Should I Invest in a Belt or Knee Sleeves?

I notice a lot of the guys at the gym pushing serious weight wear belts and knee sleeves when they train. I’m still not one of those guys yet but my lifts are starting to get tougher on my body so I’d like to do whatever I can to help avoid potential injury.

Anyhow here are some relevant stats. I train with the classic 5×5. I’m about 6 feet tall and weigh 180. Even though I’m 180 most people would say I look very lean/ scrawny.

Squat : 285 lbs for 5×5
Deadlift : 335 lbs for 1×5
OHP : 120 lbs for 5×5 (not sure if I should use a belt for this even if I bought one)

I’ve always prioritized great form over heavier weight. When I lift I always feel like the hardest part is making sure my back stays straight. I always make sure to focus on breathing, and maintaining proper tension throughout all my reps. When I squat or deadlift my back always starts to get fatigued before my legs do. Would a belt help? Should I wait until I’m stronger without it before I start using one?

I’m only interested in getting stronger and staying healthy. I’m not interested in actually lifting heavier numbers since I’m not a competetive powerlifter or an ego lifter. So if I am able to lift more I want the reason for it to be that I’m stronger and not that I used special equipment. Dont think I’d ever be interested in squat shoes or knee wraps.

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Don’t wait around to “get stronger” or anything, get yourself a belt now.


Any recommendations on a brand or type of belt?

I got a pioneer belt and I think it’s pretty cool. I’d recommend 10mm lever single prong (or pioneer cut), but there’s plenty of folks much stronger than me that prefer the lever. 13mm is fine, too, but a lot stiffer and quite a bit tougher to break in - I think that will be frustrating if you’ve never used one before. Unless you’re very short, I’d get a 4” width; if you are short through the torso, a 3” will be more comfortable. I would not recommend a tapered “bodybuilding” style belt, but maybe some folks would; I just don’t get the brace I want out of it.

All that said, Rogue has an economy stock single prong 10mm belt that I think would serve very well and is a friendly price.

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Are you in the US and A?

If so, I would look for an Inzer belt or one from Pioneer. People love belts from both of those companies. Inzer are the suede looking ones and Pioneer are the raw leather looking ones.

You’re looking for a 4 inch width belt. Like 4 inches thick all the way around, not tapered in the front or anything.

For thickness you can go with the full 13mm, double ply, regular belt. If you’re looking for something a little less stiff you could try a single ply, 6.5mm belt.

I like a single prong instead of a double prong or a lever.

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I bought knee sleeves recently to keep my knees warm in my cold garage gym. I really like them. They offer some support, but more importantly they keep my knees from getting overly cold.

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I would get both. Knee pain is completely gone for me. Pioneer makes really good belts. They break in quicker than inzer if you want that molded to your body feel (some don’t want that though). You can get pioneer belts through elitefts for a lot less money, but it will be branded elitefts. I really like the 13 mm pioneer cut. It took about a month to break in.

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That’s the same belt I have and I also like it.

I skimmed over the knee sleeve question. I love these. I wear 7mm rehband - I would definitely recommend 7mm neoprene. I probably get a little out of them, but mainly it helps my knees not hurt so bad. I sized them so they’re tight, but I can wear them the whole workout without being uncomfortable. They typically call this “tight” fit in their size charts (vs. “competition” on one end or “normal” on the other).

Really a good question, even elbow sleeve can be very good i think. for the belt only lock when u use it, and not for the warm up, i heard that, i will buy a belt to when i start to squat a bit heavy (100 kilo)

I am a fan of both knee sleeves and using a belt

I think sleeves are a great idea. They really dont add any weight to the bar, they’re just there for comfort and stability. Which is never a bad thing. If they feel better, that’s great. Just be ready to drop money on a good pair.

Belts are a different story. At the end of the day, do what’s comfortable. Belts are just safer. I think it’s always in your best interest to lift as much as you can every day without the belt, but add it in as stability starts to break down. But a good belt with proper bracing will absolutely allow you to push more weight in all the big lifts.