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.
Recreational Lifting: Dark Iron Fitness Genuine Leather Pro Weight Lifting Belt
The Dark Iron Fitness Leather Belt is a great choice for the recreational lifters that needs adequate support for longer, bodybuilding-style workouts.
The Dark Iron Fitness Leather Belt is a solid option for the fitness enthusiast that needs adequate support throughout their entire workout. This belt tends to be best for the recreational lifter in need of a slightly less rigid belt that travels really well. On top of its support and ability to transport well, this belt comes with a lifetime warranty, which is rare for any lifting belt.
Why we love the Dark Iron Fitness Leather Belt
- Slightly less rigid, so it’s a comfortable belt to wear for long, bodybuilding-style workouts.
- Reinforced construction and lifetime warranty.
- Decently cost efficient compared to other leather belts on the market.
Functional Fitness: Schiek Model 2004 Lifting Belt
The Schiek Model 2004 lifting belt is designed for versatility and to contour to the body's natural shape to provide support. It's ideal for functional fitness workouts as it's easy to strap on and remove in-between movements.
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.
Why We Love the Schiek Model 2004 Lifting Belt
- Double security with extra velcro around the buckle.
- Cone-shaped to accommodate for most dynamic movements.
- Comfortable to wear for longer sets and workouts.
For Deadlifts: Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt
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.
Why we love Schiek Model 6010 Double Prong Competition Power Belt
- Extremely rigid leather to support heavy deadlifts.
- Stainless steel double-prong buckle for durability and support.
- Great for competition and heavy training.
Best Value: Harbinger 4″ Padded Leather Belt
The Harbinger 4″ Padded Leather Belt is the best belt for your money. This belt starts around $19.99 and has a similar design to other leather weightlifting belts, but for a much more value friendly price. 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.
Why we love the Harbinger 4″ Padded Leather Belt
- Cost efficient compared to similar belts with nearly identical construction.
- Additional posterior padding for comfort and fit.
- Stainless steel buckle for long-term durability.
For Squats: Hawk Single-Prong Lifting Belt
The Hawk Single-Prong Lifting Belt has all of attributes you want in a rigid leather belt. It's 10mm thick, has a stainless buckle, and has dimensions legal for most powerlifting federations.
The Hawk Single-Prong Lifting Belt is the perfect belt for someone in need of support in squats. This belt features a strong and durable 10mm leather and the edges are rounded for comfort, AKA there will be slightly less digging into the ribs with this belt. On top of its construction, two of the best attributes about this belt are its price and being legal for IPF competition.
Why we love the Hawk Single-Prong Lifting Belt
- Strong 10mm leather with rounded edges for comfort.
- Sizes coincide with IPF standards and requirements, so it’s great for competition and training.
- Cost efficient compared to similar belts on the market.
For Weightlifting: Harbinger 4″ Nylon Lifting Belt
The Harbinger 4″ Nylon Lifting Belt is the perfect cost efficient belt for the recreational weightlifter. This belt is versatile and maneuverable and provides the torso with adequate support. The strap is designed to be extra wide and the buckle is made of stainless steel.
Why we love the Harbinger 4″ Nylon Lifting Belt
- Cost efficient belt starting at $16.99.
- Great option for the traveling recreational weightlifter.
- Durable strap and stainless steel buckle.
How We Decided Our Top Picks
We select our favorite belts on multiples forms of criteria. First, we assess the belt’s overall construction to decide which type of athlete the belt will work best for. Second, we test the belt’s material and how durable it is. Lastly, we consider a few of the more niche aspects like competition approval and so forth.
Different Types of Belt Designs
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 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.
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.
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.
Types of Material
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. The way a belt is tanned and oiled can help you predict how high of a quality the belt is.
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. Some belts have a 6″ width, which is designed the torso more support.
IPF, IWF, and More
For the general fitness enthusiast, the characteristic of competition approval won’t matter to the same extent as a competitive strength sports athlete. If you’re someone who wants to compete in a particular strength sports, then it’s a good idea to consider the competition approval of your belt. This is important because you don’t want to acclimate to a belt in training, then be forced to use a different belt when you’re ready to compete.
I'm new to training, do I need a lifting belt?
Absolutely not. If you’re brand new to training, more specifically barbell training, then it’s a good idea to build a foundation of strength before reaching for a belt. A belt is useful for heavy training, but if the core and torso are not strong to begin with, then you long-term progress could be slowed by over reliance on a belt.
What type of belt fits my training best?
There’s no one way to answer this question. A great place to start is to make a list of what you value most in a belt. For example, someone’s list could look like, “support, value, and versatility.” These three categories can help you narrow down the belts that align with your needs most and weed out all of the others that won’t benefit your training.
While a lifting belt can be incredibly useful for supporting heavy training, it’s a good idea to build a foundation of strength first. Once you’ve built your foundation and start to focus on specific training attributes, then you can employ the use of a belt to support your progress and longevity under the bar.