suede Belt?
One big decision all powerlifters need to make is whether to commit to a leather or suede belt. This decision comes down both to your price point and your time frame.
You’ll usually save money going with a leather belt, but the material tends to be stiffer and will take longer to break in. This can lead to back irritation and even chaffing, which is the last thing you want to think about when pushing for a personal lifting record.
Suede belts, in contrast, tend to break in faster due to the material’s more supple nature. They also usually come in more customization options, especially regarding color and clasp style. You will usually need to pay more per belt, though. And in the long run, suede powerlifting belts don’t differ much from leather belts from a functionality standpoint.
Some people might find that the clasp holes of their leather belts get slightly stretched out over time compared to suede, but this is a relatively minor problem, and you can always move to the next hole.
Regardless of which powerlifting belt you choose, make sure you treat it right so that it lasts for the long run. Wipe down the material after every workout to remove any lingering sweat, and consider occasional treatments with a leather cleaner to keep it from getting stiff.
With the right care, your weightlifting belt will benefit your powerlifting sessions for years to come.
What Kinds of Belts Are BEST for Squats?
Because Squats don’t require any bending over, and you’re generally more upright — 13-mm belts will work for just about everyone.
For some people with shorter torsos, the thicker belts will restrict their range of motion on the deadlift. This is rarely the case with Squats.
And although the extra 3 millimeters might seem a bit trivial to some, I’ve found that they actually do add a little extra support. Even if purely mental.
Other components of the belt will be more related to personal preference such as tightness, and whether you want a lever or prong belt.
Should I Get A Lever Belt Or A Prong Belt?
Prong belts and lever belts don’t offer much to the lifter in terms of weight on the bar.
Some might say that wearing an ultra tight prong belt might help them get more of the ‘squeeze’. I tend to be in that camp.
Some might find prong belts too fastidious when it comes to taking it off. I’ve also experienced this.
Really, it’s a matter of personal preference. Prong belts can be tightened and adjusted more easily than lever belts.
Lever belts are easier to take on and off. Some people even associate the flicker of the lever as a “finished off a great set” type of deal.
The same way b-ball players have signature “three-pt shot celebrations”.
Ultimately, it doesn’t make much difference in terms of weight lifted.
When Should You Get A Powerlifting Belt?
At any point you desire.
Belts do primarily one thing: they stiffen the back segment and prevent it from moving under heavy loads.
This stability combined with the increased abdominal pressure from the belt, and a properly executed valsalva will generally help lifters add an additional 5-10% to the bar.
And that’s what they’re mainly used for: to add more weight to the bar in pursuit of a bigger total.
They don’t prevent injury or negate the “core” muscles.
You won’t be any stronger if you train with or without a belt. Strength is generally a byproduct of hypertrophy (muscle mass) which is unrelated to training with or without a belt.
Get a belt if you plan on competing and want to go for max weights (or if that’s fun to you) — or don’t if it’s not in your plans to do so.