BarBend HQ has been on a quest to find the best lifting belt for every type of strength athlete. Our mission through multiple sweaty – often heavy – gym sessions was to provide you with direction when choosing the best lifting belt for your needs. The perfect belt for you will be tailored to your lifting style, goals, sport, budget, and comfort preferences.
After every gym session, we’re just like you. We’re strength athletes asking the question, what’s the best lifting belt? We’re continually building our belt arsenal and putting more products to the test. We’ve now reviewed and tested dozens of belts with our favorites listed below. We looked for the best lifting belts in five different categories, then provided a descriptive analysis behind why we chose each included in the lists below.
- Best Lifting Belt For Functional Fitness Workouts (and Our Favorite for CrossFit® Workouts): Schiek Model 2004 Lifting Belt
- Best Belt For Weightifting: Eleiko Olympic Weightlifting Belt
- Best Belt For Squats: Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt
- Best Belt For Deadlifts: Rogue Ohio Leather Lifting Belt
- Best Value Lifting Belt For the Money: Harbinger 4″ Nylon Belt
No matter your strength sport or strength level, this is your definitive guide to finding your perfect belt.
Why Lifting Belts?
A belt is a useful piece of equipment to keep in your supportive strength arsenal. Belts are primarily used to prevent injury and support the torso during heavier movements. The use of a belt can provide a strength athlete with extra support around the torso to increase a lift’s safety.
Every strength athlete can benefit from choosing a belt that’s catered specifically for their sport. A powerlifter and strongman athlete often want a cylinder styled belt, which is a belt that wraps around the torso equally.This type of athlete will typically want a stiffer, or more rigid belt for strength movements, as they’re often pressing, squatting, and deadlifting.
An Olympic lifter needs a belt that provides support, but also versatility. The typical Olympic belt usually comes contoured, so the posterior is thicker in width than the front of the belt. The stiffness and material of this athlete’s belt usually comes down to personal preference, as this athlete is performing power movements often.
The recreational and functional fitness athlete will often want a belt that provides support, comfort, and versatility. Since these athletes perform multiple movements during a single workout, then they need a belt that holds up well with power and strength exercises.
Different Types of Belt Designs
There are multiples types of belt designs, but from our tests and reviews every belt can technically fall into three major categories: cylinder, contoured, and cone. Each belt has different design attributes to benefit certain types of strength athlete.
This style belt is the same width at every part and covers the torso equally. Belts like the Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt and the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt are perfect examples of this belt design. They are designed to support the back, abdomen, and sides evenly with the same amount of material. Powerlifters and strongman athletes typically sway towards these belts.
Nylon belts also come in this design and provide a little more versatility for the functional fitness athlete or recreational lifter. The Harbinger 4″ Nylon Belt and the Rogue 4″ Nylon Belt are an equal width of 4″ all the way around, but have versatility, as they don’t contain rigid leather.
This belt is often favored by Olympic lifters and recreational athletes because it provides the posterior with extra width, but thins out towards the abdomen. The skinnier portion over the abdomen allows the torso to remain mobile while providing support. The Eleiko Olympic Weightlifting Belt is the perfect example of this style belt and is actually the belt most associated with Olympic weightlifting.
Another belt that offers the same contoured make is the Unbroken Designs Stars and Stripes 4″ Leather Lifting Belt. This belt has the contoured design, but has a softer internal lining. A standard, or more basic version of this belt is the Harbinger 4″ Padded Lifting Belt.
This design is possibly the most rarely seen. These belts are contoured on the sides, but offer a thicker posterior and anterior section. In theory, their design is supposed to follow the natural curvature of the torso. The Schiek Model 2004 Lifting Belt utilized this type of belt design to create a versatile, yet supportive belt. A stiffer, or more rigid example of this belt would be the Schiek Model L2004 Leather Lifting Belt.
Multiple Types of Material
When it comes to belt material there are two main choices: leather and nylon. It may seem like there are more types of material, but for the most part every belt starts with a leather or nylon base.
