Pioneer | How to choose the right weight belt for you

Article by Matt Hadden from Pioneer
(edited where applicable)

Ok everyone, I get numerous requests on how to choose the right weight belt so I will do my best to explain to you what I have learned and what has been passed down to me over the last 36 years in our family business. This post may touch on some of the aspects of previous posts but stay with me here and be sure to let me know if this helps… AND if you are still unclear about what weight belt to get, you will have to call me and I will help as much as I can to build your perfect weight belt!

How to choose the right style of a weight belt

There are 4 different styles of weight belts that we offer here at GLC.

  1. Powerlifting Belt – This belt is 4” (10cm) in width throughout and is, by far, the most popular belt that we produce. Most popularly used for powerlifting due to the maximum surface area to push against in the front. Options will vary and will be discussed at length later. *** For powerlifting belts we stock solely the Pioneer Cut - you can see them all here ***
  2. Training Belt – This belt is either 4” or 6” in the back and tapers to 2.5” in the front. This belt is most popular for Olympic style training, CrossFit, and Bodybuilding. This belt comes in various options which I will discuss in length at the end of this post. *** All of the training belts we stock can be seen here ***
  3. Lever Belt – This belt is 4” (10cm) in width throughout and is actually just a spin off on the Power Belt mentioned above. The lever gives the ability to cinch tighter than one would be able to with the standard prong belt and has a quick release feature to unbuckle at the end of the lift. *** All of the lever belts we stock can be seen here ***
  4. Bench/Oly Belt – This belt can be anywhere from 2” – 3” in width. This type belt is most commonly used for benching without hindering the arch and is frequently used for smaller athletes when a 4” belt hits the ribs and/or hips. Options later! *** All of the bench belts we stock can be seen here ***

How to choose the correct thickness for your weight belt

This portion of the post might be hard to understand in text but I will do what I can to make it as clear as possible.

  1. 6.5mm – 6.5mm belts are the thinnest belt we make. They are very pliable and comfortable, but they are also the least supportive option. For many general trainees, this thickness offers the best blend of support and comfort. All of our 6.5mm belts are made from a single, solid piece of sole leather.
  2. 10mm – 10mm belts are our best seller and tend to have the best reviews from customers. This is also the belt thickness I recommend to almost everyone due to its feel, functionality, and support. These belts, from all manufacturers (to my knowledge), take into consideration the thickness of the suede used to get to the 10mm of thickness. Two pieces of suede (combined) can be anywhere from 1.5mm thick to almost 4mm depending on the supplier. Our belts are made from a single piece of leather that is approximately 7mm thick and then covered in suede, which brings the total thickness to 10mm. Some manufacturers make their 10mm belts with two pieces of leather and two pieces of suede.
  3. 13mm – 13mm belts are meant for the maximum amount of support but generally are the least comfortable. This thickness is most commonly purchased by competitive powerlifters or anyone that is looking for a more rigid and sturdy belt. 13mm belts with no suede will offer the most support because the leather is the maximum legal thickness for most federations. Please note that a 13mm belt with suede on both sides is about 9-10mm of leather thickness and covered in suede to reach the 13mm goal.

Options for all weight belts

  1. Untreated – Untreated belts are just like they sound: untreated, raw leather. These belts are cut from the bend, split, skived, and assembled. They are the most cost effective belt we offer. These do not have suede or any other upgrades. *** All of the untreated belts can be seen here ***
  2. Treated – Treated belts are bare leather soaked in our proprietary blend of fish and mineral oils which help soften the leather and give it a darker finish. This is a very popular option and IMO makes the best product. *** All of the treated leather belts we stock can be seen here ***
  3. Stitched – This option is purely cosmetic on a 6.5mm belt and offers nothing more to the functionality or durability of the products. All suede or 13mm belts will have stitching included as this is one of two procedures that keep the belt together.
  4. Single Suede – First and foremost, suede belts can be customized with embroidery. This is something that we specialise in and have had great feedback because of. We use very expensive and heavy garment suede that is usually around 1.5mm-2mm thick (keep that in mind when choosing your belt). Suede offers no support so, to be honest, it offers nothing more than aesthetics to the product if it is on the outside only. *** Please note - that we do not stock single suede belts except for 8.5mm belts with single suede on the inside ***
  5. Double Sided Suede – This is the most popular style because it is the most stylish. Every manufacturer offers a double suede belt. Suede on both sides covers any flaws in the leather and just makes for a badass belt. This option can be fully customized with the option to have different colors on the inside and out, and it can be embroidered. Remember that if you choose a 13mm double suede belt, you are getting 9mm-10mm of leather (support) and the 3mm-4mm is the suede that was mentioned in the Thickness section.
  6. Embroidery – This is what we are quickly becoming known for. We can embroider your name, gym logo, or any other image you want on a belt which is appealing to all. We do not put our logo or company name on anything so you can truly make a belt that is YOURS! *** Custom options can be seen here. Please contact us if you would like discuss a custom belt with embroidery ***
  7. Stitch Colour – Your options here are extensive and each one can really make your custom belt stand out. Stitch colour will not affect the belts performance, but can drastically change the look so be careful on your choice here! *** All of our stock belts come with white stitching as standard (where applicable). The two-tone belts we stock come with different stitch colours. Custom made belts can have any stitch colour and options can be seen here. ***
  8. Edging – Edging is something that comes standard with most belt companies, but I wanted to make it an option for you since this is YOUR belt! This is our most popular option and can really finish off the belt. *** Please note all of our stock suede belts come with edging but there are many belts that do not, like the treated leather belts. Anything on our website can be made without edging to order ***
  9. Powder Coated Hardware – Everyone has Nickel plated buckles and levers so we decided to expand our offerings. Buckles are available in nickle plated and black finishes. Levers are available in a range of colours here.

Building your perfect weight belt

Use the information above to help you during the process. If you want an inexpensive and durable belt to last you a long time, go with a simple 6.5mm Pioneer Cut Belt or Lever Belt. Or choose from the many options available! Please contact us if you need any help or want a bespoke belt made to order.