Reviews

The Best Weightlifting Belts for CrossFit, Olympic Lifting, and More

July 22, 2022 by
Weightlifting belts
A variety of weightlifting belts. Credit: Garage Gym Reviews
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If you’ve ever seen someone deadlift in weightlifting shoes or back squat in running shoes, you know that athletes occasionally misuse gear or use the wrong equipment at the wrong time!

Unfortunately, weightlifting belts are no exception

But here’s the thing: Weightlifting belts can support your functional fitness goals when you use them correctly and when you use the correct type of weightlifting belt for your preferred form of movement. That’s why we put together this guide to the best weightlifting belts. 

Here, we outline when, how, and why CrossFit athletes would use a belt—plus, the best type of weightlifting belt for your specific fitness needs. 

We Know Weightlifting Belts Like Fraser Knows The Podium

Rest assured, strength sport athletes and CrossFit lovers, this list wasn’t thrown together willy-nilly. This list was put together by a crew of CrossFit experts. 

Each of the belts listed below have been put through the ringer (read: countless WODs and strength workouts) by our team of CrossFit coaches, Quarterfinal athletes, fitness journalists, and professional gear reviewers. 

All of us do slightly different CrossFit programs and have different career and sport goals. But we all know that a well-made weight belt can improve performance and help you meet your short- and long-term strength goals, while a low-quality weight belt can distract from the task at hand. 

Our goal below is to outline the pros and cons of the best weight lifting belts on the market so that you can choose which of the best is best for you personally.

The Best Weightlifting Belts in 2022

Editor’s Choice (Best Weightlifting Belt for CrossFit Overall): 2POOD Straight Weightlifting Belt

2POOD weightlifting belt
2POOD weightlifting belt. Credit: 2POOD

Why CrossFit athletes will love this: The 2POOD Straight Weightlifting Belt is beloved by CrossFit heroes like Sam Briggs and Jacob Heppner for a reason: It’s sturdy, durable, and well-made. 

Pros: 

  • Available in many different colors and patterns 
  • Incredibly sturdy for a nylon belt
  • Tried-and-true by competitive CrossFit athletes
  • Very reasonably priced

Cons:

  • Takes a few wears to break in
  • Velcro closure is generally less secure than a lever or buckle
  • Stock fluctuates a lot; many sizes are sold out at the time of writing

In the world of CrossFit, 2POOD is to weightlifting belts what Concept2 is to rowing machines. It’s arguably the most popular weightlifting belt brand in CrossFit. 

Of all the 2POOD belts (there are several), the most tried-and-true in the competitive CrossFit world is the 2POOD Straight Weightlifting Belt. 

Made of tough nylon that is equal parts sturdy and pliant, the Straight Weightlifting Belt has a Velcro closure that makes it easy to put on or take off mid-workout. 

While some athletes shy away from elcro closures because Velcro usually becomes less secure over time, athletes report that these belts last three to five years before losing effectiveness, which is incredible for a belt that costs less than $70. 

In addition to being known as the best CrossFit weightlifting belt around, 2POOD is also known for their fun designs. From pineapples to pigs, sparkles to sunsets, dogs to donuts, 2POOD has a design for every eye. 

One downside of this belt is that it does take some time to break it in. Some athletes are surprised by this fact, given that it’s made from nylon (not leather). Luckily, a handful of workouts is all it takes to make this belt comfortable. 

Runner-Up: Rogue 5” Nylon Lifting Belt

Rogue Nylon Lifting Belt. Credit: Rogue Fitness
Rogue Nylon Lifting Belt. Credit: Rogue Fitness

Why CrossFit athletes will love this: Of course the brand that makes your favorite rigs and racks also makes a weightlifting belt! Uniquely designed to provide movement freedom and back support, the Rogue 5” Nylon Lifting Belt is a budget-friendly option that balances the line between supportive and flexible. 

Pros: 

  • Supportive, but non-intrusive construction
  • Costs just $23 
  • Available in 6 different sizes
  • Easy to loosen or remove between exercises

Cons:

  • Only available in 1 color (black)
  • Velcro closure shortens lifespan of belt
  • Some buyers complain the belt is larger than expected

If you’re looking for a solid CrossFit weightlifting belt and are on a budget, the Rogue 5” Nylon Lifting Belt is for you. Just $23 bucks, this belt is a fraction of the cost of our top pick. 