The type of leather a belt uses will often correlate with how stiff or rigid it is. Leather belts will last longer than their nylon counterparts. Almost every leather belt is tanned and oiled, much like the Harbinger 4″ Classic Oiled Leather Lifting Belt. The way a belt is tanned and oiled can help you predict how high of a quality the belt is. Some belts contain a specific tanning method, like the vegetable tanning process the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt has.
In terms of leather stiffness, suede belts are often on the stiffer side, which is what the Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt uses. There are also softer types of leather belts that bend and hug the waist, which are good for functional fitness styled workouts. An example of this belt would be the Unbroken Designs Stars and Stripes 4″ Leather Lifting Belt.
This type of belt typically isn’t known for how stiff it is, but more so for the comfort and versatility it provides. The stiffness of this belt relies on whether the belt has added inserts or has extra width. The Harbinger Contoured FlexFit Lifting Belt has a 6″ width and added kidney pockets, which are made to provide the kidney areas of the torso more support. Another example of a belt that has added lumbar inserts is the Schiek Model 2004 Lifting Belt.
Some nylon belts don’t contain extra inserts, but have extra width for torso support. The Harbinger 5″ Foam Core Lifting Belt provides an extra inch of thickness with a soft comfortable feeling.
Best Belt For Functional Fitness Athletes (And Our Favorites for CrossFit® Athletes)
Our favorite belt for functional fitness, metcon, and CrossFit®-style WODs was the Schiek Model 2004 Lifting Belt. Belts that are great for functional fitness workouts need to possess two things and these are: stability and versatility.
To test a belt’s ability to perform well in WODs and metcon styled workouts, we utilize power and strength movements. Some of the lifts we utilized are the power clean, deadlift, front squat, back squat, and overhead press. These movements are put back to back and rely on time in some workouts.
We look for three different things when testing a belt’s ability to perform in a functional fitness setting. First and most importantly, the stability a belt provides. A belt is worn for its stability, so we watch how the torso is supported through the variety of movements chosen. Second, a belt’s versatility. We watch for mobility issues and times when a belt limits someone’s mobility. Third, comfort and ease of use. This point is essential for testing how quickly you can adjust a belt in-between sets and how it leaves your torso feeling after a workout.
The Schiek Model 2004 Lifting Belt was our top choice for functional fitness workouts. This belt has a cone shaped design, so it hugs the body well and has added lumber inserts. In addition, there’s two velcro strips to provide a firm, stable hold. This belt was a little tougher to adjust quickly, but the stability and versatility greatly make up for this aspect.
The Harbinger 5″ Foam Core Belt is another belt that’s a good choice for WODs and metcons. This belt provides an extra inch of support and has a 3″ wide velcro strap, which provided a good amount of stability for the torso. The added foam core also makes the ease of this belt great for the newer lifter who’s just starting out with belt use.
The Unbroken Designs Stars and Stripes 4″ Leather Lifting Belt is also a good choice for functional fitness workouts, along with WODs. This is a leather contoured belt that has an added foam pad on the posterior. Also, the inner portion of this belt is made with a softer cloth, so the leather doesn’t beat up the skin when quickly adjusting the belt in-between sets.
The final belt that’s great for functional fitness style workouts is the Rogue 5″ Nylon Belt. This belt also comes in a 4″ model, so it’s up to your personal preference when deciding what level of support you want. The nylon is consistent throughout the whole belt with no added inserts, which gives this belt a versatile and supportive feeling.
Best Belt For Weightlifting
The best belt for weightlifting purposes is the Eleiko Olympic Weightlifting Belt. A belt that’s great for weightlifting provides posterior support and doesn’t limit mobility in any form of power based movements.
To test a belt’s ability to perform well for weightlifting we use a variety of movements, which include the front squat, power clean, power snatch, and overhead press. All of these movements are relevant to movements and lifts an Olympic lifter will be performing on a regular basis.
