Top 10 Rogue Weightlifting Belts in 2020
Quick conclusion: If you don’t want to read the entire article, here is the best Rogue weightlifting belt that I recommend:
Put simply, it’s the best all-purpose weight lifting belt that I’ve found.
The Greek mathematician, Archimedes, is credited with saying, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world.” He didn’t really say it in English, and if I left it in the original Greek no one would understand.
Pretty impressive weightlifting feat, though, don’t you think? Now just imagine how much more weight he could move with a proper weightlifting belt, to help protect and strengthen his core, abs, and back.
Weightlifting is a pretty simple sport, if you get right down to it. Grab something and lift it up. Move it around as prescribed. Put it back where you found it. Repeat as desired.
Where weightlifting tends to get complicated is when you apply a multi-level matrix comprised of the type of lifting (training, weightlifting, powerlifting) you are doing, the muscle groups you are working on improving, the equipment you are using, and the type or variety of lift you are doing to impact those muscle groups.
Let’s look at each of these elements in isolation, and then in the total context of each other. Weightlifting is generally divided into three segments – weight (or resistance) training, weightlifting, and powerlifting. Let’s define each.
Weight training typically involves using lighter weight, or even none at all, just body weight, and doing a relatively high number of repetitions. Each group of repetitions, or reps, is called a set. So, you may do ten reps with 50 pounds of weight per set (lifting 50 pounds ten times), then, in your exercise session, do three sets.
Each set is either followed by a short rest, or doing a different set working different muscle groups. Moving from one exercise to another, with little rest in between is known as circuit training. The objective of weight training is body toning (turning flab into muscle) and general health improvement.
Weightlifting is the next step up from weight training. It involves using heavier weights, almost as much you can lift, for just a few times. The stress these heavy weights put on the particular muscle group, with proper rest and continued training, can lead to significant muscle growth.
Weightlifters typically find out their one rep maximum lift – the weight that they can lift only one time – and then work out with a percentage of that weight, usually 75 – 85% of it. In time, their one rep max will increase, and then the weight used in their workout will increase accordingly.
Powerlifting is the last and final step in the weightlifting spectrum. Powerlifting places its emphasis on the sheer strength of the lifter, not technique or flexibility. Powerlifters may lift as much as three times their body weight.
There are three distinct lifts in a powerlifting competition – the squat, which emphasizes leg power; the bench press, which measures upper body strength; and the dead lift, which displays gripping strength and back power. During a competition, the lifter’s best weight from each lift type is recorded, and the highest total of the three lifts wins the competition. Lifters are divided into weight classes based on their size to even out the competition.
So, how and why does a weight lifting belt come into play in each of these three scenarios? We’ll look at that in some detail in the next section. The next two elements of the matrix are the target muscle group, and the specific lifts and movements you will do to stimulate it.
We just looked at that a little in our description of powerlifting. It’s really not much different in weightlifting or weight training. There are specific exercises designed to work your legs, arms, core, back, etc. The variation, as noted above, is in the amount of weight you use in your lifts, and the number of times you repeat those lifts.
Equipment is the last piece of our matrix puzzle. The first thing you need is weight. You may do only exercises with your body weight; think pull-ups and pushups. Or you may do similar exercises with a barbell, or weightlifting bar, and weight plates.
You can do your sets with just a bar and plates, or you can facilitate those sets with other equipment, such as power racks, squat racks, and weight benches. The last piece of equipment that comes into play is for personal protection; examples include weightlifting gloves, safety pipes and straps, spotters, and weightlifting belts.
We are going to focus this article on weightlifting belts. We’ll gain an understanding of their key features, take a look at ten specific belts from Rogue Fitness, review and rate them, and then, finally, pick the best of the best, covering a couple different scenarios.
Let’s get started.
THE WEIGHTLIFTING BELT
While it is admittedly lacking photos or other documentation, one of the earliest belts was worn by Milo of Croton in ancient Greece. He reportedly carried a calf up a mountain every day to build strength, and, as the calf grew and got heavier, he got stronger. After a while, the calf was not needed, so he apparently had him for lunch, and made a belt from the hide. Norse legend also has strongman Thor (yes, that Thor) wearing a special belt that increased his strength.
