Nike Lifting Belt Review: Pros, Cons, Is It Worth It?

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nike lifting belt review

When someone speaks about Nike’s lifting gear, the first thing that pops to mind is the iconic Romaleos lifting shoes. However, Nike also produces wrist wraps, knee sleeves, and most importantly, lifting belts.

In this article, I’ll review three of the best Nike lifting belts: Structured, Intensity, and Strength. Even though all these models are made of nylon, they offer different degrees of support. But since nylon can’t support heavy lifting, I’d only recommend these belts for general strength training, not for competitive powerlifters.

Before diving into the details, here’s a quick rundown of the most important pros and cons:

Pros

  • Padded with comfortable EVA
  • Features a breathable mesh exterior
  • Equipped with steel buckles
  • Tapered to fit your body’s outlines

Cons

  • Not approved for professional competitions
  • A bit expensive for its limited support
  • Available in two widths: 4” and 6”
  • Padded with comfortable materials
  • The tapered design suits most dynamic movements
  • Not approved for competitions
  • Questionable durability
  • Limited weight capacity
  • Beginner and intermediate lifters who are purchasing a belt for the first time
  • Those who don’t mind spending a bit more money for a belt that will last
  • General strength athletes, Crossfitters, and Olympic weightlifters
  • Competitive powerlifters or those looking to lift maximally
  • Those who prefer a “lever” style belt (if you don’t know what this is, then it’s not a concern for you)

Things to Consider Before Buying a Lifting Belt

things to consider before buying a lifting belt

To make sure you’re buying gear that can actually serve your needs, you should familiarize yourself with some basic concepts before starting to compare the products on the market.

Weightlifting vs. Powerlifting Belts

Although weightlifting and powerlifting are generally aimed toward developing strength, they involve strikingly different workouts, and that’s why they require contrasting belts.

I’ve written a separate article detailing all the differences between powerlifting and weightlifting belts, but I’ll sum up the most important takeaways here.

Weightlifting Belts Are More Flexible

The most fundamental difference between weightlifting and powerlifting is workout mechanics.

If you consider the Olympic snatch or the catch and clean, you can understand that weightlifting doesn’t focus much on the weight, but rather on your lifting speed and technique.

For that reason, weightlifting belts often feature flexible nylon construction, which can provide enough spinal support without limiting your dynamic movement.

Powerlifting is the exact opposite. Whether you’re performing squats, deadlifts, or bench presses, your ultimate goal is to lift bulkier weights.

So, powerlifting belts are usually made from rigid leather. When you breathe into such a dense build, your abdominal pressure increases, which keeps your spine aligned in the ideal form.

Weightlifting Belts Are Tapered

If you look at any weightlifting belt, you’ll see that it starts as thin as 3 or 4 inches at both ends, but it gradually widens toward the middle to an average of 5 or 6 inches.

Also, that taper typically follows the outline of your hip joints and rib cage. This way, you can push your body to the deepest positions in snatches and cleans, which improves your technique in the long run.

On the contrary, powerlifting belts sport a consistent width throughout the whole length. Even though such a design might dig a bit too much in your hips, it guarantees ideal breathing and bracing techniques, allowing you to max out more easily.

Weightlifting Belts Tighten With Velcro

Because the powerlifting belts are designed to withstand more weight, they always feature a steel buckle. The actual tightening mechanism can depend on a prong or a lever, which only vary in convenience and ease of use.

Weightlifting belts, especially those made of nylon, won’t benefit from the same steel buckles because their core design can’t handle hefty weights, anyway. Alternatively, they depend on velcro.

The most basic models have the hook pad attached to the left side and the loop pad stitched onto the right side. To tighten these belts, you just have to hook the two pads on the tightest setting possible. As convenient as this might sound, I highly recommend against it.

The belt you should buy must have the two velcro pads attached to the same side, and it must also feature a steel buckle. To tighten these belts, you should first thread the hook pad through the buckle and then return it back on itself to attach it over the loop pad. That additional reinforcement decreases the likelihood of accidental detachments, keeping injuries at bay.

Nike Lifting Belts: Detailed Reviews

As I mentioned earlier, Nike produces three lifting belts: Structured, Intensity, and Strength. In this section, I’ll dive deeper into each model to help you make an educated purchase.

1.   Nike Structured Training Belt 

The first model on my list provides moderate support, which should be ideal for general strength training.

