Weightlifting belts can be a polarizing topic. Depending on who you ask you can get a definitive yes, no, or sometimes. Although this appears clear as mud, the opinions of each group are typically a direct result of their gym styles. Powerlifters almost always use a weightlifting belt for training and competition. Combat style (Crossfitters) typically never wear a belt, strap, wrap or other support items. Bodybuilders can be seen with or without a belt depending on the individual.
A weightlifting belt is meant to stabilize your trunk (abdominal core) while lifting heavy weights during compound movements. For example, a weightlifting belt would be perfect for deadlifts, squats, overhead squat, snatch, clean/jerk, etc. Proponents of belts will tell you it allows them to lift heavier weights and prevent injuries. Opponents of belts will tell you it inhibits range-of-motion and artificially increases the back strength of the athlete.
It took an injury for me to even try a weightlifting belt. I had taken some time off the gym and when I returned I went heavy and trained hard. The result was a minor tear to my thoracolumbar fascia, aka my lower back. I couldn’t believe how debilitating a back injury could be. I needed help putting on my shoes and I couldn’t do anything that resulted in me bending down. After I recovered from that injury I swore that I would never suffer another back injury again.
Initially, I attempted to remove compound movements from my workouts (ex. replaced squats with leg press, replaced push-press with hammer press machine). This worked, but I felt like I was missing major elements in my fitness. Isolation and supported lifting is great, but you also need to get the entire body involved in lifts to promote an all-purpose athlete. After speaking with my doctor, he suggested I look at getting a weightlifting belt. He also cautioned that I ease into these exercises to make sure I don’t reinjure myself.
I discovered that there are several different types of weightlifting belts. The major categories include: powerlifting belts, bodybuilding belts, neoprene/Velcro belts, and wraps. All of the belts are used to support your trunk, however, the quality of the support varies greatly. Each belt has its pros and cons. Maybe you don’t need as much support as someone doing 500lb deadlifts. You will need to determine which type of belt works best for you. I initially chose a bodybuilding belt made from nylon with a quick release buckle. This worked well until the buckle started to wear out and the nylon began to stretch. I decided to upgrade to the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt.
I would place this belt in the high-end bodybuilding category. Rogue Fitness is a well known company that produces gym equipment, clothing, wraps, straps, belts and more. The Ohio belt is hand-made and under goes a vegetable tanning process. Rogue fitness explains, “The vegetable tanning process means you’ll receive a belt with a softer feel that is just as strong as the rest, with a break-in time that is nearly nonexistent”.
Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt
- Width — 4”
- Color — Brown
- Thickness — 10mm
- Sizes — S, M, L, XL, XXL
Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt Size Chart
- S — 24-31”
- M — 27-34”
- L — 32-39”
- XL — 36-43”
- XXL — 40-47”
It is important that you actually measure the area on your body where you will wear the belt. Rogue fitness uses actual measurement and not vanity sizing. The United States is famous for using vanity sizes while marketing clothes. Vanity sizing is the process of labelling clothes with arbitrary numbers rather than the actual measurement. Typically, we Americans want to feel better about ourselves at every turn and vanity sizing does this. Think your waist is actually the same size as your pants size? Think again. Measure before you purchase or you will most likely have to do an exchange. I came in at 33” and decided to go with large. When I tighten the belt for a lift I have three holes left on the belt, so there is room for me to grow, or cut as needed.
My initial thought of the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt was quality. The hardware is strong, the stitching is uniform, and the fit was perfect. I will need to do some breaking in as it is a bit stiffer than I personally like. Coming in at $108.00 this belt will not be for everyone. If you are undecided about weightlifting belts and you want to try one, then I would look for a neoprene one which are significantly cheaper ($19-$50). However if you know you are going to use a belt often, and want high-quality with high-performance, look no farther than the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt.