While some athletes will turn up their noses at using weightlifting belts for CrossFit, there are just as many who swear by having a belted friend during heavy lifts.
It comes down to personal preferences and strength, but there’s absolutely no shame in using a belt to lift weights, provided you’re using it correctly. The right belts can give you a range of benefits, from helping you improve your technique to hitting new PRs.
Here’s a roundup of the eight best weightlifting belts for CrossFit and a handy buying guide to lead you through future purchases!
The 8 Best Weightlifting Belts for CrossFit
Before we go into our top 8 picks, here are the parameters we used to pick out the belts—packaging, smell (some belts have a very strong smell), design, reliability, stitching, material, value for money, and support capabilities.
Now, onto our top 8!
If you’re looking for a versatile all-rounder, you can’t hope to do better than the Rogue USA Nylon Lifting Belt. This brand has been at the top of its game (and hence, at the top of the market) for a while now, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to relinquish this hold any time soon.
This stylish, efficient, and flexible offering from Rogue has two-time CrossFit Games champion Mat Fraser’s backing, and its laser-etched logo, sexy design, well-positioned adjustable clasp, and the possibility of placing a custom patch are just some of this belt’s excellent features.
This nylon lifting belt has a four-inch width in front and five inches at the back, with a thickness (foam padding) of a quarter of an inch. The build quality can’t be faulted, and you even have five excellent styles to choose from. Newer models also include a blacked-out metal belt for smoother size adjustments on the fly.
Overall, this is a great belt for CrossFit athletes, but it can be a little expensive.
- Comes from a highly reputed brand and is backed by highly reputed names
- Extremely flexible and supportive
- Good value for money
- Despite its excellent support, it’s still not as supportive as some of the other belt options around
- It can be slightly expensive for some
For the best quality-price deal, Iron Bull emerges the unchallenged victor. The brand is known for offering grade-A products for extremely reasonable prices, and this weightlifting belt is no exception.
Great for both newbies and advanced lifters, the Iron Bull Weightlifting Belt is available in sizes extra-small through to large (23 inches to 46 inches), which means that even women or those with smaller body frames can easily find the right fit here. The belt has a width of 5 inches, a buckle, hook, and loop closure, and a body of nylon.
The Iron Bull Weightlifting Belt is extremely reliable, with excellent support and structure. The dual widths (front and back) ensure that even Olympic lifts are comfortable (though bear in mind that a five-inch belt can’t be used in competitions).
The stitching in the belt stands out with its quality, so the only thing that will be unraveling any time soon when using this belt is your potential!
- Is highly reliable and gives you maximum support
- High-quality finish and material combined with a sleek design
- Excellent value for money
- While these won’t take away from the efficiency of the belt, the packaging is pretty poor, which can suck if you want to gift this to someone.
- Some users have complained of a peculiar smell emanating from the belt.
Third on the list is this fine belt from the Fire Team studios—quite special, because unlike other traditional belts meant for powerlifting, this belt features a Velcro closure.
However, you’d be wrong to think that this means a product with inferior supporting capabilities and tightness—the Fire Team Fit Weightlifting Belt can be easily adjusted to give your back the best support possible.
At a little over half a pound, this belt is among the lightweights in the market, making it easy to carry around and adjust.
- Extremely lightweight and easy to handle
- High-quality workmanship and design
- The Velcro closure lets you hit the sweet spot when adjusting the tightness
- Among the more expensive models in the market
- The Velcro closure is a little lacking in sturdiness and doesn’t feature the same double-Velcro closing that many other belts do, which can make max-effort singles while squatting or deadlifting challenging
Featuring decent support capabilities, with a padless and contourless design, and quality stitching, the Element 26 Self-Locking Weightlifting Belt may not be the best in the market, but it can come a pretty close second for many lifters, including those at the intermediate level.
The quick-release/self-locking mechanism makes this a great option for CrossFit competitions and is the feature that gives the belt an edge over its counterparts.
The system not only keeps the buckle supportive and secure even in the most stressful lifts but allows intra-abdominal pressure to subside fast when not lifting. This allows quick transitions between sets and exercises without any compromise in performance.
