How To Put On A Weightlifting Belt? (Step-By-Step)

step-by-step how to put on a weightlifting belt

Not all weightlifting belts are created the same way and so you may be wondering what is the right way to put it on to maximize both fit and performance.

So, how do you put on a weightlifting belt? While each belt will be slightly different, in general you will want to choose a mid-way spot on your torso based on your size and the exercise you’re doing, then breathe in, lock it into a comfortable but snug spot using the prongs, lever or velcro and then breathe out once in place.

It may take some trial and error to get a feel for where you like your belt to be placed on your torso or how tight you want it to be. These considerations will also change based on what type of belt you own and if you are doing a deadlift vs. a squat vs. a clean and jerk.

In this article, I’ll go over where you can place the belt, steps to putting it on and differentiate between the prong belt, lever belt and velcro/nylon belts.

Not sure where to start when buying a belt? Check out: Best Powerlifting Belt: In-Depth Guide & Review.

Where Should A Lifting Belt Be Placed?

The lifting belt will be around your waist, just above your hip bone; however this can vary by small degrees based on your belly size, where your hip bones lie, or personal preference. 

If you place your hands on your waist and slowly move down you will eventually hit a bone, which is the iliac crest part of your pelvis or otherwise known as the hip bone. The point at which your hip bone lies on your torso will depend based on sex, size and genetics. 

Once you have identified it, place your lifting belt around your waist just above the hip bone. The belt should not be pushed into this bony area while you stand or while you do any of your lifts because it will hurt and can cause pressure injuries.

Some individuals with larger bellies or just out of personal preference will want to place their belt higher up on their torso, a little closer to their ribs. This is acceptable too as long as you are not compressing your ribs in a way that makes breathing difficult. This is also a more common practice with deadlifts since you need to bend over and a lower set belt can get in the way of your hinge.

If you are finding it difficult to find a spot that isn’t hitting your hip bone you may have a short torso with a higher set pelvis which just means you may benefit from a thinner 3 inch lifting belt rather than the standard 4 inch.

For more insight on lifting belt sizes, check out: 3 or 4 Inch Powerlifting Belt: Which One Is Best?

5 Steps To Follow When Putting On A Lifting Belt

5 steps to follow when putting on a lifting belt

Putting on a lifting belt may seem straightforward but there is a sequence to be followed to ensure you’re getting the most out of it. 

Step #1: Identify the Position of Your Hip Bone

You will eventually learn where this position is intuitively and not have to feel for your hip every time, but when you are first using a belt you will want to be more intentional with it. 

The belt should be placed on mostly “squishy” parts of your torso, closer to your mid and upper abdominal muscles and not hitting any bone at the top or bottom.

This position can be higher or lower depending on what lift you are doing or your comfort level.

Step #2: Take a Deep Breath In

It’s super important to take in a deep breath before locking the belt in place because you want it to be sized in a way where it gives you some resistance and compression. You don’t need to suck in and vacuum your entire stomach, but just take a really big belly breath in.

Step #3: Latch the Prong, Lever or Velcro

Before exhaling, fasten your belt depending on what type you have where it feels comfortable and there should be a couple inches of room between your belly and your belt at this point

Step #4: Breath Out and Brace Into the Belt

Once you breathe out, you will want to breathe and brace into the belt in a 360 degree fashion using the valsalva maneuver to check for tightness. When you do the breath out you should no longer have a gap between you and the belt.

Step #5: Adjust Position if Needed

If the belt feels so tight that you are getting acid reflux or feel lightheaded, it is way too tight. It should provide a wall of resistance for you to brace into but should not feel like you are being asphyxiated.

How To Put On A Lever Belt?

How to put on a lever belt?

A lever belt is a belt that is fastened using a lever that latches onto a preset hole and then is clipped back and into place.

Pros for having a lever belt is that getting it on is by far the easiest method. You are one simple clip away from going in to lift the weight and once the set is done all you have to do is unclip by just flipping it open.

The major downside to this method is that your belt is set to a certain size all the time. It can obviously be adjusted but it often requires the use of a screwdriver, time and patience. 

I am someone who owns a lever belt and if I go from lifting in the mornings to lifting in the evenings I’ll notice it feels much tighter just because I’m more bloated. This can be especially annoying for lifters who prefer different tightness levels for bench vs. squat vs. deadlifts.

Not sure if a lever belt is right for you? Read more at: Lever vs Prong Belt: Which Is Best? (5 Considerations)

How To Put On A Prong Belt?

How to put on a prong belt?

A prong belt is put on like you would put on a traditional clothing belt; however it is much harder to tighten and you may need external support to help get it to the holes you need.

A prong belt is a commonly used belt in powerlifting next to the lever belt with the only difference being that it is far more adjustable. Every time you put on the belt you choose which holes you want the prongs to go into based on your preference for that set or exercise. 

The biggest drawback with prong belts is that because they are super thick it can be a real challenge to actually get the prongs into the hole you need them to go into. It’s not uncommon to use a rack to stabilize the long end of the belt as you tighten it across your body. The belt becomes more difficult to fasten if it is a double prong vs. single prong, 13mm instead of 10mm or if it is brand new and isn’t broken into yet.

As a result even getting it off is not nearly as efficient as it is with a lever belt; however, the fact that it’s so adjustable is usually its major selling feature.

Want to learn more about belt thickness? Check out: 10mm vs 13mm Belt: Choosing The Best Belt For You

How To Put On A Velcro/Nylon Belt?

How to put on a velcro/nylon belt?

A velcro/nylon belt is one of the easiest belts to put on and just requires you to just tighten as much as you need and then paste the long end across the velcro on your torso.

A velcro belt is not nearly as rigid and stiff as the prong and lever belts and is more commonly used by weightlifters and those who aren’t looking to compete in powerlifting. Therefore, its main drawback is that it won’t provide as much support for your brace, but that also makes it a much easier belt to put on.

With this belt you just need to pull on the strap until it feels tight enough and stick it directly across the soft velcro on the part of the belt that surrounds your torso.

If you’re not sure whether a lifting belt is right for you check out the following articles for more information:

Final Thoughts

Lifting belts can seem like an intimidating piece of equipment that may seem confusing to those who have never used one before. 

However, once you learn how to set it in a good spot and create just the right amount of tightness, it can bring your performance to the next level. 

Make sure to choose the right belt based on your needs and practice putting it on depending on what kind you have, it may take some trial and error but will eventually become second nature.

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About The Author

Elena Popadic

Elena Popadic has worked within the fitness industry for over 6 years, is co-host of the Squats and Thoughts podcast and trains and competes as a powerlifter. She has a BSc in Life Sciences from McMaster University, a Postgrad Certificate in Public Relations from Humber College and is currently pursuing a MSc Occupational Therapy at Western University. Connect with her on Instagram or LinkedIn.