To get a little closer to the modern era, weightlifting belts made appearances in strongman contests and lifting exhibitions in the mid-1800s. In the 1896 Olympics, the first in which weightlifting appeared as a sport, several competitors wore belts to help increase their lifts.
By the 1940s, as weightlifting grew in prominence and practice, belts became more and more common. With the development of powerlifting federations in the 1960s, weightlifting belts became an accepted part of the sport.
We now know a little bit about the history of weightlifting belts, but what exactly is a belt, and what is it supposed to do? As far as typical features, a weightlifting belt is normally four to six inches wide, and is secured at the waist by either a buckle or other type of fastener, such as Velcro. Most are made of leather, although others are made of synthetic materials like nylon.
Some belts will have a consistent width all the way around; others will be wider in the back. A weightlifting belt should help you with proper breathing techniques during a heavy lift, and enhance your personal safety by stabilizing your core and spine.
So, what does a belt do for you during a heavy lift? Before we get into that, let’s look at what is involved in lifting a heavy weight. Your core is key to lifting, but your core is soft and flexible by nature. It needs to be so you can bend, twist, and move forward and backward.
But when you’re lifting, you don’t want a soft core; you want it rigid, like a board. Holding your breath and tightening your torso creates that rigidity. This happens naturally; think about lifting something heavy or even pushing a car.
So how does a weightlifting belt fit into this scenario? First, it helps keep your spine stable and in a neutral, straight position. Having the spine out of alignment, when lifting heavy weights, could very likely result in a back injury. Second, and more importantly, the weightlifting belt is to help you control your breathing during a lift.
This stabilizes your core, and the belt gives you something to push those core muscles against. The belt, then, gives you indirect support by giving your core something to push against to establish the rigidity it needs.
Other noted benefits to wearing a belt are to increase the pressure in your abdominal area, which in turn helps improve core strength, and keeps the spine in proper position to lift heavy weights. Proper biomechanics, enhanced by wearing a belt, will greatly reduce spinal flex, and push you into lifting more with your legs than your back. It can also increase muscle activity in other parts of your body, particularly your legs.
Why wouldn’t you wear a weightlifting belt? What are the potential risks or drawbacks from wearing one?
Many lifters recovering from injury, particularly back injuries, wear a belt thinking a belt will protect them from future injury. This is not the case, however, as the belt will not sufficiently protect the spine when lifting very heavy weights. Others argue that, while a belt will strengthen your core, once you take it off, and lack that support, the muscles will actually be weaker, and unable to handle the same weights you had been lifting with the belt.
For most lifters, a belt is really not needed, as the majority of exercises do not place an excessive amount of strain on the lower back. Many recommend a belt only if you are a powerlifter, or doing deadlifts, citing the false security a belt can leave you when you lift without one.
Fact Sheet – Product Comparison Table
Time to take a high-level review of each of the ten Rogue weightlifting belts. You’ll get a brief review of each belt, and indication of the price range (see key below this table), and a rating from 0.0 to 5.0.
This rating is based on submitted reviews from actual Rogue customers for each of these belts. At the end of this article, I’ll throw in my opinion, for what it’s worth, about which belts have the best features, functionality, and overall purchase value.