Design and Build Quality

Nike designs the structured belt with an outline that follows the natural curves of your body.

The top edge is shaped like the letter “M”, which cradles your ribs from both sides without exerting uncomfortable pressure. Likewise, the bottom edge is curved to rest passively on your hip bone without digging in your backside.

The name “Structured” is based on the arrangement of the supportive plastic material. Instead of laying that material uniformly over the whole belt, Nike divides it up into rectangular panels.

In between each panel, you’ll find a thin metal frame that prevents the belt from collapsing on itself. Toward the front side of the belt, these panels fade into a solid finish that’s adorned by a green Swoosh.

Performance

The paneled design gives a unique directionality to the belt. If you try to bend it from top to bottom, it’ll resist your force. However, if you try to bend it from left to right, the gaps between each panel will allow for a hassle-free movement.

How does this help your workout? Well, top-to-bottom restriction is what supports your back and prevents injuries. In contrast, the relatively free side-to-side movement will make it a lot easier to fit the belt around your body without allowing it to dig into your skin.

Comfort

Internally, this belt is padded with a thick layer of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), the same material featured in running shoes. This padding makes for an incredibly comfortable fit that doesn’t cut off your circulation.

Also, the mesh exterior of this belt promotes excellent airflow to the interior. This way, you can wear the belt throughout your workout without having to put up with a clammy t-shirt.

Tightening

The structured belt features a sturdy hook-and-loop closure. To tighten it, you should thread the extra-long strap into the steel buckle and then return it over itself. The size of the velcro pad is ample enough to guarantee precise adjustability.

Sizing

Nike provides this belt in four sizes as follows:

  • Small: 24 to 30 inches
  • Medium: 30 to 36 inches
  • Large: 36 to 42 inches
  • X-Large: 42 to 48 inches

2.   Nike Intensity Training Belt

The Intensity lifting belt is part of a large line that includes knee sleeves, jumping rope, and wrist wraps. Its construction provides slightly less support than the Structured belt, and is meant to be used during more dynamic movements. 

Design and Build Quality

Nike chose to design the Intensity belt with a more streamlined, non-anatomical outline. On the back, it measures around 5 inches, and it tapers to 4 inches toward the front.

Unlike the structured belt, this model features a uniform, panel-less design. The swoosh is still there in the same place on the side.

Nike offers this belt in three color schemes: pink, black, and crimson. That variety makes this belt slightly better than the Structured version, mainly for fashion-forward athletes.

Performance

Initially, I thought that the absence of the anatomical outline will make this belt uncomfortable. But luckily, this isn’t the case.

See, the anatomical shape was essential in the Structured belt to balance its stiff plastic construction. But here, the Intensity belt is made of flexible foam, which already provides tons of free movement.

By the nature of the beast, such forgiving design translates into less support, which might limit the number of plates you can lift.

Comfort

Since the Intensity belt features the same EVA padding that we saw in the Structured model, it feels exceptionally comfortable. Nike also added the same mesh exterior to improve breathability and moisture-wicking.

Tightening

The strap featured in this belt is way longer than the one offered in the Structured model. This way, you can quickly adjust the tightness between your workouts to serve different mechanics.

Sizing

Nike offers this belt in only three sizes:

  • Small: 27 to 31 inches
  • Medium: 31 to 35 inches
  • Large: 35 to 39 inches

As you can see, people with waists girthier than 40 inches will have to opt for a Structured belt.


3.   Nike Strength Training Belt

Nike Belt

The last belt on Nike’s arsenal lies on the middle ground between the previous models, making it ideal for people searching for a balance between rigidity and flexibility.

Design and Build Quality

Until today, Nike has released three versions of this belt.

Nike discontinued the first edition several years ago, so it’s pretty hard to find it today.

The second version has the same anatomical outline featured in the Structured belt, which includes the M-shaped top edge and curved bottom edge. On the back, Nike places its Swoosh on a unique shield-shaped insert, giving an impression of strength and fierceness.

In the third version, Nike followed the modernization trend by adding a large Swoosh directly over the belt without any intermediate layers.

Even though choosing between these designs comes down to your personal preferences, I think the second version will make you stand out more.

Performance

The Strength belt features the same foam construction of the Intensity model, which is why it grants an efficient balance between comfort and support. But again, the absence of the plastic panels limits the weight that this belt can handle before the velcro snaps off.