At first sight, you’ll notice that this Rogue belt looks different from other belts on the list—the front of the belt is just 3 inches wide, while the back is 5 inches wide. 

To be clear: This isn’t just a material-saving gimmick from Rogue. It’s an intentional design choice that enhances the belt’s stability without interfering with the wearer’s ability to bend forward. The thinner construction of the front makes it friendlier for smaller-framed athletes than other belts on the market. 

The belt has a hook-and-loop Velcro fastening system that makes adjusting the belt easy when you’re transitioning from heavy weight exercises to gymnastics or cardio machines. 

Before you purchase, spend an extra few seconds eying the sizing guide. A few buyers report that the belt is bigger than they’d expected. This is not ideal given that you shouldn’t be able to put more than two fingers between the belt and your skin! 

(P.S. — there’s a made-in-the-USA version of this belt, the Rogue USA Nylon Weightlifting Belt, that was designed in collaboration with Mat Fraser. It’s more than double the price of this one, though.)

Best Budget Weightlifting Belt: Element 26 Self-Locking Weightlifting Belt

Element 26 Weightlifting Belt. Credit: Element 26
Element 26 Weightlifting Belt. Credit: Element 26

Why CrossFit athletes will love this: For a budget-friendly belt that’s soft enough to wear while you hang from the rig, but stable enough to support your lifts in the rack, look no further. The Element 26 Self-Locking Weightlifting Belt is a versatile belt designed with the various needs of functional fitness athletes in mind. 

Pros: 

  • Available in 6 different size options
  • Aesthetically pleasing and available in multiple colors 
  • Metcon-friendly 
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • 4-inch uniform profile may be too thick for smaller athletes
  • No patterns available

The Element 26 Self-Locking Weightlifting belt is designed to offer both the stability athletes crave when maxing out and the comfort they need for high-volume metcons. 

The belt is made from nylon, making it innately more comfortable on your core compared to leather belts. However, its 4-inch width provides the rigidity athletes need when the barbell is loaded up. 

As its name says, the belt is self-locking. This means that the metal lock won’t come undone during critical moments. Athletes who have ever had a Velcro belt come undone in the bottom of their squat understand just how important this security is. 

The fact that this belt is self-locking and costs less than $40 is the reason it’s our top budget pick. It’s tough to come by a good self-locking belt at this price point. 

One potential downfall of this belt is the fact that it is 4 inches wide all around. For smaller athletes, this width may keep them from getting into their proper start position on movements like the deadlift and clean. If you’re under 5’3”, you may be better suited with another option on the list that features a contour or all-around thinner width. 

Best Neoprene Weightlifting Belt: Gymreapers Quick-Locking Weightlifting Belt

Gymreapers Quicklocking Weightlifting Belt. Credit: Gymreapers
Gymreapers Quicklocking Weightlifting Belt. Credit: Gymreapers

Why CrossFit athletes will love this: Just $35, this tough neoprene belt will lock you in as you move and groove. Available in 6 sizes and a few colors, the Gymreapers Quick-Locking Weightlifting Belt is a budget-friendly pick for CrossFit athletes with a wide variety of body types and style preferences. 

Pros: 

  • Costs just $35 
  • Available in 6 sizes
  • Comes in a few color options 
  • Easy to put on and take off

Cons:

  • Velcro doesn’t have the same longevity as a buckle or lever
  • Better for Metcons than maxing out
  • No contour 

This Gymreapers Quick-Locking Weightlifting Belt offers a mega bang for its buck. 

By ‘bang’ we mean it’s made of high-quality neoprene that is rigid enough to support your core as you pull, press, pop, lock, and drop it, but not so rigid that you can’t comfortably get into your starting position. And by ‘buck’ we mean a very reasonable $35. 

The belt is 4 inches around throughout and is secured with a Velcro hook-and-loop closure that effectively hugs the belt tight to your middle. 

We’d be remiss not to mention that Velcro has a shorter shelf-life than a bucker or lever closure. And truthfully, we found that the Velcro on this belt began to fray after about 1 to 2 years of use, depending on how often we called on it for help. That means you may need to replace it after a few years, but honestly, your goals could totally change between now and then, so that shouldn’t stop you from dropping the 35 bucks. 