|Number||Product||Best Feature||Rating||Price Range (See Below)|
Rogue Oly Ohio Lifting Belt
|Top of the Rogue line, with a unique hole spacing pattern to allow a perfect fit.||(5 / 5)||$$$|
Rogue Premium Ohio Lifting Belt
|High quality, top performance, all leather belt, with fast break-in time||(5 / 5)||$$$|
Rogue Black Leather 13mm – 4″ Lever Belt
|Unique locking system, different than standard buckle. Delivers strong, consistent back support.||(5 / 5)||$$$|
Rogue USA Nylon Lifting Belt
|Developed with a CrossFit games champion, belt is nylon, with Velcro rather than a standard buckle||(4.9 / 5)||$|
Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt
|Strong, long-lasting leather belt, offering firm support. Geared for the serious lifter.||(4.9 / 5)||$$$|
Rogue Faded 4″ Lifting Belt by Pioneer
|Custom dyed, very attractive leather belt. Unique two- hole system allows better fit than standard one-hole system belts.||(4.9 / 5)||$$$|
Rogue Echo 10mm Lifting Belt
|Black leather featuring a large Rogue logo, 4” wide, 10MM thick specs.||(4.8 / 5)||$$|
Rogue 5″ Nylon Weightlifting Belt
|Another nylon belt, offering 5” of back support. Light but durable.||(4.7 / 5)||$|
Schiek 2004 Lifting Belt
|Lightweight, matching natural body shapes, Velcro fasteners and optional suspenders||(4.7 / 5)||$$|
Schiek 2004 Lifting Belt – Stars and Stripes
|The same as the Schiek belt above, but with a patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme. Two-year warranty.||(4.7 / 5)||$$|
Price Range Key:
$ – Less than $50
$$ – $50 – $100
$$$ – More than $100
We noted above that the majority of people involved in weight training do not really need a weightlifting belt. Resistance training falls into that group, since lifting lighter weights several times.
So, as we start to look into the details of weightlifting belts in this section, our real audience will be the weightlifters and powerlifters. These two segments typically lift the heaviest weights, and have the most to gain from use of a weightlifting belt.
Following are some of the main specifications and features that might influence your decision on whether to buy a belt, and, if so, which one. Later in the article we will go through each of the ten belts in more detail, and review which of these features are present or not present in these belts.
Thickness of the weightlifting belt will have direct correlation to the amount of support it generates. The thickness may be entirely from the material of construction, or there may be a lining material sewn in between two panels of the material.
As you look to lift heavier and heavier weights, the thickness of the belt increases in importance. Note, however, that a thicker belt may take a longer “breaking in” period before it can be moved into everyday use.
Historically, (remember the story about the Greek cow lifter?), weight lifting belts have been made from leather. Leather, when properly tanned and dried, is a strong material, relatively cheap, and has the structural integrity to maintain support for your back and core.
Recently, belts made from other materials, primarily nylon, have been introduced. The trade-off for their lower cost is typically strength; that may or may not matter based on your personal lifting habits.
Just as belts for everyday use, weightlifting belts come in different lengths. The overall length of the belt, in conjunction with the hole spacing (discussed below), will determine the fit on the lifter. Belts in this group range from five sizes available to seven sizes available, so, depending on your personal circumstances, this may drive your purchasing decision.
When considering waist measure, bear in mind that the belt sizes do not correspond to pants waist sizes. And additionally, Rogue is clear in their web descriptions, that their sizes will be different from those of their competitors. Be sure to follow the instructions, for the specific Rogue belt you are contemplating, to make sure you order the correct size.
These belts are made up of multiple layers of material, possibly including a separate liner, and stitching is required to hold these layers together. The durability of the stitching will be key to the durability of the belt. Depending on the features of the belt, there may be a single or a double layer of stitches around the belt.
Buckles and Fasteners
The strength of the buckle or fastener on the belt is also key. The belt must be adjusted tightly to offer the core support necessary, and, if there is slippage during the lift, the support will decrease. Buckles may be the standard type like day to day belts, special locking types, or, in the case of other fabrics, may be made of Velcro or other materials.
The width, as with the material and waist measure fit, contribute to the strength and support of the belt. Width may vary on belts, with the front of the belt increasing to a wider back section, or the belt may be a standard width all the way around.
The width will also play a key part in the comfort of the belt. While you want it wide enough to give good support, it should not be so high that it cuts into the back or abdomen.
Belt interior liner
Some belts have specially textured interior lining, that will fit against your body or clothing. This rougher inside will help to stop the belt from moving side to side or up and down during the lift.
Some of these ten belts have a warranty noted, others don’t, so best to check with the customer service group to find out for sure, if the belts are covered. While some feel that top end belt should be good for lift, others feel that the structural integrity will weaken over time and it should be replaced. For nylon or fabric type belts, it’s more likely the Velcro fastener will fail before the belt does.
To extract the full benefits of a weightlifting belt, proper fit is integral. The belt should be tight, probably tighter than you think, but not so tight as to restrict your breathing, so it’s a fine line. The distance between holes in the belt is key to getting this proper fit.
