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Which Lifting Belt Width and Thickness is Best for You?

In this video I go over the differences between a 10mm belt and a 13mm belt. I also touch on the differences between a 3 inch belt and a 4 inch belt. There really isn’t a one size fits all product, so hopefully in this video it will get your brain asking the right questions so that you have the correct information before ordering. The product configuration that I recommend to MOST people is the 10mm 4″ Pioneer Cut or PAL lever from us. That configuration is going to best fit most athletes from beginner to advanced in my opinion.

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Pioneer Belt FAQs

What size belt to I need?

Check out this detailed article on how to measure to ensure you get the right size weight belt.

How do I order a super custom belt?

Email [email protected] or feel free to give us a call. M-F 8-5 CST 800-445-5262. We are happy to help you create the perfect weight lifting belt for you.

What if my belt doesn’t fit?

We are unable to accept returns on custom belts due to sizing problems. If you have sizing questions PLEASE reach out PRIOR to placing order. If you ordered a stock belt, we will accept exchanges/returns within 14 days of delivery. You must reach out to us prior to shipping the belt back for an RMA form. You will be responsible for return shipping fees and any exchange shipping fees. Please read our Returns and Exchange policy before ordering.

What size will my embroidery image be on the back of my belt?

If your custom image is tall in height and short in length, your image will be set at 2.75” tall and stretched accordingly. ***IF AT ALL POSSIBLE SEND US A PICTURE OR VIDEO**  If your custom image is long in length, we will stretch the image to 11” and adjust the height accordingly. If you are ordering a training belt, your image will be embroidered according to the size of belt you’re ordering. It will be placed on the back panel of the belt. You can request a proof prior to ordering an embroidered belt of any type. Please add the request to belt notes on ordering page under the “lets finish up”. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions. Custom weight belts are not be eligible for returns.

Should I order a 3″ or 4″ belt?

The best way to decide is stand tall and measure on your side from the top of your hip bone to the bottom rib. If you measure less than 4” order a 3” belt. If you measure more than 4”, go with a 4” belt. It’s all personal preference. These are just recommendations.

What updates will I receive during my belt making process?

You will receive e-mail updates throughout the process, including order confirmation, embroidery, cutting (leather has been cut for your belt), gluing (suede whether embroidery or not has been glued to the leather), sewing (the stitching on the belt has been complete), finishing (your belt has been complete and is awaiting packaging and shipping), complete (states your email has been shipped and you should have tracking by the end of the business day).

What if I want the PIONEER logo on my belt?

We do not charge to add our logo to any custom belt including embroidery. Please request which logo and placement in the belt notes on the ordering page.

What if my belt size isn’t listed?

When ordering your custom belt, stock belts not included, please select the largest size and in the belt notes let us know sizing.

Are you IPF approved?

No – our products can be used in all other federations. If there are any questions, please reach out to the meet director.

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How to Choose the Right Weightlifting Belt for You

We get numerous questions on how to choose the right weightlifting belt so we will do our best to explain to you what we have learned and what has been passed down to us over the last 36 years in our family business. This post may touch on some of the aspects of previous posts but stay with me here and be sure to let me know if this helps… AND if you are still unclear about what weight belt to get, you can always contact us and we will help you build your perfect weight belt!

How do I choose the right style of weight belt for me?

There are 4 different styles of weight lifting belts that we offer here at Pioneer.

Power Belt – This belt is 4” (10cm) in width throughout and is, by far, the most popular belt that we produce. Most popularly used for powerlifting due to the maximum surface area to push against in the front. Options will vary and will be discussed at length later.
Training Belt – This belt is either 4” or 6” in the back and tapers to 2.5” in the front. This belt is most popular for Olympic style training and Bodybuilding. This belt comes in various options which I will discuss in length at the end of this post.
Lever Belt – This belt is 4” (10cm) in width throughout and is actually just a spin off on the Power Belt mentioned above. The lever gives the ability to cinch tighter than one would be able to with the standard prong belt and has a quick release feature to unbuckle at the end of the lift.
Bench/Oly Belt – This belt can be anywhere from 2” – 3” in width. This type belt is most commonly used for benching without hindering the arch and is frequently used for smaller athletes when a 4” belt hits the ribs and/or hips. Options later!

How do I choose the correct thickness for my weight lifting belt?