When using these movements to test a belt’s ability to be great for weightlifting we look for two things. The first aspect we look for is the belt’s ability to keep the torso stable in the catching and front rack position. A solid weightlifting belt will provide support and prevent the torso from excessively flexing and extending. The second aspect we look for is the belt’s ability to support range of motion and not limit it. A good weightlifting belt is often contoured to be made skinnier in the front, which allows a weightlifter more mobility when catching weight.
The Eleiko Olympic Weightlifting Belt is our favorite belt for weightlifting due to it’s rigid, but versatile design. This belt is often associated with Olympic lifting platforms and is already used by a plethora of weightlifters. There’s a posterior pad that adds comfort and allows you to pull the belt tight. The front has a double-prong stainless steel buckle for abdomen support with an added flap to keep metal off the skin.
Another belt that’s great for weightlifting is the Harbinger 4″ Nylon Belt. This belt is a simple nylon design and is made to hug the torso equally all the way around. The simple, light weight design with moderate support didn’t limit mobility. For this reason, this belt is a great fit for performing cleans and snatches without a bulky belt getting in the way.
The Harbinger 4″ Padded Core Lifting Belt is also a good fit for weightlifting. This belt has a similar design to the above Eleiko belt, but with a less rigid leather. The less stiff leather could be a good thing for lifters who want a versatile belt, but don’t want excessive rigidness. One thing to note, this belt doesn’t include a flap under the buckle like the Eleiko belt does.
The Schiek Model 2004 Lifting Belt is another good choice for a weightlifting belt. There’s a cone shape design that makes this belt different than most weightlifting styled belts. This cone shape design makes the abdomen section a little thicker and that may be preferred by some lifters who frequently lose lifts due to a collapsing torso.
Best Belt For Squats
Our favorite belt for squats is the Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt. A great squat belt will provide the torso with a strong rigid support and should prevent collapsing under heavy weight.
When we test a belt’s ability to perform well during squats we perform two different types of squats and these are the front and back squat. If the belt is designed for powerlifting specifically we’ll also low-bar squat to check a belt’s ability to resist forward lean and keep the torso’s rigid posture.
We look for three specific characteristics of a belt’s ability to hold up well during a squat workout. First, we look at a belt’s stiffness, or how rigid it feels on the torso. A good squat belt won’t flex or bend with any form of torso movement. Second, we check how the belt fits around the torso. Equal tension around the torso is typically better than a contoured design. Third, we check the buckle and durability. Heavy squats exert a lot of pressure into a belt, so checking a belt’s ability to withstand prolonged stress is important.
The Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt is our favorite belt for squats and is designed for powerlifting athletes. This belt is extremely rigid, offers a cylinder design, and doesn’t bend easily under pressure, which was great for low-bar squats. The buckle is a double-prong heavy stainless steel that’s double stitched, so it felt durable from the very first use.
The Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt is another belt that’s great for squats. This belt has a cylinder design and is thick to prevent easy bending of the torso. Rogue uses their signature vegetable tanning process that gives this belt’s leather a soft, comfortable feeling. Also, the buckle is heavy stainless steel and single-prong with eight bolts holding it tight.
The Schiek Model L2004 Lifting Belt is a great choice for squats that offers a different design. This belt has Schiek’s signature cone design and is constructed with multiple layers of thick leather. The sides are a little skinnier, but the thicker posterior and abdomen portions help make up for the lack of equal torso hug.
The final belt we like for squats is the Unbroken Designs Ahoy 6″ Leather Lifting Belt. This belt is a little unconventional for squats, as it has a 6″ posterior and contour design. While it’s not your typical cylinder shape, we like the extra width on the posterior and thought it provides ample support for resisting force coming out of the hole in a squat.
Best Belt For Deadlifts
Our favorite belt for deadlifts is the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt. A great deadlifting belt will provide the torso with a rigid base to brace into as force pulls the torso into flexion.