Most belts have holes spaced one inch apart, but some of the belts in this section have a special hold alignment system that gives you hole increments of one-half inch. Velcro and some other type fasteners give you virtually limitless possibilities to adjust the tightness of the belt.
Some of these belts do list a weight specification; most do not. Realistically, a few ounces either way in the weight of the belt are not going to make a big difference to you, especially when you are throwing around hundreds of pounds of bar and plates.
When it comes to weightlifting belts, there is not much in the way of optional equipment available. Some belts offer suspenders as an option, which help hold the belt in position during the lift. Others offer some aesthetic enhancements, like special panels where decorative patches can be put in place.
Price plays a consideration in just about every purchasing decision you make. But you should always remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” Overall value is more important than the actual price you pay. When you put buying a weight belt in the context of buying a barbell, weight plates, a specialty rack, or a weightlifting bench, the actual price is not such an important consideration.
Making your decision
The cheapest belt here will save you about a “Benjamin” from the most expensive. The price difference between the three most expensive belts here is covered by a couple cups of coffee. Bottom line here, buy the belt that’s right for you, and don’t be fixated on the price. The overall value, driven by functionality, form and fit, should be your primary concern.
By now you’ve seen the purpose of a weightlifting belt, the context in which it should be used, and some of the primary features and specifications that will factor into your buying decision. Let’s look individually at each of the ten belts, which will ultimately lead us to our “best of the best” decision.
Top 10 Best List
Designed for the Olympic lifter, this belt tends to stay away from looks and fashion, and moves right to the crux of lifting belts – strength and stability.
Tapering up from 2” at the front to 4” at the back, it has a shielded buckle to prevent accidental snags on clothing, and the narrower front reduces the chances for accidental bar contact.
Features and Specifications:
If you are a weightlifter starting to go heavy, or a powerlifter already throwing around a lot of weight, this is a great choice for you. No nonsense, immediately usable right out of the box, and a 5.0 review from your peers. Don’t let the $$$ price scare you away from a great value belt.
This attractive, natural looking, brown leather belt is also a premium powerlifting belt. Made of bridle leather, which has more natural oils, this belt will be a durable, long-lasting part of your equipment even with daily, high intensity use.
Features and Specifications:
Even with a $$$ price, this is a top-quality belt. It has a 5.0 rating, and all the reviews are very favorable as to fit, comfort, and strength. One reviewer compared it to wearing a tree trunk around your waist. It also has some flair and style, with a burnished leather look.
Utilizing a patented lever-lock system instead of the normal buckle, this belt is certified by the International Powerlifting Federation. In an all-black design, it provides stylish looks with the strength to support even the heaviest lifts.
Features and Specifications:
With a 5.0 review, you will be getting a quality powerlifting belt. The $$$ price is premium also, but based on the reviews, a belt you will be using for quite a while. The belt is a good combination of fit, form, and functionality.
Available in five sizes and three colors, this nylon belt was co-developed by two-time CrossFit champ Mat Fraser. It tapers from 5” to 4” back to front, with a 3” wide nylon Velcro closing strap. USA-made, it was used by Fraser in his 2017 CrossFit games title.
Features and Specifications:
This is a budget-priced belt that offers good support and fit. Very positive reviews from users of the belt point to solid structure and functionality, and no loss of support versus leather belts. If you are wavering on getting a belt for the first time, this would be a good choice with minimal risk to your wallet.
This is a hand-crafted, American made, 4” wide leather weight lifting belt. It is made, and priced, for the serious lifter, evidenced by its full ten-mm thickness (which may vary somewhat based on the leather properties). A natural, deep brown leather, it comes in five sizes from 21” to 45”.
Features and Specifications:
As with pretty much every belt we’ve looked at so far, it has very good reviews and looks to be a great value for a serious lifter. It might be a bit much for a novice lifter, but it will definitely fit the needs of a veteran weightlifter.
In a nod to fashion, Rogue has given this leather belt a faded look, making it not only functional but also a little dressy. This 4” wide, 8.5MM thick belt has a black suede liner, and carries a solid 4.9 review rating.
