What do I need? Weightlifting Belt or Powerlifting Belt

The most common questions we have in the Getstrength store with regards to weight training belts are “Do I need a Weightlifting Belt or Powerlifting Belt?” and “what is the difference?” …….

Let’s start with by explaining the difference:

 Weightlifting and Powerlifting Belt

As you see in the picture above, the main difference is the tongue, the tongue on the Powerlifting Belt is 100 mm and the belt is the same width over the entire belt. The Weightlifting Belt has a tongue width of 60 mm, and a back brace of 100 mm. The Weightlifting Belt also has a lower back pad seen in the picture below:

Weightlifting belt pad

The buckles are different as well, the Powerlifting Belt in the picture above has a quick release prong, and the Weightlifting Belt has a double single prong.  You can, however, get a Powerlifting Belt with difference buckle options.  Quick release buckle as above, single and double prong plus the leaver option, re pic below: this is purely a preference of the individual lifter. During my Powerlifting career, I always preferred the double prong quick release buckle for ease of adjustment on and off.powerbelt leaver

The thickness of a Powerlifting can vary, but to compete in an IPF Powerlifting contest* it can be no thicker than 10 mm,  The Powerlifting Belt is very stiff and rugged and does not flex with the body, where the Weightlifting Belt is softer and flexes with the body more.  re pic below: Weightlifting Belt White, Powerlifting Belt Black


Now to answer the question

Do I need a Weightlifting Belt or Powerlifting Belt?

let start by asking what exercises are you concentrating on in the gym and are you wanting to compete in Olympic Weightlifting or Powerlifting contests in the future.

Now if your main exercise focus is power movements i.e Squat/ Deadlift etc, your best belt would be the Powerlifting Belt, because it will give you full back support and keep your lower back from bowing caused by the belt having no or little flex. Plus you can push your abdominal wall into the belt at the bottom of the squat and deadlift, to give you support and a (tightness feeling through your core)

The main objected in the squat/deadlift is to keep the body tight throughout the full movement to prevent injuries and providing the maximal power output.

On a side note, you can still use a Weightlifting Belt for power movements but you will not get the same support. However, if you do wish to you use a Weightlifting Belt in a Powerlifting contest (IPF) you will need to remove the back padding as this is not approved. ( this is just a matter of cutting it out with a blade)

If your main goal is Olympic Weightlifting movements i.e Snatch/ Clean and Jerk, you would require the Weightlifting Belt as this will provide back support but not cause any limitations throughout the movement. The belt allows for the full movement to be completed without the belt getting in the way between the stomach and quads, hence the reason why it is narrow in the front of the belt (60 mm) With the bar being in front of the body during the clean the body is pulled forward at the bottom of the clean this is where the Powerlifting Belt would cause issue being so thick and  stiff at 100 mm.

I hope this makes it a little clearer when purchasing your next belt, the belt is something that you can have for a lifetime so make sure its right!

As for the Powerlifting belt, we recommend the STOIC LIFTING BELTS SINGLE PRONG (IPF Approved) or the LiftingLarge 13mm Single Prong Powerlifting Belt (IPF Approved)

WeightLifting Belts we recommend Iron Bull Strength Weight Lifting Belt

Getstrength.com is New Zealand’s number one supplier of Strength Training Accessories since 2001.


Steve Thompson

Steve is a New Zealand Powerlifting Record holder and founder of Getstrength.com. He has competed in two IPF World Powerlifting Championships. Steve holds four New Zealand Powerlifting records and two All-round Weightlifting World records. Competed in the sport of Powerlifting for more than 18 years. Specialties: strength and conditioning.