Given the belt’s construction, our opinion is that this belt is better for CrossFit-style workouts than powerlifting sessions. If you’re planning to dabble in both sports competitively, you’ll likely need to invest in two belts. 

Best Leather Weightlifting Belt: Rogue Faded 4” Lifting Belt by Pioneer

Rogue Faded4" Leather Belt by Pioneer
Rogue Faded4″ Leather Belt by Pioneer. Credit: Garage Gym Reviews

Why CrossFit athletes will love this: If you’re looking for a weight belt that can support you through your off-season deadlift or squat strength cycle, you may have met your match. 

Pros: 

  • Belt can be adjusted in half-inch increments 
  • Classic Pioneer cut with a twist
  • High quality
  • Gorgeous tanned leather
  • Rigid enough to support very heavy lifts 

Cons:

  • Pioneer belts tend to run large
  • Costs $140
  • Will show signs of water damage if wet
  • Single-prong closure

If you’re a CrossFit athlete through and through, you may not be familiar with Pioneer. Allow us to introduce you: Pioneer is a leathercraft company that makes some of the highest quality power belts on the market today. 

Lucky for us, they teamed up with Rogue Fitness to bring us the Rogue Faded 4” Lifting Belt. A belt designed to be worn during heavyweight squats and deadlifts, this is the belt you’ll reach for during your off-season strength cycles. 

To be clear: This 4-inch wide belt is *not* the best weightlifting belt for CrossFit athletes looking for something they can grab mid-workout, despite its premium leather construction. 

Why? For starters, the leather construction makes the belt too rigid to wear during lower-weight, higher-rep movements. Second, the buckle closure is more time-consuming to adjust than a Velcro closure. 

One thing that sets this belt apart from other power belts is that it has holes every half-inch, rather than every inch, which is standard. The benefit is that you’re able to achieve Goldlilocks tightness: tight, but not too tight. 

The one downside of this 8.5-millimeter belt is that it takes a lot to break in. As a general rule of thumb, you should expect to have to wear the belt seven to 10 times before it comfortably takes the shape of your torso. This is normal for leather power belts, but usually takes CrossFit enthusiasts by surprise. 

Best Weightlifting Belt for Olympic Lifting: Eleiko Premium Olympic Weightlifting Belt

Eleiko Premium Olympic Weightlifting Belt. Credit: Eleiko
Eleiko Premium Olympic Weightlifting Belt. Credit: Eleiko

Why CrossFit athletes will love this: Designed to support you through cleans, jerks, and snatches, this competition-certified leather belt is a sound investment for any athlete currently on an Olympic strength cycle. 

Pros: 

  • Competition-certified (meets IWF specifications)
  • Tapered cut specifically for the Olympic lifts
  • Sexy blacked-out aesthetic 
  • Made of quality leather 

Cons:

  • Thick leather is rigid
  • Tough to break in
  • Not for metcons

In the world of Olympic lifting, Eleiko garners the same appreciative headnod and half-smile Rogue Fitness garners in the CrossFit world. This is for good reason: Eleiko makes unbeatable weightlifting products. 

Their Premium Olympic Weightlifting Belt is handcrafted from vegetable-tanned leather that will last you a lifetime. The belt is an incredibly thick 10 millimeters, which allows the belt to provide unbeatable stability as you sling weight overhead. 

The shape of the belt, however, is designed to make the belt comfortable despite the thickness. It measures 4 inches wide at the back, but tapers to just 2 inches in the front. This design helps keep wearers from feeling like they’re in a straightjacket. It also gives you the range of motion freedom you need to get into the proper start position on the snatch and clean. 

The main downside of the belt is how long it takes to break in. While a long break-in period is normal for leather belts, the thickness of this belt means it will take a few additional wears to become comfortable. If you buy this belt, you shouldn’t be surprised if it takes more than 10, and up to 20, wears to be as comfortable as you desire. 

