You’ve seen the bigger guys at the gym wearing a leather belt when performing deadlifts and squats. Yet, when you search the Internet to buy your own belt, you may have noticed that some belts are “powerlifting” belts while others are “weightlifting” belts.
We know this can be a little confusing, so let’s go over the major differences between powerlifting and weightlifting belts and recommend the best of each.
Table of Contents
- What is a Powerlifting Belt?
- 2 Benefits of Powerlifting Belts
- 1 Reason Against Powerlifting Belts
- What Powerlifting Belt Do We Recommend?
- So What’s a Weightlifting Belt Then?
- 2 Benefits of Weightlifting Belts
- 2 Reasons Against Weightlifting Belts
- Weightlifting Belt Recommendation
- Powerlifting Belt vs. Weightlifting Belt Conclusion
What is a Powerlifting Belt?
Powerlifting belts are designed to provide superior assistance during heavy-resistance powerlifting exercises. They’re typically made of heavy-duty leather and accompanied by highly secure prong or lever closure systems in the front to keep them stable around your waist.
These belts are usually 4” wide all the way around in an attempt to provide even pressure to both your back and core. With more surface area at your core, you can exert even more force during your lift and set new PRs with relative ease.
Since powerlifting typically involves higher weights, powerlifting belts are designed to resist even the heaviest of lifts, sometimes over 600 pounds. Powerlifting belts are usually about 10 millimeters thick and rather rigid to provide unmatchable support mid-lift.
2 Benefits of Powerlifting Belts
1. Heavy Duty Construction
Almost all powerlifting belts are made of some form of genuine leather designed to prevent tearing, ripping, or stretching. They’re also constructed with steel single or double prong closure systems that guarantee the belt will stay put once locked up.
2. Optimal Pressure Throughout Lifts
The best aspect of powerlifting belts is consistency when it comes to abdominal pressure. With more surface area to work against during a squat or a deadlift, you’ll be able to muster up just a little more strength and power to blow your old PRs out of the water.
1 Reason Against Powerlifting Belts
1. A Little Bulky
Since most powerlifting belts are about 10 millimeters thick and join together with a thick steel buckle in the front, they tend to be a little bulky. That means your powerlifting belt might get in the way when you’re attempting to sink down into a deep squat or deadlift.
What Powerlifting Belt Do We Recommend?
The ProFitness Genuine Leather Workout Belt is a heavy-duty 4” wide powerlifting belt that’s way ahead of the game in terms of superior quality. We even included it on our list of best powerlifting belts that you can see right here.
It provides unbeatable core and back support, even during the heaviest of deadlifts or squats.
What makes this powerlifting belt so elite is the tear-proof and stretch-proof genuine leather as well as the reinforced double prong closure system. The added suede in the interior guarantees absolutely no slippage as you try for PRs.
You can check out reviews from real customers here on Amazon.
So What’s a Weightlifting Belt Then?
Weightlifting belts are more intended for beginners or those looking to focus purely on strength (not power) at the gym. Most are made of heavy-duty leather, but some are made from more comfortable materials like nylon and offer flexible velcro closure systems.
The major difference is that weightlifting belts are usually tapered, meaning they’ll be about 4-6” wide at the back and less wide in the front. Though this definitely boosts comfort, it does limit how much force you’ll be able to exert during a lift.
Since you won’t be lifting quite as much as you would with a powerlifting belt, weightlifting belts also tend to be a little thinner, usually less than 10 millimeters thick. Because they’re less bulky, you can achieve a greater range of motion without the buckle and belt getting in the way.
2 Benefits of Weightlifting Belts
1. More Comfortable for Beginners
There’s no doubt about it, powerlifting belts tend to be quite bulky, rigid, and uncomfortable. Weightlifting belts are usually much thinner and made of gentler materials that keep the belt from digging into your sides during your lifts.
2. Allow for Better Range of Motion
Given the minimal thickness of weightlifting belts, you’ll be able to move more freely during your exercises. Since there’s no bulky leather or steel closure system to get in the way, you can drop deeper into squats and deadlifts without risking your form or comfort.
2 Reasons Against Weightlifting Belts
1. Weaker Closure Systems
The issue with weightlifting belts is that, since you’re lifting less weight, you don’t need as durable of a closure system. With that said, you’ll find that a lot of weightlifting belts opt for weaker (and sometimes cheaper) velcro closure systems instead of the highly-regarded steel buckles.
2. Less Abdominal Pressure
Though weightlifting belts are definitely more comfortable and thinner in the front, this can be a downside if you plan to lift rather heavy. With less abdominal pressure, you won’t be able to exert as much force, meaning you’ll have to invest in a powerlifting belt in the future anyway if you plan to keep making progress.
Weightlifting Belt Recommendation
The ProFitness Pre-Broken-In Genuine Leather Weightlifting Belt is undoubtedly one of the best weightlifting belts on the market today. The best feature is that it’s made of genuine leather that comes already broken-in, so you can hit the gym as soon as it’s delivered to your door.
What makes this belt special is the durability, which is further enhanced by the reinforced stitch patterns and a durable steel double-prong closure system. Better yet, since this weightlifting belt is only 7 millimeters thick, it’s comfortable to wear and allows for a full range of motion.
You can compare what other lifters are saying about this belt over in the Amazon reviews section.
Powerlifting Belt vs. Weightlifting Belt Conclusion
Both powerlifting belts and weightlifting belts serve their own purpose in the gym, but not all will work best for everybody. So, you need to make sure that you’re investing in a belt that’ll work for your routine and fitness goals.
Powerlifting belts are best if you’re looking to set new PRs, lift extremely heavy weights, or if you’re already pretty experienced with a weightlifting belt and looking to ramp up the intensity.
On the other hand, weightlifting belts are ideal if you’re a beginner or just looking to improve on your strength at the gym. This is where you should start if you’re slowly easing yourself into a consistent workout routine.