This catchy belt comes in a range of colors—you’ll be grabbing eyeballs at the gym and not just for your lifting skills! There’s also a fancy packaging option for gifting. The belt is available in sizes XS to XXL (waist range 23 to 50 inches) with a width of 4 inches and a body of nylon.
Despite the lack of padding, the weight distribution is even in this belt, similar to many high-quality leather belts.
- A wide range of sizes and colors
- Good-quality stitching and material
- Good packaging
- Not strong enough for extreme lifting; not sufficiently padded nor does it feature any specific back support or contouring
- Very highly priced
The Bear KompleX weightlifting belt magically combines the comfort of a nylon belt and the adjustability of Velcro while remaining as strong as a heavy-duty leather belt.
You’ll find that the belt is not as stiff as some of the other belts in the market, making it easier to adjust even though it feels like a traditional prong-and-clasp belt. This also means that the belt isn’t going to dig into your torso or abs when working out.
However, some users may find this belt stiffer than other nylon/foam options in the market. Additionally, the width of the belt is five inches, which is a little more than average.
Additionally, this belt has no double-loop fastening system either, as it is with the Fire Team belt mentioned above.
- Is quite comfortable despite the stiffness and quite supportive for a nylon belt
- The finish and quality are of good quality; for example, the Velcro used is military grade
- The slightly larger width makes the belt more efficient
- The closure isn’t as sturdy and strong as other belts
- From an aesthetic viewpoint, the design elements seem incomplete and warrant more work
While many CrossFit athletes would reach for their smelling salts if you told them about a leather belt for weightlifting, this belt proves that leather can also be a good option for CrossFit.
Flexible despite being leather, this genuine-leather ProFitness Workout Belt is solid, versatile, comfortable (once broken in), and affordable. All this comes with the advantage of better support that leather brings to the table.
However, what you’ll be giving up for the look and feel of leather and the support are flexibility and a Velcro closure, making taking off and putting on this belt slightly time consuming.
The width of the belt is four inches, with buckle closure.
- Excellent support
- Versatile; can be used for both powerlifting and CrossFit
- Very reasonable pricing for a leather belt
- Not as flexible as nylon
- Not very popular with CrossFit purists
An excellent budget option, the Gabor Fitness Contoured Neoprene Weightlifting Belt is a Velcro-closure belt with contour support and a neoprene foam body. This is probably the most lightweight and affordable belt in the market (or at least on this list!).
The belt features thick back contour support, which is great for those looking for minimal support, maximum comfort, and good value. The belt is purposely engineered to look flimsy so that it’s easy to store. You can easily and quickly readjust this belt, too.
However, this belt is not for you if the lack of adjustable straps and heavyweight support throws you off. If you’re just looking for a belt that gets you through your beginner WOTD with minimal support, this belt will work for you, but you’re definitely not going to be hitting any PR with this.
- This belt is extremely flexible
- It’s among the most affordable models in the market
- Extremely easy to put on and remove
- Instead of nylon, neoprene is used, which is not as durable or strong, especially for heavy lifts
- Less support compared to other belts
Rounding off the list is another excellent all-rounder. While the back-first design may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it works extremely well for others.
The ultra-light foam core is thick enough to maintain muscle warmth and provide superior comfort during heavy lifts. The thick closed cell is also surprisingly flexible. There’s a long-lasting abrasion-resistant fabric with heavy-gauge steel roller buckles on the belt, all of which help provide additional strength and cushioning for heavy lifting.
The belt is also quite inexpensive, with a price much below the average market rate of belts.
- Excellent support
- Very reasonably priced
- Design not preferred by everyone
- No standout features; can be easily replaced by other models
Weightlifting Belts for CrossFit: A Buying Guide
Sure, we now know which the top eight weightlifting belts for CrossFit are, but if you’re new to weightlifting belts, you may have quite a few questions.
How do you know what makes a good weightlifting belt? Why do you need one? What, even, is a weightlifting belt for CrossFit?
This section should clear up any doubts you have!
What Is a Weightlifting Belt for CrossFit?
Crossfit weight belts are worn around the abdomen to provide extra back support and intra-abdominal pressure to better perform moves that involve lifting heavy weights.
