What Size Powerlifting Belt Do I Need?
You need to buy a powerlifting belt, but choosing the right powerlifting belt can be a daunting task, especially if you're not sure what to look for. There are many different types of belts, and they vary in thickness, width, and length. Not choosing the right one can lead to discomfort, potential injury, and suboptimal performance when lifting.
So what size powerlifting belt do you need? The right size powerlifting belt will have the appropriate thickness, width, and size or length. The taller you are, the wider the belt should be. The stronger you are, the more you’ll benefit from thicker belts. Size or length will depend on your waistline.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about the sizes that powerlifting belts come in and which powerlifting belt is best suited for you.
Different Sizes Belts Come In
Powerlifting belts come in different dimensions and they depend specifically on the shapes and size of the athlete. The 3 dimensions that powerlifting belts come in are:
The thickness of powerlifting belts often comes in sizes of 6mm, 10mm, and 13mm. The thicker the belt, the more support it will offer when lifting heavyweights. Thick powerlifting belts have a higher amount of material and they are made with denser padding that is designed for heavier lifts. Thicker belts also take time to break into. Breaking into a belt means wearing down the rigidity of the belt until it molds around the torso more comfortably.
best for light and medium weight users
The Pioneer Cut Powerlifting Belt (Leather) is a good example of a powerlifting belt that offers all 3 thickness levels.
The width of powerlifting belts often comes in either 3 inches or 4 inches. The wider the belt, the more surface area of support the provider will provide the wearer. Wider belts are often reserved for taller and heavier powerlifters. Taller powerlifters will often have a longer gap between their pelvis and their ribcage. Larger powerlifters with larger waistlines will benefit from more support.
The Pioneer Cut Powerlifting Belt (Suede) is a good example of a powerlifting belt that offers two different widths.
Length (or Size)
The length or size of the powerlifting belt will often be determined by the manufacturer and model of the belt. The length of a powerlifting belt is the biggest variable for powerlifters of different sizes and shapes. The length of the powerlifting belt will be proportional to the waistline of the powerlifter. You will need to check the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer. Normally each length belt will cater to a range of waistlines. This will likely mean that there is more than one size that will suit your waistline.
Other Considerations When Choosing A Belt
Thicker Belt Isn’t Better
Yes, a thicker belt is a sturdier belt but most powerlifting belts are made to certain robustness that will practically last for many decades. It will be stiffer and provide stronger support but the thicker belt sizes for most people will be incredibly uncomfortable. It will be overkill for most lifters especially if it is your first belt.
The thicker belts will often be near impossible to break into. Many new or lighter lifters will find that the thicker belts will dig into their ribcage or abdomen area a lot and cause bruising. This will impede on the ability to brace properly and perform the power lifts properly.
It is also important to consider the belt you are using matches the requirements of the powerlifting federation that you are competing in. Many federations will not allow belts to be thicker than 13mm or more than 4 inches wide.
Powerlifting belts will come in different types of materials. For most people, it will be up to personal preference to what type that they choose. Most powerlifting belts will be made from either:
Leather is the most recommended material because it provides a good balance between robustness and rigidity with the capacity to still contour around the waistline. Leather is naturally more durable than other materials. A good example of a quality leather powerlifting belt is the Pioneer Cut Powerlifting Belt (Leather).
If you are someone who finds traditional powerlifting belts to be very uncomfortable to wear and if comfort is your primary need then the Spud Inc’s Pro Series Belt 3-Ply is highly recommended for that desired flexibility. It is built with triple-ply of nylon material to compensate for sturdiness.
The two main buckling systems are prong buckle systems and lever buckle systems. Prong buckles come in either single prong or double prong. Double prong belts tend to be more expensive but most powerlifters will agree that double prongs do not provide any more security than single prong. Moreover, if you end up wearing a double prong two tight, you might struggle to undo both prongs without help.
Prong belts are far more superior in terms of keeping tight during the execution of a lift, but the lever buckles are far easier to unlock once finished. The problems with lever belts are that there is a small risk of unlocking sometimes and if your waistline exceeds the setting on the belt then you will need to unscrew the buckle to readjust the buckle.
Lever buckles for the majority of the year will provide an efficient method of belting up. There are fewer steps to putting on the belt and is far quicker to tighten up for a lift. It would be useful if you used the same setting for both squats and deadlifts.
Stage In Your Career
To save you money, you should probably take a long-term perspective with choosing a belt that you would use long term.
If you are young, new to lifting, or light in bodyweight, you are more likely going to benefit from choosing a belt that is 10mm and a length that may be on the longer side. This is because you may find that you will naturally grow in size and waistline as you build more muscle or grow taller. You will grow into the size of the belt over time.
If you are looking to lose weight, you may want to choose a belt that is lightly on the shorter side as you will slowly reduce the waistline.
The size of the belt is correlated to your weight, height, and waistline. You should always take a long-term perspective when choosing a powerlifting belt. Most powerlifters will find that a 10mm thickness will last them for a lifetime and that the 13mm thickness does not necessarily provide more value. Most people will find that 4-inch width will be completely manageable but some people may find that it is too wide and digs in. If you have an opportunity to try someone else’s belt then it would be best.