Here are the different thickness options available:

10mm – 10mm belts are our best seller and tend to have the best reviews from customers. This is also the belt thickness I recommend to almost everyone due to its feel, functionality, and support. These belts, from all manufacturers (to my knowledge), take into consideration the thickness of the suede used to get to the 10mm of thickness. Two pieces of suede (combined) can be anywhere from 1.5mm thick to almost 4mm depending on the supplier. Our belts are made from a single piece of leather that is approximately 7mm thick and then covered in suede, which brings the total thickness to 10mm. Some manufacturers make their 10mm belts with two pieces of leather and two pieces of suede.
6.5mm – 6.5mm belts are the thinnest belt we make. They are very pliable and comfortable, but they are also the least supportive option. For many general trainees, this thickness offers the best blend of support and comfort. All of our 6.5mm belts are made from a single, solid piece of sole leather.
13mm – 13mm belts are meant for the maximum amount of support but generally are the least comfortable. This thickness is most commonly purchased by competitive powerlifters or anyone that is looking for a more rigid and sturdy belt. 13mm belts with no suede will offer the most support because the leather is the maximum legal thickness for most federations. Please note that a 13mm belt with suede on both sides is about 9-10mm of leather thickness and covered in suede to reach the 13mm goal.

What are the options for customizing my weightlifting belt?

Untreated – Untreated belts are just like they sound: untreated, raw leather. These belts are cut from the bend, split, skived, and assembled. They are the most cost effective belt we offer. These do not have camo, suede or any other upgrades.
Treated – Treated belts are bare leather soaked in our proprietary blend of fish and mineral oils which help soften the leather and give it a darker finish. This is a very popular option and IMO makes the best product.
Stitched – This option is purely cosmetic on a 6.5mm belt and offers nothing more to the functionality or durability of the products. All suede, camo, or 13mm belts will have stitching included as this is one of two procedures that keep the belt together.
Single Suede – First and foremost, suede belts can be customized with embroidery. This is something that we specialize in and have had great feedback because of. We use very expensive and heavy garment suede that is usually around 1.5mm-2mm thick (keep that in mind when choosing your belt). Suede offers no support so, to be honest, it offers nothing more than aesthetics to the product if it is on the outside only.
Double Sided Suede – This is the most popular style because it is the most stylish. Every manufacturer offers a double suede belt. Suede on both sides covers any flaws in the leather and just makes for a badass belt. This option can be fully customized with the option to have different colors on the inside and out, and it can be embroidered. Remember that if you choose a 13mm double suede belt, you are getting 9mm-10mm of leather (support) and the 3mm-4mm is the suede that was mentioned in the Thickness section.
Embroidery – This is what we are quickly becoming known for. We can embroider your name, gym logo, or any other image you want on a belt which is appealing to all. We do not put our logo or company name on anything so you can truly make a belt that is YOURS!
Stitch Color – Your options here are extensive and each one can really make your custom belt stand out. Stitch color will not affect the belts performance, but can drastically change the look so be careful on your choice here!
Edging – Edging is something that comes standard with most belt companies, but I wanted to make it an option for you since this is YOUR belt! This is our most popular option and can really finish off the belt.
Powder Coated Hardware – Everyone has Nickel plated buckles and levers so we decided to expand our offerings. We now have levers and buckles in a matte black finish!

Building your perfect weight belt

Use the information above to help you during the process. If you want a cheap and durable belt to last you a long time, go with a simple 6.5mm power belt in treated or untreated raw leather one. If you want to show off in the gym or on the platform, get a suede, camo, sparkle or dyed belt and customize it as crazy as you want. Remember to take in account your torso height and training goals at all times before you spend the money on a belt you don’t need. I will always be available (during normal business hours) to answer any questions or to help you figure out what is best for you!

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A Few Good Men • Pioneer Custom Belts

Our company has made belts for some of the strongest men in the world. We are very proud to know that our products have been tested and trusted by lifters of all different strengths. Here are some of the men that use our belts and/or wraps.

Kevin “Oak”

This belt is for Kevin “Oak”. He is an Animal sponsored athlete. 242lb Raw Powerlifter top 20 All Time with a 2,002lb Total. He will be competing at GPA Worlds in November 2014. Check him out if you don’t know this guy. Follow him on Instagram @oakstrong.

Andrey Malanichev
Andrey Malanichev

This belt was made for Andrey Malanichev. He is a big fan of the band Iron Maiden so naturally we had to get him a belt with their font. Andrey Malanichev is one of the strongest men on earth and recently hit a 1,014lb squat. Follow him on IG @andrey_malanichev.