The best way to test a belt and it’s ability to perform great with deadlifting is to deadlift, so we did…a lot. Every strength athlete typically has some form of deadlift in their training, so we performed a majority of our lifts from a conventional style deadlift with some sumo pulling.
As we deadlift with multiple belts there are two key characteristics we pay close attention to. One, how did the belt feel as we brace the torso. A good deadlifting belt will promote torso stability from all angles as we actively brace into it, which then gives a lifter confidence and support. Two, does the belt promote stability and torso posture. Bracing is important, but so is a belt’s ability to maintain a rigid strong posture to prevent back injury or stress.
The Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt is the best belt for deadlifts. This belt is a thick leather that offers a cylinder design, but is also comfortable on the torso. Possibly the best aspect of this belt was how tight you could pull it, which made bracing into it a breeze. The unique vegetable tanning process Rogues uses creates a firm belt, but with a little flexibility so you can truly wrap the torso tightly.
A similar belt that’s great for deadlifts is the Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt. This belt is designed for powerlifting and has a suede leather that comes in a rigid cylinder design. The stiffness of this belt was great. If you like a very rigid belt for deadlifting, then this belt is a good choice for you.
The Eleiko Weightlifting Belt is also a good deadlifting belt, which was a little surprising. This belt is designed for weightlifting, so we tested it with conventional deadlifts and clean pulls, or lifts an Olympic lifter does regularly. The leather is stiffer and provided the torso with the support needed to fight a rounding back, especially as you increase your speed in clean pulls.
The final belt that is good for deadlifting are the Rogue Fitness 5″ and 4″ Nylon Belts. This belt is a good choice for someone who’s performing deadlifts in a functional fitness style workout. It provides the torso with even support and has ample velcro to create a tight surface to brace into. Also, the stainless steel buckle was a nice touch when resetting and pulling the belt extremely tight in-between sets.
Best Belt For The Money
The best belt for your money is the Harbinger 4″ Padded Leather Belt. A belt qualifies as good for the money when it serves its purpose well and shows signs of durability.
In order to test a belt’s impact on the wallet we look for three main belt characteristics. First, we compare prices of other belts on the market that have similar makes. Similarities come in the form of construction, design purpose, and special features. Second, we look for clues that indicate a belt’s durability. We considered things like double stitching, extra bolts, stainless steel buckles, and other aspects that suggest a durable make. Third, we hypothesize what type of athlete would invest in the belt. Recreational, sub-elite, and elite lifters are all speculated into our pricing judgement.
The Harbinger 4″ Padded Leather Belt is the best belt for your money. This belt starts around $21.99 and has a similar design to other leather weightlifting belts, such as the Eleiko Olympic Weightlifting Belt. There’s double stitching around the whole exterior and the leather is somewhat stiff for the price. Also, there’s a double prong stainless steel buckle that suggests the buckle won’t bend easily or break fast.
The Rogue 4″ and 5″ Nylon Weightlifting Belts are also good choices for your wallet. The 4″ starts at $18.99 and the 5″ at $19.99. These are standard nylon belts that provide equal amount of belt width to wrap around the torso. There’s a stainless steel buckle and decent amount of velcro that wraps the outside, so the velcro doesn’t feel as though it will wear out too quickly.
Another belt that’s good on a tight budget is the Harbinger 4″ Nylon Belt. This belt starts at $16.99 and is probably one of the cheaper belts on the market. There’s a stainless steel buckle and a good amount of velcro for the price. Keep in mind that this is a standard nylon belt, so it’s not the thickest belt, but for versatility and the price this belt was a good choice on the cash pressed strength athlete.
There are so many belts on the market that a strength athlete might find themselves overwhelmed when looking for their perfect fit. If you breakdown your selection into multiple categories, then the process can become easier. For example, take the above sections and rank them into what’s most important to you.
Different types of strength athletes will have different needs and requirements. If you take the time to figure out what type of training you’re doing most, then you can help ease the belt selection process. We’re going to continue to add to our comprehensive list to constantly provide you with the best information when selecting your perfect belt.