Weightlifting belts are not fashion accessories that gymgoers use to proudly display their V-taper and get a beastly look. Rather, they are an absolute must-have for people who lift medium to heavy weights. Plus, if you have back issues, you might use a weightlifting belt even if you are not training with a significant amount of weight (please consult with your doctor first though).
Both Olympic and powerlifting exercises put a tremendous amount of stress on the lower back and even on your abdominal muscles. This stress can damage the muscles and even cause permanent issues such as chronic back pain.
You obviously don’t want that, which is why a good weightlifting belt should be your second best investment; first one obviously needs to be a good quality weightlifting shoe such as Nike Romaleos 3 XD Weightlifting Shoe.
Want more options? Check out our list of 8 Best Weightlifting Shoes for a fair comparison.
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Weightlifting belts help you lift more
Image source: AQF Sports
It helps increase the pressure of your core, also known as intra-abdominal pressure. The more this pressure is, the easier it will be for you to lift heavy.
Further, the intra-abdominal pressure helps maintain a good form and posture, which further helps reduce the strain on the lower back and prevents it from collapsing during heavy lifts.
But beginners must not use them
As we mentioned above, weightlifting belts are not necessary unless you are lifting heavy.
Before you use a belt, you should know how to squat and deadlift without a belt. You should know the proper form and technique. You should let your muscles do some work and get stronger day by day. You shouldn’t get them addicted to some external help right from the beginning.
Weightlifting belts should be introduced when a lifter has already mastered the art of lifting medium to heavy weight. Plus, it should be used only when a lifter is lifting heavy and doing more than one rep.
Choose a weightlifting belt that suits your needs
Sounds obvious but the overwhelming number of options can leave you confused. For example; should you go with a leather belt or a velcro belt? How thick should the belt be? Should you choose the pronged variety or the lever variety?
It all depends on what you expect from your belt. Leather belts are stronger than velcro ones. Plus, they provide a number of other benefits that we have explained below. Pronged belts are better than lever ones because they last longer, especially for people who lift really heavy.
But, overall any belt that has a decent build quality is good to go with.
Gymreapers 7MM Weight Lifting Belt is made of genuine leather
That’s what the manufacturer claims and we agree. The Gymreapers belt seems to be made of full-grain leather, the same kind that is usually used for manufacturing high-quality footwear, luggages, furniture, etc. So, obviously, you can expect it to bear years of brutal workouts.
It is stiff but will soften with use
You may use a leather softener if you find it extremely stiff.
But please note that the stiffness indicates that it is made of genuine leather. Leather weightlifting belts are uncomfortable to wear. It will take you a week or two to get used to its rigidity.
Velcro weightlifting belts on the other hand are more flexible and comfortable. They are easier to wear, adjus, and take off. They are inexpensive too as compared to their leather counterparts. But, their durability is an issue.
Velcro weightlifting belts pop off under pressure, which is why they are not recommended for heavy lifters. Leather ones like the Gymreapers belt are better because they can bear much more pressure than velcro belts.
Gymreapers belt is designed to last for years
It has strong seams
It has reinforced stitching, which is one of the strongest types of stitching. As you can see in the image, the stitches are closely spaced and they go over and over an area for a couple of times to make the seam as strong as possible.
The buckle is a beast
The next impressive feature of the Gymreapers belt is its thick, double-pronged buckle. The buckle is made of stainless steel, which is quite stronger and more durable than the other metals used in belts and other gym accessories. Being a double prong weightlifting belt, it requires you to spend a few extra seconds securing it around your waist but an extra prong obviously makes it stronger and more effective.
It is thick and padded
As obvious from the title of this article, the Gymreapers belt is 7mm thick, which is neither too much nor too less. Weightlifting belts are available in 3mm to 10mm thickness. But, please note that thicker isn't always better.
3mm ones such as the ProFitness Weight Lifting Belt are good for people who have just started to lift heavy and aren’t used to using a leather belt. 7mm thickness is ideal for everyone although you may go with 10mm one if you like. Iron Bull Strength Powerlifting Belt/Weight Lifting Belt is a top-rated product in the 10mm thickness category.
The insides of Gymreapers belt has suede lining, which is a common feature of most good quality weightlifting belts. The main function of this extra lining is to keep you comfortable and absorb the sweat.
Gymreapers belts come with a free 1-year replacement guarantee
The manufacturer claims that if you are unhappy with the product or if it gets damaged within the warranty period, it will send you a free replacement.
Now, that’s admirable!
One year might sound like a short warranty period but this belt will be bearing the brunt of your brutal workouts. Can you imagine how much pressure you will be putting on it? And now, imagine how many times you will be using it in a year.
So, the one year warranty period is pretty decent.
Order a larger size
The sizing chart of Gymreapers belt available on Amazon (see above) isn’t very accurate. Not just us, many buyers have reported that the belt runs smaller than what is mentioned in the chart. So, we suggest that you order one size larger to avoid the inconvenience of getting it exchanged.
Numerous buyers have complained about the sizing issues. In fact, most of the negative reviews on Amazon are only because of the sizing issues. The manufacturer should fix this as soon as possible.
It has a tapered front but we would rather prefer something that has the same width all way around
Please note that this isn’t a complaint; this is our personal preference.
We generally practice powerlifting moves such as squats and deadlifts. In these moves, we need equal support all around the torso. But, Gymreapers belt has a tapered front. The back is 4 inches wide, which is the industry standard but the width of the abdominal part is narrower. The manufacturer claims that the belt is intentionally designed this way so it doesn’t ‘dig into your sides’.
But, as we said above, if we have to get it redesigned, we would ask the manufacturer to maintain its width throughout its length, just like most powerlifting belts have. We don’t know how it will feel though.
The tapered front is not a deal breaker though; it's just our personal preference.
We are giving this a rating of 4.5 out of 5.0.
We highly recommend Gymreapers belt for serious powerlifting sessions. Be sure to buy a larger size though.
If you have just started lifting a bit heavy, a leather belt could be too stiff and difficult for you. Try the Element 26 Self-locking Weight Lifting Belt instead. It is a nylon/velcro belt, so comfort isn’t going to be an issue.
Looking for some more options so you can compare a few products and buy the best suited one. Check out our article on 8 Best Weightlifting Belts.
We have also reviewed some of the Best Readymade Deadlift Platforms. If you are planning to lift really heavy, you should get one of these because your thick rubber flooring won’t be enough to handle the pressure.
Readymade deadlift platforms are really expensive but they are worth their price. However, if you are on a budget, you can build one with the help of numerous YouTube tutorials using horse stall mats from Tractor Supply Co.
Don’t worry; they are not toxic. We have used them in our home gym and we have used an air quality meter to check if they really affect the indoor air in any way. Read this article on ‘Are Horse Stall Mats Toxic?’ for more details. Also, here is how you can get the smell out of horse stall mats.
That's it for this article. Please keep reading our blog for more genuine product reviews and recommendations.