If your gym is frequented by powerlifters, you might have seen several of them wearing these belts while lifting over double their body weight, or while performing dynamic Olympic lifts. Deadlifting 200-plus pounds becomes easier, and more importantly, much safer with the kind of support that a weightlifting belt can provide you with.
Typically, these large belts are made of a mix of foam and nylon or are entirely leather. The weightlifting belts used in CrossFit tend to run thinner, are more flexible, and are less bulky than the ones used for powerlifting, to allow better mobility and wearability in long workout sessions (including stretching).
Since CrossFit involves performing high-intensity interval training (whereas powerlifting involves a slower pace of working out), mobility, flexibility, and wearability are important. This is one of the reasons why elastic materials and nylon are the more popular choices of material for CrossFit weightlifting belts.
How Do CrossFit Weightlifting Belts Help?
While opinions are highly divided over this one, we stand by basic logic. Does the belt help brace the core and back and support both? Does this, in turn, lead to better form, safer lifting, and heavier lifting? The answer is “yes” to both questions.
However, like all things, these belts are only effective when used properly. Used well, they can work wonders for you; improperly used, you’re only inviting more trouble.
Additionally, these belts must never be used to hide a weak back or core; they only support or supplement the strength that already exists with a little added stability.
Here’s how weightlifting belts in CrossFit can help:
Weightlifting belts help you build stronger back and core muscles in the long run, apart from aiding you during the lift itself. These belts act as an opposing force, instigating the abs to push back against this resistance. In doing so, better strength is built.
Lower back injuries are extremely common in powerlifters and CrossFit practitioners. All it takes is one error in form during a heavy lift for one to end up with an injury.
Frequently lifting heavy weights can also place a lot of stress and pressure on the back, especially if your form is incorrect or lacking.
The thing is, everyone’s given to at least a rep or two in bad form every once in a while. This can be due to fatigue, weakness, a new weight, or simply being absent minded—it happens to the best of us, especially when maxing out during your WOTD.
CrossFit weightlifting belts can prevent injuries to your back and core fatigue by increasing intra-abdominal pressure, which is the pressure that allows your lower back and abdominal muscles to remain active and engaged while lifting and your spine straight and aligned.
Not only does this lead to safer reps, but it also leads to more reps in good form.
By providing additional support and allowing better core stability, weightlifting belts help you improve your form and technique, and progress. If you’ve had issues with holding your core during your squats and deadlifts, a weightlifting belt is great company to have.
Studies also show that using a weightlifting belt can help you increase the speed at which you perform an exercise, especially towards the end of the set, where unbelted folks usually fatigue and take longer to finish.
Studies also show that the power output of those wearing a belt increased while squatting compared to those who weren’t wearing a belt.
What to Look For in Crossfit Weightlifting Belts
Weightlifting belts can all look extremely similar, making it hard to pick one out. However, a few important characteristics can define how good or bad your belt is; once you’re aware of these, you can easily pick out the best belt for yourself.
Type of Belt
There are two primary types of belts in the market—foam/nylon belts and full-leather belts. The material should be one of the first things you look at when choosing a belt, as this defines how much support your belt can provide.
Leather belts are the more supportive of the two, but these belts can only have buckle closure systems (though these are longer-lasting), unlike the convenient Velcro closures that nylon belts have.
Leather belts offer better support to your torso, which is crucial when lifting extreme amounts of weight. These belts are also quite comfortable provided you pick out the right type of leather—ideally, the belt should be supple yet sufficiently supportive.
Many people opt for nylon and foam belts as they’re more comfortable, flexible, lighter, smaller, and wearable. The support received will depend on the thickness and width of the belt, making it great for both beginners and more advanced lifters.
The Thickness of the Belt
How thick the belt is will impact both the amount of support it offers as well as how comfortable it is. While thicker belts offer more comfort, the payoff is that they can be extremely uncomfortable and rigid.
The maximum thickness allowed in a weightlifting belt is around 13 millimeters; powerlifting belts are much thicker. Since CrossFit requires flexible belts, as discussed earlier, powerlifting belts would be ill-suited to the purpose.
The Width of the Belt
Standard weightlifting belts measure between four and six inches in width. More width doesn’t necessarily mean better support, but it can mean more discomfort.
