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Choosing between a lever belt vs a prong belt feels like a tricky decision when you’re starting out. In reality – as long as you buy a good quality, leather based belt you can’t go too far wrong. With that said, having owned and tried a few different ones I do prefer a lever belt PERSONALLY. Here’s why…
At a glance…
- Support wise it does’t matter: The buckle type does not impact the support the belt offers – so focus on QUALITY of belt
- Lever belts are great for MOST lifters
- They are very easy to take on and off between sets and easier to get nice and tight
- The trade off is they are difficult to adjust for different sizes or users
- Single prong belts are therefore better for those who use different belt holes regularly
- Double prong belts are more awkward than single equivalents and are not recommended over either single prong or levers
TLDR: Is a lever or prong belt BETTER?
I prefer lever belts in most situations as they are quicker and easier to put on and take off. This means you can wear them TIGHTER during the lift as it’s super-simple to release them between sets when you need to catch your breath QUICKLY. With prong belts I found myself leaving them fastened through rest periods which is less comfortable!
Comparison table: Prong vs lever
There are a few comparisons we can draw between these two fastener styles to work out what type of lifting belt is best for your circumstances:
|Ease of fastening & release||Easiest||Harder|
|Time taken to put on||A second or so…||… longer than that!|
|Tightness||Typically can run a notch or two tighter than prong||Usually harder to tighten than lever|
|Adjustability||Difficult, usually via screwdriver||Easy – just use a different hole ad hoc|
|Material||Belt quality dictated by the leather NOT the fastener – a draw||Belt quality dictated by the leather NOT the fastener – a draw|
|Price||Usually slightly more expensive than a prong||Cheaper|
|Reliability||Some instances of levers popping open||Very reliable|
|Support||Identical to prong belt if comparing the same belt material…||Identical to lever belt if comparing the same belt material…|
Prong belts are virtually indestructible while lever belts can occasionally break or pop open under very rare certain circumstances (typically not being worn tight enough can lead to levers popping open if they aren’t broken in).
Ease of adjustment
Most lever belts are locked to a set circumference and need adjusted with a screwdriver if you want to try a different circumference. Prong belts can be adjusted on the fly to the correct setting. These days some lever belts are adjustable – see the offerings from SBD, Pioneer and Zulu Glove for example, but these typically cost a bit more than entry level levers and significantly more than a single prong belt.
Adjustability matters MORE if you share a belt. Even when bulking and cutting you typically get a number of weeks at the same belt size, but if you share a belt you will be swapping several times each session.
Similarly if you like to wear your belt tighter for some lifts than others you will need the ability to flick readily between a couple of settings. This makes a prong (or adjustable lever) better for your circumstances.
It is also a big deal if your circumference varies a lot… So if you work out after BIG meals you may need more wiggle room, or if you regularly swap between t-shirts and jumpers in the gym you will find yourself using several belt holes. If this sounds like you it would bump me towards suggesting a prong belt initially.
Adjusting a lever belt is quite an easy process and takes a minute or so with a screwdriver to do it, but it will break the flow of a workout and would be tiresome to do more than once per session.
Lever belts can usually be worn tighter
Because of the flip mechanism you can typically get a lever belt a notch or two tighter than a prong equivalent as it’s just easier to fasten. Having the option to instantly release it post-lift is very welcome as well!
With that said, when trying to work out how tight to wear your belt don’t mistake TIGHTER for BETTER. A weightlifting belt is all about getting the RIGHT level of tightness that allows you to brace against it effectively – too tight and you won’t be able to brace properly.
Material quality typically isn’t a factor
Assuming you are comparing like for like in terms of belt specification there will be no difference in practical terms between a prong or lever.
In general we aim for a 10mm or 13mm belt with either a single or double layer of leather respectively making up the belt.
This loop of leather is ultimately what provides the tangible support when lifting and – assuming the spec is the same – will be identical support wise regardless of fastener. The fastener is a preference and convenience thing.
Overall I prefer a lever belt for the versatility offered, but I lifted successfully with a double prong belt for around 18months when I first started wearing one to lift.
Remember WHY you want to wear a belt
A weightlifting belt loops around your mid section and provides something for your core to brace AGAINST. By limiting how far your stomach can push OUT it allows the pressure of the air WITHIN to increase, giving us a more rigid torso with better support for the surrounding muscles.
Without a belt there is nothing to limit how far out we can push so the air pressure within the core will naturally be lower.
How does a prong or lever impact this?
Ultimately it doesn’t make a difference – ALL of the above narrative is applicable to both types of belt. The choice between a prong v lever will not impact how the belt functions during a lift.
Does a lever belt offer MORE support?
No, as covered above a lever belt does not offer any more support than a similar spec single or double pronged belt.
The support any belt offers is based on the material they are made of rather than the fastening mechanism. This means an otherwise identical 10mm leather belt with a prong fastener will offer the same support when lifting as 10mm leather belt with a lever clasp.
This is because weightlifting belts are used to provide hoop pressure to your core – so it is the circumference of the belt that matters. The fastener therefore is largely personal choice
Breaking in a belt: Any difference?
The type of clasp used makes no difference to the time taken to break a belt in.
Breaking in a belt typically involves making the leather loop slightly more pliable to mould it to your torso – a prong or lever will not help your with this as it is dependent on the leather in the belt material rather than the clasp.
Of far more importance in terms of comfort and breaking in is the thickness of leather – 10mm belts are far quicker to break in with their (usually) single layer of leather compared to 13mm belts with (usually) two layers.
What about single vs double prong belts?
Double-prong belts are also readily available – but how do they compare? The answer is – not favourably. Overall a double prong exasperates the issues with prong belts for no incremental gain – so they are harder to put on and take off while offering no additional support.
As a reminder the leather is what makes a belt useful when we’re lifting – so a second prong doesn’t add anything in terms of support, while making it more awkward to actually line up the prongs!
My first belt was a double prong which I picked up on sale, and while it was a great belt for the money I can say that looking back, the single and lever belts I have had since are generally easier to use and overall either of the alternatives would be a better choice if buying brand new.
In conclusion you can’t go too far wrong as long as you buy a QUALITY belt with great leather construction then the fastener really is the icing on the cake. If you are comfortable working with limited adjustability then a lever belt wins as it’s just SO EASY to use, however if you need to use different setting regularly a single prong will be more convenient for you!
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