Larry Wheels

This is Larry Wheels in his new Custom Pioneer Lever Belt. He is a 19 year old Phenom that is taking the powerlifting world by storm. Sponsored by Animal as well! Follow him on IG @larrywheels.

Eric Lilliebridge

This guy’s name should say enough. All time world record holder. Here is a picture of Eric in his new Custom Pioneer Lever Belt. Follow him on IG @ericlilliebridge.

Garrett GUNZ

Garrett GUNZ is an absolute Freak of Nature. He is an Animal Sponsored Powerlifter that loves his Custom Pioneer Power Belt. Follow him on IG @gunz504.

BJ Whitehead

This is BJ Whitehead in his new Custom Pioneer Lever Belt. He is a sponsored powerlifter. Strong AF. Check him out on IG @bjwhitehead.

USMC by Pioneer
USMC by Pioneer

Here is a photo of Kevin G. gear. He is a phenomenal raw bencher. He uses a Custom Pioneer Lever Belt and wraps!

Michael Loyd
Michael Loyd

Michael Loyd is a world record holder and also uses a Pioneer Lever Belt and wraps. He will be competing at GPA worlds next month.

Rob G.

Rob G. is proudly sponsored by us and loves his Custom Pioneer Lever Belt and wraps! Check him out on IG @nov_rob.


Luigi F.

Luigi F. Is another guy that you need to check out. He is an absolute beast. His has a couple of Custom Pioneer Belts. Follow him on IG @luigifagiani.


Pioneer Custom Belts
Pioneer Custom Belts

Here is a cool picture of some of our work on some really awesome people. @oakstrong, @rebeccasaurus_flex and @larrywheels.

We are extremely proud that these guys and girls have trusted us to make their belts. They are all extremely accomplished lifters with bigger things yet to come. I cannot express how much each and every customer means to myself, my family, and our business. Thank you to everyone that has supported us throughout the years!

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Pioneer Custom Made Weightlifting Belts

Philippians 4:13 Custom Weightlifting Belt

@Pioneerfit2014 Custom Weightlifting Belt
@Pioneerfit2014 Custom Weightlifting Belt

What better investment is there than one in yourself? Why wouldn’t you want to show your personality and who you are while you are on the platform? Why not make a statement to your peers while you are setting new PR’s? These are all questions that we can help with. We have taken our world class products and made them available to customize. We are the ONLY manufacturer in the world that is making CUSTOM belts that are geared for Power Lifters. Yes there is one other out there that I know of that is doing customized belts, but they are asking for you to give them your money for 12-16 weeks and in return giving you a beautiful but nonfunctional belt made of garment leather. This is where we come in. We make belts that are guaranteed for life. Guaranteed to stand up to the heaviest pulls or squats your body can take. The Pioneer brand has made these “tough as nails” belts for 35+ years but has now entered the customized game.

Philippians 4:13 Custom Weightlifting Belt
Philippians 4:13 Custom Weightlifting Belt

The customization process is easy. All you need to do is figure out which style you are looking for and add the options you desire. You can pick from multiple colors of suede and camouflage designs and input what you want your belt to say. Most customers thus far have used their last names or favorite sayings, but more and more buyers are using their Twitter or Instagram tags. This is the perfect way to let people know who the F*** you are! When you are on the platform people will notice the weight in hand and what you are wearing. They will notice what suit you have on, what wraps you are wearing, and what belt is supporting you but they won’t know your name and what you stand for. Put a Bible verse or another code that you live your life by so the cameras and piers will know that you are not just lifting heavy weights, but they will know what you stand for. My favorite belt so far that we have created has Philippians 4:13 embroidered on the back. This guy uses this Bible verse on every facet of his life from strength during tough times to strength on the platform. This is what I am talking about. Why not customize a belt that promotes yourself and your message?

@OakStrong Custom Belt
@OakStrong Custom Belt

OK, now back to the process. Once you have chosen what style you want and have picked out the color options, you will type in what you want your belt to read. You can choose from Block or Script font and if you have a special request let me know and I will see if I can make it happen. You can then choose what color stitching you want. Choose from White, Black, Yale Blue, and Red. The stitch color can either blend in or contrast your design making the belt more noticeable or faded. Last but not least, you can add the option for edging. Our edging is all done by hand here in the shop. The majority of people like the edging because they think it will make the belt look “more complete.” This is a personal preference and has no impact on the belt whatsoever but hey, that’s what this is all about.