Extremely wide belts get in the way of your hip and ribcage, especially during squats and squatting movements. A belt between four and five inches is ideal for CrossFit, as it’s firm enough to support you without being excessively wide and hits the right position each time, so you don’t have to worry about putting it on precisely.
Weightlifting belts can feature either a Velcro closure or a traditional clamp and buckle system. You can pick either one, as long as it’s the quicker, easier, and more precise option for you—especially in competitions, you’ll have the bare minimum amount of time to put on and take off your belt.
If you tend to put on and remove your belt frequently during your workout routines, a belt with high-quality Velcro closure is the ideal choice. Even otherwise, a Velcro closure is better suited to the fast transitions and mixed demands of CrossFit, as it’s easy and extremely quick to put on and take off or adjust (loosen or tighten).
Buckled belts will obviously take more time to put on and remove and you can only tighten them as much as the number of holes, and the spacing between them, allows. You may have to bore new holes to achieve the desired level of tightness.
Having said that, conventional buckles are more resilient, long lasting, and tight, making them great for heavy lifting.
A standard, decent nylon CrossFit weightlifting belt will cost you around $40 at most, though you can find both great bargains and substantially more expensive options as well. A $65 belt provides excellent comfort and support but burns a hole in your pocket, while a $20 or $30 belt costs far lesser but is also of far lesser quality.
Work out your budget and then find an option that balances your needs, quality, and budget.
The Quality of the Belt
The quality of the belt is something you should never compromise.
If you’re going to be using your belt often, you want it to last as long as possible and do its job well the whole time. Make sure that features such as the inner padding, buckle size, stitching, material, and other factors are all correctly in place.
The buckle should be strong, hold well, stay in place, and take multiple openings and closings, whereas the belt’s inner padding shouldn’t cause discomfort or issues like rashes when used directly on the skin. The stitching shouldn’t have any loose ends and should at least be double or triple stitching.
Powerlifting belts don’t allow padding of any kind; light padding is allowed for CrossFit.
The Size of the Belt
Ensure that you’re picking out the right-sized belt (based on waist measurements; starting from the belly button and all around the waist, for both men and women, and not the size of the belt you would use on your pants) and not one that’s too loose or too tight.
Several manufacturers have handy charts that you can refer to, but sometimes, they can be unreliable, especially for those on the lower or higher end of the sizing scale.
You can work around this by talking to other users with similar measurements, or going through reviews before you zero in on the belt of your choice.
Ultimately, whatever else your belt may or may not have, comfort is crucial. If you’re going to be adjusting your belt every two seconds during your workout, your reps are going to suffer. It doesn’t help either to have a belt that’s cutting into your ribs or pushing too much against your pelvis.
You need to be able to breathe and move efficiently and properly through your workout. As a CrossFitter, you’ll have to take into consideration more factors than powerlifters do when it comes to your belt, as you’ll be performing a range of different movements to time, unlike powerlifting—timing doesn’t matter in the latter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Unless your workouts involve very little or no core activation at all or you’re working purely on isometric machines, a belt is highly recommended for CrossFit. It’ll help you maintain the right form from start to end and keep you safe.
Your belt should sit over your belly button. Too high and it’ll hurt your ribs; too low and it won’t do you any good. You should feel the pressure and support on your core while lifting with the belt on.
CrossFitters generally use nylon belts as they are comfortable, have a better range of motion, are easier to put on and remove, are easy to adjust or reposition, and are more advantageous when performing Olympic lifts than leather belts.
The Final Word
Belts are ideally used only for the heaviest sets, and as we mentioned earlier, never to disguise or make up for the overall poor form. Before you start using a belt, it’s recommended that you strengthen your muscles sufficiently and be capable of lifting decently heavy weights without accessories.
Your belt should only come into play when you’re trying new PRs or doing an especially heavy lift, and not feature in every single set that you do. Using a belt when not necessary, or overusing it, will cause your back to feel numb.
If you continue to face pain while using a belt and can’t pin down the reason, visit your doctor immediately. If you have past injuries, it’s best to consult your doctor before using a belt or lifting heavy.