Features and Specifications:
An attractive belt, with all the built-in quality you would expect. You are paying a bit of a price penalty for the appearance and also the hole sizing, but not enough to discourage any serious lifters to move away from this belt. Others may be a little better value, so it comes down to the importance of the faded look to you.
This may be the ultimate in a no-frills belt – five sizes, ten adjustment holes, 4” width, 10MM thick, black with a Rogue logo. Take it or leave it. Just breaking the $$ plane, it is a fully functional belt at a budget price.
Features and Specifications:
This weightlifting belt just barely breaks out of the $ cost range, so it represents a very good value when measured by price and functionality. It’s not at all frilly or fancy, but just looking at it seems to say “you can lift a little more”.
Much like the Echo belts above, this is a no-frills, budget-conscious weightlifting belt, with the major difference being the nylon construction of this belt. It tapers from 5” at the back to 3” in the front. This imported belt is lightweight yet durable, offering support for both your abs and lower back.
Features and Specifications:
If you are not sure, if you want, or even need, a weightlifting belt, you can buy this one for very little cash and see if it makes sense for you to wear a belt. Go into the purchase knowing this is not a lifetime purchase, and you are not going to get the support from this belt that other nylon and leather belts will offer. But it will help you decide, if a belt is right for you.
This American made nylon belt is available in four colors and five sizes. It offers a contoured design, with a 4.75” height in front and back, with tapered sides to reduce pinching and friction. A steel buckle and Velcro fasteners give you an exact fit, and the belt is light enough to support your entire workout.
Features and Specifications:
If you think the 5” nylon weightlifting belt might be too far down the price list, this belt could be a good alternative to it. It’s priced similarly to other nylon belts, with similar functionality, so it really comes down to whether or not you see advantages to the design, options, or color choices.
- 1It comes with an (admittedly attractive) red, white and blue stars and stripes design.
- 2This design adds ten bucks to the price.
Features and Specifications:
I have the exact same final impressions as above, with one addition. If you have a female weightlifting friend that would like to adopt the Wonder Woman look, this is the belt for her.
Before we get into choosing the best weightlifting belts, let’s take a look back at what we’ve covered so far. In the introduction, we talked about three subdivisions of weight lifting; weight training, weight lifting, and powerlifting.
We talked briefly about how a belt fits into the picture. We looked into the belt itself – functions and functionality. We discussed why it might be right or wrong for someone to use a belt.
We then broke it an overview of the ten belts, followed by a discussion on what features are important in a weightlifting belt, and how they can help you make a decision about the suitability of the belt for your needs.
After that, we did a deep dive into each of the ten different belts, talking about their specs and features, the pros and cons of each belt, and overall impressions of the belts. And now it is time to make some recommendations.
I want to break this down and look into the choices from two different perspectives. My first group will consist of novice weight trainers or weight lifters, and I will also add in weightlifters with some experience, but now trying to get to heavier lifting levels, maybe even trying to cross the threshold into powerlifting.
My second group will be established powerlifters. They may be looking to replace an older belt, upgrade a cheaper one, or just buy a top of the line weightlifting belt.
Each of these two groups will have a different set of needs and wants, and therefore will be looking at two different sets of belts. I’m going to break our total of ten belts into two groups of five each, admittedly, somewhat arbitrarily, but we’ve got to start somewhere. And let’s have that starting point be our novice group.
This group will be looking at budget-friendly belts, as they don’t want to drop a lot of money on a belt without knowing if they are really going to reap any benefit from it. So, again for the sake of argument, we’re going to give them some $ and $$ price belts as an assortment to shop from. They will have a choice of 4 nylon and one leather belt in this group. The four nylon belts are:
#4 – USA Nylon Lifting Belt
#7 – Echo 10MM Leather Belt
#8 – 5” Nylon Weightlifting Belt
#9 – Schiek 2004 Nylon Lifting Belt
#10 – Schiek 2004 Nylon Stars and Stripes
All right then, let’s start the process. The first decision is which type of belt you want – leather or nylon. Let’s get the easy one out of the way. If you are interested in a budget-friendly, functional, no frills leather belt, to with the Echo 10MM.