Best Deadlift Belt: Dominion 3” Leather Belt

Wearing a Dominion Strength weight belt.
Wearing a Dominion Strength weight belt. Credit: Garage Gym Reviews

Why CrossFit athletes will love this: If you’re looking to put pounds onto your pull, you should consider investing in a 3-inch thick belt like the Dominion 3” Leather Belt. Short enough to enable athletes to get into the proper deadlift start position, this leather option simultaneously encourages sound form and midline rigidity. 

Pros: 

  • Aesthetically pleasing 
  • Great option for deadlift and squats
  • Free shipping for Amazon Prime members

Cons:

  • Expensive ($155+)
  • Single-prong closure
  • A bit thick and slow to take on/off for CrossFit metcons

Are you an anterior-dominant athlete on the fast track to build bodily symmetry? Do you want to beef up the lift Greg Glassman once dubbed “the healthlift”? Or are ya a regular class attendee simply looking to get the most from your deadlift cycle?

Whatever the reason, if you’re looking for a belt specifically for deadlifts, you’ve met your match. 

Unlike most other power belts on the market that are 4 inches wide, the Dominion 3” Leather Belt is just 3 inches wide. While a 4-inch belt can physically interfere with an athlete’s ability to get into the proper deadlift start position, a 3-inch belt does not. Luckily, at 10-millimeters thick, it still provides ample support to the midline. 

The belt has a single-prong closure. While it’s typically true that double-prong closures allow for a tighter fit, you’ll still get a snug fit with this belt due to the fact that there is a hole every half-inch. 

Another perk of this belt is that it breaks it more quickly than other leather belts on the market. Made from suede, this belt shouldn’t take more than a few wears to conform to the curves of your body. 

Best Lever Lifting Belt: Rogue Lever Belt

Rogue Fitness Lever Belt. Credit: Rogue Fitness
Rogue Fitness Lever Belt. Credit: Rogue Fitness

Why CrossFit athletes will love this: If you’re on a powerlifting cycle, this Rogue Lever Belt could be for you. This 13mm thick leather belt features a nickel-plated steel lever closure that secures this belt tighter to your skin than a pair of FLEO shorts. 

Pros: 

  • Very thick and rigid 
  • Great option for deadlift and squats
  • Easy, quick, secure closure

Cons:

  • Very thick and rigid (yes, it’s a pro and a con)
  • Too thick for metcons
  • Costs $150 

No weightlifting belt round-up would be complete without at least one lever belt! 

For those who aren’t familiar, a lever belt uses a lock-and-lever closure that enables athletes to get the belt extremely snug to their bodies. No doubt, lever belts close tighter to your body than a buckle or Velcro closure would allow. 

As a general rule, lever-closure belts aren’t CrossFit beltsand that’s true for the Rogue Lever Belt. 

Here’s why: Made from 100% genuine leather, The Rogue Lever Belt is a whopping 13 millimeters thick and 4 inches wide. This construction makes the belt ideal for power lifts, but suboptimal for any “for time” workout. 

If you’re looking for something to get you through your off-season strength cycles, or if you dabble in powerlifting in addition to CrossFit, this is a great option. But make sure you have something you can do a daily WOD with, too.

Other Weightlifting Belts to Consider

SBD Lever Belt and Rogue 4" Leather Belt
SBD Lever Belt and Rogue 4″ Leather Belt. Credit: Garage Gym Reviews

Gymreapers Lever Belt: As its name suggests, the Gymreapers Lever Belt is a weightlifting belt with a lever clasp. While its clasp makes it a suboptimal option for people looking for a belt they can wear in the middle of high-intensity workouts, its rigidity and general construction make it ideal for athletes looking for a powerlifting belt. 

Rogue Oly Ohio Lifting Belt: A drop-dead gorgeous leather belt with a single-prong buckle,  the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt is here to offer firm, consistent support while you pop, lock, and drop it… into a squat. Most ideal for powerlifting, this belt is a little too rigid for a CrossFit athlete looking for something to grab for interval or AMRAP workouts. 

Harbinger 4’ Foam Core Belt: Fam, this belt literally costs less than your post-workout burrito meal (any other CrossFit-to-Chipotle fans in the house?). Just $22 dollars on Amazon, this nylon weightlifting belt is flexy enough to be wearable during pull-ups, but tight enough to be supportive during moderately heavy lifts. Best for CrossFit athletes looking for a belt they can wear ASAP, this belt barely needs any break-in time. 

