How to Pick Your First Belt for Powerlifting

by Ryan Stinn

So you’ve been lifting for a while and you are ready to slap on your first real lifting belt, not that flimsy thing with the weird padded back that you found at your local Walmart. Now there are options and decisions and you aren’t really sure if you need 10mm or 13mm, lever or prong, is it worth the money to go up to a Wahlanders or SBD? Well I’m going to help to break down some of these for you and help you get on your way to a bigger squat!

Firstly I don’t want to argue the need for a belt or if it’s cheating to wear one. If you want to squat and deadlift without a belt, all the power to you! That said research has shown that belting up will increase intra-abdominal pressure and thus offer protective effects for your spine, and I’m not sure about you but I only have one spine so I’ll take that please. That said I’ve done plenty of training cycles without the belt to make sure I’m learning to use my core musculature and brace property. Putting a belt over a poorly braced core will help but less than if you learn to properly brace first. Enough of that lets move on. 

Secondly we also sell a Rehband soft belt and a back support belt that are more targeted towards Strongman/Strongwoman or functional training like Crossfit. I’m also not going to cover those here. 

Onto it, which belt should you buy? I’ll start by saying I’ve used all of these belts with the exception of an Inzer Prong belt, my first belt was a 13mm Prong belt but it was from an old company that no longer exists. My favorite belts to use are lever belts, I really like my belt tight, at least most of the time. 

Inzer Belts

Prong vs Lever

They are both great options but as I said I like a lever for the ease of getting the belt tight, and then getting it off quick. The Inzer 10mm Lever belt is the most popular belt we sell, easy to get tight but difficult to adjust the tightness. The lever belt’s biggest downfall is the adjustment, needing a screwdriver or a coin to move the lever position, it can take a few minutes. So this means if you like your belt tighter for deadlifts vs squats then you will need to go through this before your workouts. Certainly not a deal breaker but that’s where the Inzer 10mm Prong belt comes in. Much easier to adjust if you like to have a loose belt for warm ups then tighten up as the weight gets heavy this is the way to go. You can probably get it as tight as a lever belt, or at least almost, but it’s going to take some work to get it there. The prong belt will really need some time to break in to make it easier to get on and off and get it tight. 

10mm vs 13mm

For most people I would say get a 10mm and don’t look back, especially for size medium or smaller, an Inzer 13mm belt is so stiff that it can be tough to work with. The 10mm will provide more than enough stability and support while breaking in quicker and more easily. Now as you get into the larger sizes XL and up the 13mm might be a bit more of a benefit as generally you are a bigger person putting more pressure back against the belt. However in most cases I would still recommend a 10mm just for ease of break in and once the belt breaks in and moulds to your body it will feel even better. 

Personal preference what it is I would recommend a 10mm Inzer Lever belt for those looking for a budget friendly belt that will last you forever. 

Now to get into the upgraded options.

Wahlanders Belts

Wahlanders belts are a very unique option. They feature a quick release prong system that works very well to get the belt off easily and with a bit of practice you can get it as tight as you can a regular prong belt, possibly tighter even. They are beautiful, handmade in Sweden and very high quality leather. Eleiko sells a powerlifting belt and they are made by Wahlanders, so that should tell you of the quality. 

Now besides the unique buckle system and high quality they also offer another unique option. The Soft Core version of the belt features a flexible centre core, offering more side wall flexibility to allow the belt to form better to your body. Many smaller lifters with short torsos have found this a real lifesaver, or at least pain saver. Often times with a short torso the stiff belts will dig into the ribs and pelvis painfully, the Soft Core Wahlanders belt will flex more and should relieve a lot of that pain. Furthermore because the centre core of the soft belt is man made these belts can be made in a vegan option with artificial suede and leather completing the look. 

SBD Apparel Belt

Last but certainly not least, the big kahuna. The SBD belt took the powerlifting community by storm when it was released in 2016. Many a lifter said “why didn’t I think of that?” SBD put a lot of work into their patented double hinge lever system to allow you to very easily get the belt very tight with less pinching. The SBD belt is 100% made in the United Kingdom with materials from the United Kingdom, this isn’t a cheaply made imported leather with a big name stamped on it. Each belt is inspected and assembled at the SBD facility before being carefully packaged and shipped out. 

The SBD belt checks all the boxes: easy to adjust, easy to get super tight, easy to get off quickly. It really is the best belt on the market if you want to be able to get your belt as tight as possible. If you want to see what goes into making these belts SBD produced a documentary about it, hosted by the legendary Bill Kazmaier.

I hope I have helped to clear up some questions about the belts we carry. We only carry products we believe in and believe are good quality, so we know you will be happy with each and every one of these. If you have any questions, use the contact page to reach out, we’d be happy to answer them for you!