In terms of comfort, this belt lives up to the high standards set by its predecessors. The dense EVA padding and the mesh exterior work together to allow for the longest workouts possible. 

Sizing

The strength belt comes in three sizes:

  • Small: 24 to 30 inches
  • Medium: 30 to 36 inches
  • Large: 36 to 42 inches
  • X-Large: 42 to 48 inches

All in All, Who Should Use Nike Lifting Belts?

who should use nike lifting belts

Personally, I loved the three models I reviewed today. I particularly like the higher support of the structured model, but I also appreciate the comfort and breathability offered by the other two.

But do I recommend them to everyone? Well, not exactly. Here’s when you should use this belt and when you’d need an alternative.

Use Them for General Strength Training

Regardless of your workout plan, it’s extremely important to engage your core and control your breathing. According to research, this is one of the best ways to protect yourself from injuries.

Unfortunately, it’s super easy to lose your train of thought and let your core go loose while lifting. If this happens to you, the moderate tightness of Nike’s belts will always remind you to stay tight.

Don’t Use Them to Overcome Back Injuries

Let me ask you this: Can you repair a punctured tire with a bandage? Well, that’s exactly like trying to mend an injured back with a lifting belt!

If you’re experiencing pain while lifting, stop! This is your body’s way of saying that something is wrong. You should consult a personal trainer to see if you’re training in the wrong way. If not, you should see a physiotherapist to properly diagnose your problem.

Don’t Use Them for Heavy Lifting

Regardless of the build quality, nylon will always be too weak to handle heavy weights. If you exceed that limit, the velcro might snap off while lifting, which can expose you to serious injuries.

Alternatives You Can Buy Instead of Nike Belts

alternatives you can buy instead of nike belts

As I said earlier, the Nike belts aren’t meant for heavy-duty use. I’ve written a separate post in which I reviewed the 10 best powerlifting belts, but here are my top recommended alternatives:

1.   Inzer Forever Lever Belt: Best for Powerlifting

If you’re determined to pursue professional powerlifting, it’s pretty hard to find anything better than the Inzer Forever belt.

Thanks to its rigid, genuine leather construction, this belt provides the ultimate amount of support. I’ve been using it for over 13 years now. Except for some minor scuffs on the outer suede, it’s still as good as new! The lever works brilliantly, the holes are still intact, and the support couldn’t be better!

To fit most of its customers’ needs, Inzer produces an alternative version with a prong buckle. You can also find both tightening mechanisms installed to 10mm and 13mm belts.

How It Compares to Nike Belts

  • More versatile
  • Provides better support
  • Approved for powerlifting competitions
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty

2.   Schiek Sports Model 2004 Belt: Best for Weightlifting

Just like Nike’s belts, the Schiek 2004 Model is intended for weightlifters. However, it’s made of thicker nylon that can support heavier weights. Better yet, it tightens with two velcro pads, not just one, which should prevent a wider range of injuries.

Toward the back, this belt measures around 4.75”, which provides comfortable support without digging into your skin. As it progresses forward, it gradually tapers to follow your body’s contours. But unlike any other belt, it widens again over the stomach to provide solid bracing for your abs. This way, you can breathe into the belt as if it were intended for powerlifting!

How It Compares to Nike Belts

  • Features two velcro pads
  • Provides better support
  • Suits professional weightlifters
  • Braces your abs as well as your back

3.    Rogue Echo Lifting Belt: Budget Pick

I know that “Rogue” isn’t usually synonymous with “budget”, but this is one of those rare cases.

This belt is intended for professional powerlifters. It’s made from 10mm-thick leather, and it tightens with a steel prong buckle. As you might’ve expected, this leather feels incredibly supportive, allowing you to lift more than your usual limit.

Exteriorly, Rogue embroiders its logo on a suede layer, making the belt look more premium than more expensive options, including the Inzer Forever.

How It Compares to Nike Belts

  • Built from durable leather
  • More affordable than most powerlifting belts
  • Approved for professional competitions
  • Sports a fashionable finish

Additional Belt Reviews

The Final Word

For light strength training, the three Nike lifting belts will provide sufficient support. The Structured belt is reinforced with plastic panels, which make it the sturdiest option.

The Strength model lacks these panels, but it features the same comfortable, anatomical design. The Intensity belt lacks both the panels and the prominent tapering, which should be ideal for short athletes who have a small trunk.