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There are two popular sizes for powerlifting belts: 3-inches or 4-inches. These numbers refer to the width of the belt measured at the back of the lifting belt.
So, is the 3 or 4-inch belt better for powerlifting? The 4-inch powerlifting belt is the go-to size as it provides greater support and can be worn for several exercises in the gym. The 3-inch powerlifting belt is only suitable for smaller men and women who have short torsos, or for bench press specialists who don’t require as much support while lifting.
The best 4-inch powerlifting belt on the market is the Inzer Forever Lever Belt (click for today’s price on Amazon). I’ve used this belt for the past 13 years and it’s extremely resistant to wear and tear. The belt is significantly easier to break-in compared with other belts, yet stays rigid enough to support your core and back. It also has a life-time warranty if you run into any issues!
Let’s breakdown the differences between the 3-inch and 4-inch powerlifting belt in greater detail!
4-Inch Powerlifting Belts
The 4-inch belt is the most popular size in the world of powerlifting belts. It’s the default width that belt manufacturers make as it’s considered the size that fits most people and lifting situations.
Benefits of 4-Inch Powerlifting Belt
The benefits of a 4-inch powerlifting belt are:
- They’re easy to find and come in multiple styles
- You gain superior core and back support
- You can wear it for any exercise in the gym, including squats, bench presses, deadlifts, rows, overhead presses
- It is the top pick for competitive powerlifters and is approved to wear in competition
- It has better secondhand resale value as more people are in the market for 4-inch belts
Who Should Wear A 4-Inch Powerlifting Belt?
Most people will be looking at purchasing a 4-inch powerlifting belt. Here are some different scenarios where it would make the most sense:
First-Time Belt Owners
If you’re purchasing a belt for the first time, the 4-inch belt is a great option as it will allow you to grow with the belt over time.
A belt should be a once-in-a-decade purchase, and if you have goals of improving your strength movements in the gym over the long-term, then there’s no question that a 4-inch belt will provide you with superior support.
Recreational and Competitive Powerlifters
Both recreational and competitive powerlifters will want a 4-inch belt since you’ll need the additional back support for heavy lifts, such as squats and deadlifts.
In a competitive powerlifting setting, 99% of athletes wear a 4-inch belt. This is because the 4-inch width is the maximum distance that is allowed in competition, so athletes want to use a belt that provides the most support but is still within the legal limits.
There is no question that a larger individual will need a 4-inch belt because of the size of their torso.
This is not to say smaller and medium statured individuals won’t benefit by using a 4-inch powerlifting belt. It’s simply a must-have if you are over 150lbs for a woman or 200lbs for a man.
Those Looking To Add Weight To Their Lifts
If you want a belt that will help you add weight to your lifts, then the 4-inch belt will provide extra coverage around your torso, allowing you to feel more stable under heavier loads.
Types of 4-Inch Powerlifting Belts
The following are my top 3 picks for the best powerlifting belt:
1. Inzer Forever Lever Belt – Best Overall
The Inzer Forever Lever Belt is by far the best lifting belt that you can buy. It’s not even the most expensive belt either, as noted in my review of the Inzer Belt vs SBD Belt.
It’s a belt that I’ve owned for 13 years and is made for serious wear and tear. If anything happens to it, there is a lifetime warranty (which I haven’t had to use). It’s the most comfortable belt I’ve worn and is the go-to belt for several top powerlifters.
2. Rogue Ohio Powerlifting Belt – Best For Women
The Rogue Ohio Powerlifting Belt is the best belt option I recommend for most women. While it’s still a 4-inch belt, it’s designed for lifters with a smaller build to provide a snug fit without digging into the hips or ribs.
3. Rogue Echo Lifting Belt – Best For The Money
If you’re on a budget, then the 4-inch Rogue Echo Lifting Belt is the best for the money. The leather is extremely durable for its price. In fact, the leather may be too stiff, as some people complain that it takes a bit too long to break in and for it to feel comfortable.
3-Inch Powerlifting Belts
The 3-inch belt is a rare product to find as not all manufacturers make this type of lifting belt. It’s designed for lifters with extremely short torsos or lifters who compete in bench press competitions (and aren’t using it for any other purpose).
Benefits of 3-Inch Powerlifting Belt
The benefits of a 3-inch powerlifting belt are:
- They won’t dig into your rib cage if you have a small torso
- It can provide better support for bench press specialists who only need low back support (not mid-back support).
- They don’t cost as much as 4-inch belts
Who Should Wear A 3-Inch Powerlifting Belt?
There are only two scenarios where I’d recommend wearing a 3-inch powerlifting belt:
1. Lifters With Small Torsos
If you have a small torso, you may still be able to wear a 4-inch powerlifting belt. However, some people with small torsos do prefer the 3-inch belt because it sits more comfortably on their hips.
The risk of wearing a 4-inch powerlifting belt on a small torso is that it digs into your ribcage as you lift. This can be quite painful.
If the distance between the bottom of your ribcage and top of the hip is less than 2.5 inches, then you’ll want to consider a 3-inch powerlifting belt.
The reason why you can still wear a 4-inch powerlifting belt if you have a space of 3-inches between your ribcage and torso is that the belt is supposed to sit partially on top of your hips.
2. Bench Press Specialists
If you’re a bench press specialist it means that you compete in bench press competitions.
This is going to be an extremely rare group of people, and I doubt if you’re reading this that you’re a bench press specialist.
But, just so you know, bench press specialists sometimes prefer a 3-inch belt because they’re only trying to provide support to their low back, not mid-back.
The goal of the mid-back is to flex and arch backward as much as possible, and a 4-inch belt may hinder a lifter’s ability to do that.
I wrote an entire article on Should You Wear a Lifting Belt When Bench Pressing? You can read more about the role of a belt while benching in that guide.
Types of 3-Inch Powerlifting Belts
There aren’t many options for 3-inch powerlifting belts. The only single option is the following:
1. Rogue 3-Inch Ohio Belt
The Rogue 3-Inch Ohio Belt is the go-to option for lifters with a smaller build, including a lot of women who have shorter torsos. I always love the quality products that Rogue creates, and this belt is no different. It’s made from high-quality leather, and if you compete in powerlifting, it’s approved for competition.
Other Belt Considerations: Sizing & Style
There may be a couple of other things you’ll want to consider when deciding on what belt to buy.
The thickness of a belt comes in 10mm or 13mm variations. Most people will want the 10mm option.
The closure mechanism comes in either lever or prong style. I recommend the lever style for most serious lifters.
Check out our other belt resources:
- 10mm vs 13mm belt: Pros, Cons, Differences.
- lever vs prong belt: Pros, Cons, Differences
- Deadlift Belt Position: Where Should It Be? And, How Tight?
- How To Put On A Weightlifting Belt? (Step-By-Step)
The decision to get a 3 or 4 inch powerlifting belt is an easy one. Unless you are someone with an extremely small torso or you are a bench press specialist, then you will want a 4-inch powerlifting belt. My top recommendation is the Inzer Forever Lever Belt (click for today’s price on Amazon)