Gymreapers 7MM Leather Belt: Leather belts typically put you out at least one Benjamin. But not this option! Just $50, the Gymreapers 7MM Leather Belt is a wonderful pick for athletes looking for a leather belt that won’t wipe your bank account. 

interior view of a leather buckle weight belt
Interior view of a leather buckle weight belt. Credit: Garage Gym Reviews

Dark Iron Fitness Weightlifting Belt: Made from buffalo hide leather, the Dark Iron Fitness Weightlifting Belt offers more stability than a nylon belt, while still being less rigid than a traditional leather belt. Best for squat and deadlift strength work, this two-prong buckle belt is  a little too complicated to put on, take off, and loosen mid-metcon. 

Hookgrip Russian Weightlifting Belt: The Hookgrip Russian Weightlifting Belt is a tapered leather belt that’s 4 inches wide at the back but just 2 inches wide in the front. Notably, it costs just $70, which is half the cost of similar belts on this list. The main downside is that the buckle holes are an inch apart, making it less customizable than belts with holes every half-inch. 

Iron Bull Strength Pro 10mm Lever Weightlifting Belt: Another lever belt, the Iron Bull Strength Pro 10mm thick lever weightlifting belt is a serious belt made for deadlifting and squats. Flashy athletes will be keen on its red-and-black design, while athletes who prefer a more subtle design won’t. 

Iron Bull Strength 10mm Double Prong Belt: With a height of 4 inches all across its length, the leather Iron Bull Strength 10mm Double Prong Belt is designed to keep your core cinched and your spine supported through your every move. Despite its girth and materials, this belt is surprisingly easy to break in. 

Inzer Forever Buckle Belt: Another popular powerlifting brand, Inzer produces belts made of quality materials such as the suede featured in the Forever Buckle Belt. 

Schiek 2004 Support Belt: Schiek belts show up in a variety of strength sports. They’re quite popular in CrossFit; there’s even a Tia-Claire Toomey-Orr version.

How We Picked the Best Weightlifting Belts

Deadlifting with a belt.
Deadlifting with a belt. Credit: Garage Gym Reviews

Wondering exactly how we came up with the list of the best belts above? Simply put, by lifting a whole lot of weight a whole lot of times. 

To start off, we let the way the belt was marketed and designed dictate what sports and lifts we used it during. After all, wearing a power belt in the middle of a CrossFit workout like 16.2 (which features toes to bar, double unders, and squat cleans of increasing weight) would be like wearing lifters while running and making a judgment call off of that. 

(For the record: That would literally be asinine.)

Then, we put the belts through a variety of strength sessions, including things like a 5-by-5 heavy back squats, one-rep max deadlift, heavy clean complexes, and more.

When it was applicable, we also wore the belts during a handful of metcons, paying close attention to: 

  • How long it took to take the belt on and off
  • How easy it was to loosen or tighten the belt between movements
  • How comfortable (or not) the belt was to wear during bodyweight and gymnastics movements

Benefits of Weightlifting Belts

wearing a belt during deadlifts
Credit: Garage Gym Reviews

Weightlifting belts’ main claim to fame is that they provide support to your body— specifically your lower back—while you move heavy weight. 

The belt does this by increasing something called intra-abdominal pressure (IAP), which in turn creates greater rigidity in your midline and back while you press, pull, squat, snatch, and more. The practical benefit of this increased stability is a reduced risk of injuries like disc slips. 

But here’s the thing: Weightlifting belts aren’t the best thing you can do or use to protect your back—moving with good form is. 

To be ultra-clear, weightlifting belts do not fix bad form. They simply provide extra support during heavy lifting.

Width view of weightlifting belt
Widths of weight belts vary. Credit: Garage Gym Reviews

As a refresher: Something is considered sound form because it allows you to lift in the way that is the safest and provides the greatest mechanical advantage. 

If you are not lifting with sound form, you are moving in a less efficient and less safe way. So whether your goal is to move safely and maximize longevity in the sport or maximize the amount of weight you can lift, you’d be wise to lift well, with or without a belt. 

Spending time dialing in your technique is the only thing that you can do to improve your lifting form—wearing a weightlifting belt is not. 

