Fitness Talk with Joe!
A common question I get asked is what kind of lifting belt is better, leather or nylon. Plain and simple it comes down to your training disciplines and goals. There are similarities between the belts such as torso support and building pressure within your core to help lift heavier weights, though, it is important to know which belt is more specific to your training. First let's start with leather belts ...
(Powerlifting leather belt) (Weightlifting leather belt)
The images above represent two types of leather belts, each specialized for a different style of training. The powerlifting belt on the left has layers of thick tough leather, strong stitching and a steel double prong buckle to optimize stability. Notice this belt's thickness and diameter is uniform throughout which is preferred in powerlifting. This is due to the belts ability to distribute equal pressure around the core providing optimal support for lifting extremely heavy amounts of weight, for instance squats and deadlifts.
The weightlifting belt on the right is similar to the powerlifting belt in that there are still several tough layers of leather, strong stitching and a durable steel buckle. However, there is a change in shape between the two belts. The weightlifting belt doesn't share the same thickness and diameter in the front of the belt as it does in the back. This is because weightlifter's often perform Olympic lifts such as the snatch and clean and jerk. During these movements the barbell needs to travel close to the athlete's body uninterrupted. Having a leather belt that is thinner in thickness and diameter allows the bar to travel past it without snagging on the buckle. If using a powerlifting belt to perform snatches or clean and jerks the chances of the bar snagging the belt are higher due to the larger thickness and diameter of leather.
(Weightlifting nylon belt)
Finally, we'll talk about the nylon weightlifting belt depicted above. You might ask what the difference is between this and the weightlifting leather belt, they both have a wide back for support and a smaller tapered front. These belts are similar in design and use, however the nylon allows for more flexibility and versatility. Also this belt has a Velcro strap which allows the belt to be put on and taken off quickly. These features make it ideal for crossfit and functional training because of the fast paced routines and compound movements involved in these workouts. Nylon belts are also good for beginner weightlifters learning form and handling moderate amounts of weight.
Hope this helps clear up any confusion out there. All of these belts are available on our website so check it out and let us know what you think!