You get a solid 4.8 review to accompany a (just barely) $$ price. The next leather belt up the scale is over double the price, and I couldn’t in good faith recommend that jump to a novice or even somewhat experienced weightlifter.
So, the winner for this group, for anyone preferring a leather belt, is #7, the Echo 10MM Belt.
That leaves our four nylon belts for anyone with that preference. I’m eliminating the 5” Nylon belt (#8), despite the $ price. It has a 4.7 quality rating, which isn’t bad, but the price jump from this belt to higher rated quality belts in the $$ range is fairly insignificant. Next to drop from the list is the Schiek Stars and Stripes belt. It has a 4.7 rating, but, frankly, I’m not paying ten bucks more to dress like Wonder Woman. This leaves the other Schiek belt, and the #4 USA Nylon Lifting Belt.
This is also a pretty easy decision. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the Schiek belt, it does have a 4.7 rating vs. a 4.9 rating for the USA belt. The clincher for me is the combination of the higher rating for the USA belt, and the $ price range that comes with that higher rating.
It’s the best value of the nylon belts, and I would recommend it highly. It’s been competition-proven by a two-time CrossFit champion, and gets high rankings for its fit and structure. A definite two-thumbs-up for me.
This leave us with the second group of five belts. All of them are leather belts, all of them are $$$ price range. Two of the five have a 4.9 rating; the other three are all at 5.0. To recap, we are looking at a group of powerlifters here.
They’ve already spent a fortune on barbells, plates, racks, and benches, so let’s agree that a price different of $35 from bottom end to top end on these belts is not going to matter to them. Therefore, we drop price as a consideration, and focus on the features, specifications, and performance of the five belts.
To recap, these belts are:
#1 – Oly Ohio Belt
#2 – Premium Ohio Belt
#3 – Black Leather 13MM Belt
#5 – Ohio Lifting Belt
#6 – Faded 4” Belt
Since we are not paying attention to price here, but usability, I’m going to slide the #6 belt out of the competition. While it has many favorable factors, the 4.9 rating drops it a notch behind the 5.0 belts. And I think this might be me, but a little too much was made about the faded leather look, which is pretty much irrelevant to performance.
For similar reasons, the #5 Ohio belt drops out also. It’s a good, solid, 10MM belt, and compares favorably to the #2 and #3 belts above. I would feel comfortable recommending it to anyone in the powerlifting sector, but the rating factor is just enough penalty to remove it from “best of the best” competition.
And then there were three. There are two main differentiators here. First, the #1 belt, the Oly Ohio, is a tapered belt, slimming from a 4” width in the back to 2” width in the front. It’s inconclusive, not fact based as far as I can see, but my research indicates that a lot of powerlifters just do not like tapered belts; they prefer a standard width all the way around. So, I’m going to put this one on the chopping block also, leaving the #2 and #3 belts from our list.
This is where the second differentiator comes into play. Flip back in your mind to the section on key features and specifications you should consider when selecting a weight belt. In case you don’t remember, here’s what I said about thickness;
“Thickness of the weightlifting belt will have direct correlation to the amount of support it generates. The thickness may be entirely from the material of construction, or there may be a lining material sewn in between two panels of the material. As you look to lift heavier and heavier weights, the thickness of the belt increases in importance.”
The Premium Ohio Belt, #2, has a 10MM thickness, .39 inches. The Black Leather Belt has 13MM thickness, or .51 inches. It sounds pretty inconsequential, doesn’t it? But look at it this way – if someone were going to punch you in the stomach, wouldn’t you appreciate a little bit of extra strength protection?
For the powerlifter, that little bit of extra support might be the difference between a regular lift and a personal best record, and that’s what this sport is all about.
So, there you have it. Your best of the best weightlifting belt for the powerlifting set – the Rogue Black Leather 13MM 4” Lifting Belt. If you have any doubts about this, look at the International Powerlifting Federation seal at the bottom left.
Let me reiterate; you can’t go wrong with any of these five leather belts. Put price back in as a consideration and you might get an entirely different answer. And remember one thing as we end this article – “Hug your kids, but belt your powerlifter.” Happy lifting.