The punchline is this: Weightlifting belts do offer benefits! But those benefits are negated if you’re moving poorly. Point blank, belted or not, moving with poor form is risky business that could majorly sideline your progress. 

How to Choose the Best Weightlifting Belt for You

Leather weightlifting belt buckle
Leather weightlifting belt buckle. Credit: Garage Gym Reviews

Wondering how you can find a weightlifting belt that fits your specific sport needs? Follow these steps. 

1. Figure Out What You Want a Belt For

Are you following a template that requires you to snatch or squat heavy, often? If so, you’ll want a different belt than if you’re simply looking for a belt you can wear for metcons with moderately heavy deadlifts. 

Ask yourself: 

  • For what portion of my workout(s) am I hoping to use this belt? 
  • What movements am I looking for a belt for? 
  • How quickly do I need to be to take the belt on and off? 

If you’re looking for a belt specifically for deadlifts or squats or any strongman-type moves, you’ll want to invest in a power belt. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a belt you can wear in the middle of a daily WOD, you’d be wise to opt for a thinner nylon belt with a Velcro closure. It really comes down to your sport priorities and personal preference. 

Also consider the closure mechanism as it pertains to your sport. Velcro belts tend to fit more waist sizes and can accommodate changes in your midsection (from bloat or positioning or anything) better than a leather belt with a steel buckle can. Roller buckles are a happy medium between Velcro and prong closures.

Additionally, materials matter. A heavy-duty cowhide belt is great for powerlifting, but nylon or neoprene construction is better for the fast-paced variety of movements that CrossFit athletes endure. 

SBD Lever Belt and Rogue Faded 4" Leather Belt.
SBD Lever Belt and Rogue Faded 4″ Leather Belt. Credit: Garage Gym Reviews

2. Do a Size Check

For a belt to work, it needs to be the right size! Do not simply buy a size M belt because that’s the size you usually are in leggings or shorts. Instead, take the time to look at the size guide and measure your waist with a flexible tape measure. 

3. Actually, if You Can, Try it On

Buying a weightlifting belt without trying it on is like buying a bra without trying it on: not the wisest. Different people have different clasp, girth, and material preferences. Trying the belt on before handing over your credit card info will save you from buying a belt that’s just OK and/or dealing with the hassle of returns and exchanges. 

4. Be Patient

Weightlifting belts are like grips: They take a bit to break in. So, do your best to stay calm, cool, and collected during the break-in period! 

Remember, a belt is just an accessory to your lifts, not the reason you can (or cannot) lift a certain amount of weight. (For that, you have your body to thank or blame). 

FAQs About Weightlifting Belts

Ahead, the answers to some other commonly asked questions about weightlifting belts. 

What do weightlifting belts do?

Weightlifting belts help support your lower back by increasing something known as intra abdominal pressure (IAP). That sounds complicated, but basically it just means that the belt helps increase stability of your spine during strength training. They can be a helpful addition to your home gym if you lift weights. 

Do weightlifting belts actually work? 

Yep! Weightlifting belts actually can help protect your back and support your PR goals. 

But there are a few caveats. 

First, a weightlifting belt will only support your body and lifting goals if you’ve done everything in your human power to do that without it. Specifically, you need to master the art of properly engaging your midline, maintaining a neutral spine, and lifting cleanly. 

For more details, read our guide to wearing weightlifting belts.

What weightlifting belt do CrossFit athletes wear? 

No shade, but CrossFit athletes are nothing if not brand loyal. 

Just as NOBULL and Fleo are brands CrossFit athletes prefer for shoes and shorties, CrossFit athletes have a few brands they generally prefer for weightlifting belts. 

These brands include: 

Do weightlifting belts protect your back?

Sound form, which includes properly activated midline muscles, is the best thing you can do for the health of your back. 

Weight lifting belts, when worn by someone who knows how to move with good form, can provide additional lumbar support. 

But they can not injury-proof your body on their own!

Should beginners wear weight belts? 

Depends. For the most part, beginner lifters shouldn’t be moving enough weight to necessitate a belt. Instead, beginners should be focusing on technique. But, there are some cases where a beginner might benefit from a belt. A coach can help you out if you’re unsure.

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