Malan-Power Custom Belt
Malan-Power Custom Belt

If you want to promote a business by wearing a belt with their logo stamped on it that is your choice, but until now, you had no other option. We are trying to give you the option to make a belt that will stand up to your tests and look awesome while you do it. I cannot tell you how your belt will look but I do post pictures of all of the custom belts on our IG page for you to reference while choosing what you want. If we do not have what you are looking for, please let me know and I will do what I can to get you a belt that you are proud to wear. I cannot promise I will get it done, but I can promise I will give it my best effort. We honestly strive to make products that are the best out there and I am very confident that we are there!

Please contact me personally if you have any questions regarding a custom product. I will try my best to get back with you ASAP with the answers to your questions.

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Pioneer™ Power Lifting Belt or Pioneer™ Weightlifting Belt???

The Pioneer™ Power Lifting Belt

The biggest and most noticeable difference between a Power Belt and a Weight Belt is the width in the leather. Power Lifting Belts are the same width all the way around. Most Power Belts are 4″ wide, but there has been a shift among Olympic lifters and women towards a 3″ around belt. The 10cm (4″) Power Belt offers the most support giving you 4″ of material to push against & acquire the maximum amount of intra -abdominal pressure. Intra-abdominal pressure is the pressure built up within the abdomen to keep the spine in place during stressful work. All exercise belts help increase that pressure, which helps the spine stay in place during those heavier lifts. The Power Lifting Belt is ideal for competitive powerlifters, strongman athletes, and bodybuilders, but can be used by gym goers that like to lift as much as they can. Power Lifting Belts are typically used for exercises like Back & Front Squats, Deadlifts, Power Cleans, and occasional Overhead Presses. Wearing a belt in general is a controversial topic, but a good rule of thumb is to always use good form and bring your belt along when you are working at 80% of your 1RM (one rep max).

Power Lifting Belts

  • Same width all the way around
  • Can come with a lever buckle, single prong or double prong
  • Usually 7mm, 10mm, or 13mm thick
  • Most support given for heavy loads
  • Great for Squats, Deads, Cleans, and OH press

The Pioneer™ Weightlifting Belt

Like I said previously, the biggest difference between a Power Belt and a Weightlifting or Training Belt is the width in the front. Weightlifting belts are usually either 4″ or 6″ in the back and taper to 2″-2.5″ in the front. The taper in the belts are what made them popular. As opposed to the Power Belt, the Training Belt will taper down away from your rib cage giving you a more comfortable support system. You will not be able to create as much intra-abdominal pressure with only having 2.5″ of material to push against but Training belts will still offer ample support. This belt has gained popularity in the Olympic Lifting movement because the buckle is smaller, and as previously stated, more comfortable. This belt is still great for Squats, Deads, and Presses but at a lighter weight. In addition to these exercises, the Training Belt is preferred for movements like the Snatch, Power Clean, and Jerk. Remember, using a belt will not prevent back injuries, so please lift smart by using good form and staying within your means. Pioneer™ 4″ Training/Weightlifting Belt

Weightlifting Belts

  • 4″ or 6″ in the back and tapers to 2.5″ in the front
  • Can come with double or single prongs
  • Usually 6mm-13mm in thickness
  • Offers good support during medium-heavy lifts
  • Great for Snatches, and Jerks
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How to Measure for a Weight Belt by Pioneer Fitness

Instructions and video on how to measure belt size. Learn the correct way to measure your waist size for your custom weight belt.

How to Measure your waist for your weightlifting belt?

  • Use a pliable measuring tape or seamstress tape.
  • Measure around your waist, about 4 inches above where your pants are. *Do not “suck in”, measure in a relaxed state, then pull the measuring tape tight. Use this measurement to choose your correct belt size.
  • Take that measurement and use the size guide on the belt you are interested in ordering.
X-Small- 22″-31″
Small- 27″- 36″
Medium- 31″-40″
Large- 35″-44″
X-Large- 39″-48″
XX-Large- 43″-52″
XXX-Large- 47″-56″
If you have any doubt to your belt size, please contact us as we will be more than happy to help.

Additional information when measuring for a weight belt

Weightlifting/Power Lifting Belts are worn well above where you wear your shorts or pants, this means they are worn above the hip bones. Most people are inclined to use their pant size for a weightlifting belt. This often ends up with the belt not fitting correctly. Ordering the correct size is very important. If you have any questions at all contact us at 800-445-5262 and we will help you determine the correct size. We are unable to accept returned belts due to incorrect size or options.