How To Choose A Powerlifting Belt?

When I first started powerlifting, I did not know that there were so many essential equipment that I would need. I had to choose which shoes I wanted for my lifts, my belt, knees sleeves, singlet, wrist wraps, chalk, and everything else that comes with powerlifting. It can be difficult if you don’t have anyone in your circle that is in the sport. I did have my coach to talk to about these things but we compete in different federations. It was difficult to figure what would be approved for my federation and what to get. I will be starting a new series next year about the ‘Journey To The Platform’ to help you understand more about powerlifting, the expectations, the federations and how to prepare yourself for your first meet. Today, I wanted to share everything you need to know before buying a powerlifting belt as they vary from the materials used, the thickness, the type of buckles and pricing. I will also be sharing the different types of belts and how to choose the right one for you.

Powerlifting vs. Weightlifting belt

Most people mix up weightlifting belts with powerlifting belts very often. Weightlifting belts are made out of leather and can vary in thickness and width based on their regulations. They are much thinner, more flexible for the types of lifts that they do, and the sides and the front of the belts are much smaller than the back of the belt. Powerlifting belts are thick all the way round and there are only two different thicknesses: 10mm and 13mm. They are more durable and rigid for the types of lifts that powerlifters do. You can spot the difference between the two belts so you definitely want to make sure that you choose the right belt for your sport.

Benefits of a Powerlifting Belt

Powerlifting is a sport to attain as much raw strength as humanly possible. It’s an individual sport where the goal is to lift the most amount of weight in squat, bench press and deadlift at a specific weight and age category. The aim of a powerlifting belt is to:

  • Stabilise your back and reduce spinal stress
  • Remind you to remain tight
  • Slow down fatigue in a competitive meet
  • Act as a mental activation tool

What To Look For In A Powerlifting Belt?

Federation- Approved

You would need to look for a belt that is on the approval list for your chosen federation. Most federations approve similar belts produced by brands such as SBD apparel, Inzer, Strength Shop and Pioneer. I compete with the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) and I bought my belt from Strength Shop. It is very important that your belt is approved by your federation as you will not be able to compete in their meets with a non-approved belt.

Thickness of the Belt

Powerlifting belts only come in two different thicknesses: 10mm or 13mm.

The 10mm belt is the most popular one to choose as it’s sturdier, the feel, the support and the functionality of the belt is really good. It’s the most popular one because it is faster to ‘break’ into the belt as it will conform to your body the more times you use it. Secondly, it’s much more affordable than the 13mm belt. It’s a great thickness for beginners.

The 13mm belt gives you the maximum amount of support but it is the least comfortable to wear. It’s much more expensive, more rigid, 30% more thicker than the 10mm belt, and it takes longer to ‘break’ into the belt. The extra rigidity of this belt provides extra support but it is not a great belt to use during training in the gym.

Personally, I would recommend getting the 10mm belt especially if you want to practice using the belt in the gym and use the same belt for your competitive meets. Those who compete at an elite level tend to have the 13mm belt so they can lift heavier weights.

The Buckle: Pronged vs. Lever

One of the most crucial things about choosing a powerlifting belt is the buckle type. There are two different buckle types used in powerlifting at the moment: pronged belt or lever belt.

A pronged belt is exactly as it sounds, you would buckle the belt as a regular belt. This kind of closure provides excellent security, it’s durable and it is easier to adjust them. However, they can seem inferior to lever belts due to the flimsy material that it is paired with. There are two options for the pronged belt:

  1. A single pronged belt
  2. A double pronged belt

Although they are easier to adjust, they are known to be extremely time-consuming to take off and put on. I’ve never used a pronged belt before and I probably would never use one because I don’t like belts in general. However, it is quite a popular selection amongst powerlifters.

A lever belt is exactly as it sounds, it’s a lot easier to put on and take off. You just flip it open and flip it shut. That is one thing that I like about this buckle type, it’s snappy and doesn’t take time. It does take more time to adjust a lever belt as you’ll need a screwdriver to change the tightness and it is more expensive than a pronged belt. Despite those drawbacks, it is much more durable. I recommend going for the lever belt because I think it is easier to adjust, quick to wear and take off and it’s durable. You might as spend a little more money on something that is going to keep you stabilised whilst pushing heavy weights.

It is really up to an individual what powerlifting belt they would like to buy and there are some decisions that you have to make based on the price, the buckle type, the thickness, and if it’s approved by your federation. If you are not going to go into competitive powerlifting, you can forego choosing a belt that is approved by a federation. You just need to find what works you.

So there you have it, a short but detailed explanation on how to choose the right powerlifting belt for you. I didn’t want to go into too much detail to lose you but these are the three things that I believe you should look into when you are buying a powerlifting belt. If you are not already subscribed to the blog, scroll down and join the rest of the community. Please check out my Instagram page for more powerlifting content and check out my Pinterest for more health, strength and confidence tips for your fitness journey.

Until next time,


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