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If you’re searching for the differences between a 10mm vs 13mm lifting belt, you are probably a powerlifter either looking to purchase your first belt or already own a belt and are wondering if the 13mm belt is worth the upgrade.
So what is the difference between a 10mm and 13mm belt? The 10mm belt is the most popular lifting belt on the market. It fits most body sizes and ability levels, and it is easier to ‘break-in’ and wear on an everyday basis. The 13mm belt provides superior support under heavy loads, especially while squatting. However, it’s more uncomfortable and the benefits are debatable.
In this article, I’ll break down the pros and cons of the 10mm vs 13mm belt so that you can make an informed purchase based on your specific lifting situation.
In a Hurry? Here's My Recommendation
The 10mm lifting belt is going to be a better purchase for most powerlifters.
The best 10mm lifting belt is the Inzer Forever Lever Belt (click for today’s price on Amazon).
I’ve used this belt for 15 years, competing at the World Championships in powerlifting. Even as I’ve gotten stronger, I haven’t needed to upgrade it to a thicker belt. It's easy to break in, fits extremely comfortably, and will last you a lifetime.
Differences Between a 10mm vs 13mm Lifting Belt
Both the 10mm and 13mm belt will provide excellent stability while lifting. Some of the heaviest lifts in the world have been done using both a 10mm and 13mm lifting belt.
So, don’t think that only beginner and intermediate powerlifters use the 10mm belt and advanced powerlifters use the 13mm belt.
This is simply not the case.
To get the most out of any belt, you need to know how to ‘breathe and brace’ properly, which I wrote an entire article about. If you fail to implement the proper breathing technique while using your lifting belt, then the differences between the 10mm vs 13mm belt won’t matter.
Obviously, however, the main difference between a 10mm and 13mm lifting belt is the thickness.
It might seem like a small difference, but as a percentage, the 13mm is 30% thicker than the 10mm. This extra thickness creates certain outcomes that you wouldn’t get with the 10mm belt.
Outcome #1: The 13mm Belt Is More Rigid
The 13mm belt is more rigid and a lot of lifters notice a tangible difference while lifting.
What this means is that the 13mm belt will ‘dig in’ to your torso more aggressively. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because the extra rigidity will allow you to stabilize your torso more, which hypothetically should allow you to lift more weight.
However, it might be slightly uncomfortable if you’re always lifting with a sensation that something is ‘digging in’ to your torso. You’ll notice this effect more with exercises that have a bent-over position, such as deadlifts or rows. Not so much with exercises like squats.
It will also be more noticeable for lifters who don’t have as much ‘torso girth’, either if you’re a light or middle-weight powerlifter or woman.
Pro tip: Wearing the 13mm belt a little higher on your waist might mitigate the uncomfortable feeling of it ‘digging in’.
Outcome #2: The 13mm Belt Will Take Longer To Break-In
When you get a brand new belt, whether it’s a 10mm or 13mm belt, you’ll need to spend some time ‘breaking it in’.
This is because brand new leather is stiff, and so the belt will have a hard time wrapping around your body.
You’ll get the most benefit out of your belt when you’ve got to the point where it wraps around your body like a glove. You want the belt to conform to your torso 360-degrees around.
There’s no special process to breaking in a lifting belt. You simply need to wear it workout-after-workout, and eventually, it will just start to mold and conform to your body.
With a 10mm belt, the time to break it in can be fairly quick. You’ll notice after a month that it’s fitting around your waist nicely.
Now, I’ve never broken in a 13mm belt, but I've talked to powerlifters who have and they say that it can take close to a year for the belt to feel like it's breaking in.
So with a 10mm belt, you’ll start to feel the benefits of wearing a belt quicker. However, with a 13mm belt, it likely won’t fit ‘perfectly’ for several months, which might make lifting feel more awkward than not.
This is not necessarily a bad thing though. Because sometimes good things just take a little bit of time and investment to pay off.
However, for most beginner powerlifters I want them learning how to use a belt properly as soon as possible, and so a 10mm belt might be the best choice rather than having to wait to break in a belt over a longer period of time.
Again, I recommend the 10mm Inzer Forever Lever Belt (click to check reviews on Amazon)
Outcome #3: The 13mm Belt May Lack Versatility
When I say ‘versatility’, I’m referring to the types of exercises you can do in the gym when wearing the belt.
Let me be clear: both the 10mm and 13mm belts are made for powerlifters. However, there’s definitely going to be some differences in the types of exercises you can or cannot do in these belts.
The 13mm belt is only made for the powerlifting movements — and that’s it. So, you’d likely only wear it for squatting, benching, and deadlift.
In fact, some people who wear the 13mm belt go one step further and say that it’s only really made for squatting, and they don’t wear it for benching and deadlifting.
Does this mean you would get one belt for squatting and another belt for benching and deadlifting? This seems like a waste of money for me. But, some people actually do have two belts for this reason.
The 10mm belt can most certainly be worn for all of the powerlifting movements, and it can also be worn for some non-powerlifting movements, including various rowing and pressing exercises.
So, you need to ask yourself why you’re purchasing a belt and what you want to use it for.
