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To move big weight safely, a quality belt is a must. Here, Ray Hensley, the owner of Ikarus Athletics (ikarusathletics.com) and a competitive Olympic weightlifter, breaks down three key points before buying your new lifting buddy.
1. MATERIALS MATTER.
“The difference between high-quality belts from brands such as Inzer, Pioneer, and my brand, Ikarus Athletics, and the belts you buy off Amazon are the materials used,” says Hensley. Look for belts that use real leather and have clean stitching. Also, remember that you get what you pay for—more than $100 for a quality belt is normal and worth the investment, Hensley says. “A low-quality belt will last a few years, but a belt from my brand or Pioneer or Inzer—you’ll never have to replace it unless you want to.”
2. KNOW YOUR STYLE.
There are two main types of belts that you’ll have to choose from—power belts and Olympic belts. The former is “the gold standard for powerlifters,” Hensley says. “They’re much larger [four inches wide] to add more support for more core stability.” On the other hand, an Olympic weightlifting belt—which is four inches in the back and 2.5 inches in the front—is tapered to give you more wiggle room as you drop low to catch a clean or snatch weight overhead. Lastly, Hensley wanted to improve upon the Velcro nylon belts that most lifters associate with the words cheap and ineffective. He calls his model the Adaptive Performance Belt. “It’s fully adjustable,” he says. “CrossFitters love it because they can cinch it tight for deadlifts but then loosen it while keeping it on for handstand pushups.”
3. BUCKLE OR LEVER?
Among noncompetitive lifters, a power belt is the most standard choice. And there are two types of strap-in options that one can choose from: levers or buckles. The former allows you to tighten and loosen the belt more quickly compared with the buckle, while the latter option has a greater range of waist size. If you gain or lose weight, you’ll still be able to fit into the belt, while a lever version requires the lifter to unscrew the mechanism and shift its position on the leather to better fit the waist. Here, it’s all about preference.