If you’re a powerlifter, then both belts are great options.
But, are you someone who wants to use the belt for various movements in the gym and not just the powerlifting movements? If yes, then the 10mm belt will likely be a better choice.
Related Article: Powerlifting vs Weightlifting Belt
Outcome #4: The 13mm Might Give You a Strength Advantage At The Elite Level
I mentioned that at the elite-level of powerlifting you can see top lifts being performed with both the 10mm and 13mm belt.
This is true, and I think that you can progress very far with a 10mm belt and never have to think about switching to the 13mm belt.
However, when you’re at the elite level of powerlifting, and you’re trying to push yourself beyond your biological limits, fractions of a percent improvement can make a meaningful difference.
In theory, a thicker belt should give you more support.
The extra support might not make a difference for a beginner or intermediate powerlifter because there are other aspects of their training and technique that would make a more meaningful impact on their performance.
However, for an elite powerlifter who has already mastered the basics and has impeccable technique, the increase in belt thickness might be the next optimization in their training that makes a difference in how they perform.
Related Article: Top 5 Lifting Belts For Big Guys.
Inzer vs Rogue: The 2 Most Popular Brands For 10mm or 13mm Lifting Belts
The two belt manufacturers that I would recommend for powerlifting are Inzer and Rogue.
Both Inzer and Rogue have 10mm and 13mm belt options and are the go-to choice for many powerlifters.
I’ve been mentioning Inzer quite a few times in this article as my #1 choice, but this is not to say that Rogue isn’t a great alternative.
The only reason why I’m picking Inzer over Rogue is because of price.
Inzer is simply a less expensive belt, and you’ll likely save $20-30 bucks by going with Inzer over Rogue.
The one leg-up Rogue has over Inzer is that the belts are American Made. So, if that sort of thing matters to you then I’d definitely pick Rogue in order to support a local business.
10mm vs 13mm Belt: Pros & Cons
Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of the 10mm vs 13mm powerlifting belt.
- The belt will break-in faster
- Sits more comfortable on the waist (for most people)
- Good beginner belt
- Approved for competition
- Costs less
- Can wear belt with multiple exercises
- Won’t get as much support if you wear the belt higher on the waist
- Might be limiting strength capabilities at the elite level, especially for squats
- Has the potential to yield higher strength gains at the elite level
- Feels more secure under heavier loads
- Approved for competition
- Will get more support if you wear the belt higher on the waist
- Great belt for squatting
- Might be better suited for heavy weight powerlifters
- The belt will dig into the waist more aggressively (mitigated by wearing the belt higher)
- The belt will break-in slower
- Might not be suitable for smaller lifters or women
- Costs more
- Won’t feel comfortable wearing lower on the waist
- Might not be able to wear it for exercises outside of the powerlifting movement
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Get a 10mm or 13mm Belt?
The 10mm belt is great if you are purchasing your first belt. Only consider a 13mm belt if you have used a 10mm belt for several years and are at the elite-level of powerlifting. Even after purchasing a 13mm belt, there is no guarantee that you’ll lift more weight because a belt is only as good as a lifter’s natural stability and technique.
Take a look at my head-to-head comparison between the Inzer Belt vs SBD Belt.
How Thick Should My Powerlifting Belt Be?
If you are a competitive powerlifter you can have either a 10mm or 13mm belt. Both of these widths are approved for competition. Most powerlifters will use a 10mm belt because it feels the most comfortable and doesn’t take as long to ‘break-in’ once purchased. Only consider a 13mm belt if you are a heavier individual or lift at the elite-level of powerlifting.
Should I Get a 4 or 6-inch Weight Belt?
If you are a powerlifter, you can only wear a 4-inch belt or less in competition. Most leather belts only come in 4-inches, and so you'll get more support wearing a 4-inch belt because the material is thicker. If you purchase a 6-inch belt, it’s most likely nylon and won’t be as supportive. With that said, most recreational strength athletes don’t need as much support as a competitive powerlifter, so a 6-inch belt might be more appropriate depending on your goals.
Do I Need a Different Belt Thicknesses For Different Lifts?
Some highly specialized and elite lifters like to have a belt specific for each lift. However, this is highly unnecessary and your average lifter should be able to use a single belt for all of the lifts they want to do in the gym. I would not waste your money on purchasing more than one belt.
Final Verdict: Should You Get a 10mm or 13mm Lifting Belt?
For most people, the decision to get a 10mm or 13mm belt will come down to personal preference.
I would suggest that powerlifters start with a 10mm belt and worry about other aspects of their training that will get them stronger in the long run, like effective programming and technique.
If you’re considering a 13mm belt, I would only recommend it if you have adequate strength training experience and already have used a 10mm belt for several years. I might also recommend a 13mm belt earlier in someone’s lifting career if they are heavier in body-weight (over 230lbs).
Just know that a 10mm belt can take you very far in the sport of powerlifting, and you likely don’t need to switch even at the elite level. My top pick for a 10mm powerlifting belt is the Inzer Forever Lever Belt (click for today's price on Amazon).
Check out our other belt resources: