How To Break In A New Lifting Belt (6 Effective Methods)

Weightlifting belts are fantastic accessories for any gym-goer serious about their resistance training.  

However, when it comes to wearing one, they aren’t always comfortable. Have you been wondering how to break in a lifting belt?  

By the end of this article, you’ll know all of the best tips and tricks to break in your new lifting belt without spending months trying. 

A weightlifting belt is a specially designed belt made from leather, nylon, or suede.  

Lifting belts create additional intra-abdominal pressure to help you lift more and help your spine remain stable during heavy loads.  

But, they need breaking in to help soften the material to make the belt more comfortable and effective.  

To break in your lifting belt, use these techniques: 

1. Wear The Belt Often 

This might sound simple, but it’s arguably the most effective way to break in your weightlifting belt.  

While you don’t want to be wearing the belt during bicep curls or any other exercises you wouldn’t usually require a lifting belt for, you can put the belt on during your warm-up sets for compound exercises.

Wear the belt for exercises such as the deadlift, squats, military press, power cleans, and any other movements you’d typically use a lifting belt 

Using the belt during the exercises you bought the belt for will help it adjust to how your body moves, softening in the places it needs.  

The more you can wear your belt, the faster it will break in 

I always recommend a high frequency of wearing during the first few weeks. This will have your lifting belt fully broken in within the first week.

Related Article - When Should You Use A Lifting Belt?

2. Use Elbow Grease Or Leather Conditioner 

A leather conditioner can help soften your lifting belt's material. While this is a popular method to help break in a lifting belt, I find it’s not as good as the other methods mentioned on this list.  

Sure, it works. However, I find the other methods easier, and you don’t need to go out of your way to buy a specific product.  

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3. Sweat More During Workouts 

When wearing your new weightlifting belt, ensure you’re sweating while you workout.

The added moisture from your sweat will help soften the material, making it more flexible.  

On top of the moisture, your body heat will warm the belt up, making the belt’s pores expand, allowing more moisture to get inside the belt.

Your body heat and sweat go hand in hand, making it one of the best ways to break- in your belt.

Tip: After your workout, let your lifting belt dry naturally. Artificially drying leather or suede will cause it to crack and significantly affect your belt’s durability.  

Another helpful tip is to NOT pour water over the belt. Moisture is only good if it’s warm, and water will cool too quickly. Stick to body heat and sweat.  

4. Heat It Up  

Heating your lifting belt will help soften the material regardless of if it’s leather, suede, or nylon. There are several ways to heat your new lifting belt during the breaking in process.  

One of the easiest ways is to leave your belt outside or inside your car during the summer months. Be sure to only do this during the summer, though, or if you live in a warmer climate.  

Once the belt is warm, you’ll find it easier to roll and manipulate, which is one of the best ways to break in your lifting belt.  

If you’re currently in the winter months or live somewhere with a cooler climate, I recommend keeping your belt indoors and not in your car.  

You can also use a hairdryer to heat the belt. While using a hairdryer is an excellent option, it involves manually sitting there and using the hair dryer on your lifting belt, which can be time-consuming. 

how to break in a lifting belt

5. Use Olive Oil 

Olive oil can help break in your new lifting belt, and it helps soften the belts materials and even help maintain it, extending the lifting belts life.  

The easiest way to apply the olive oil is to use the oil on an old cloth or T-shirt and rub it along the lifting belt’s leather.  

Once you’ve applied the olive oil, start bending and manipulating the lifting belt to help the oil get into every inch of the belt.  

If you don’t have olive oil to hand, you can use petroleum jelly or rubbing alcohol. – Both of which have similar properties that’ll help soften your lifting belts.  

6. Work It With Your Hands  

One of the most common methods for breaking in a lifting belt is to roll and manipulate the belt when it’s not in use.  

The easiest way is to toll the belt up as tightly as possible in one direction, then unravel it and roll it in the opposite direction.  

With some belts, you might only need to repeat this process several times, and you’ll begin to notice a difference in the lifting belts flexibility. It’ll become easier and easier the more you roll it.  

I recommend putting your favorite Netflix show on and using your lifting belt as a mini forearm workout.  

Another less time-intensive way of manipulating the lifting belt is to roll it up tight and leave it in your gym bag for a day or two. You can keep the belt wrapped tightly by placing a resistance band around it to hold it in place.  

Related Article - Lifting Belt Sizing Guide

How To Break In a New Lifting Belt

What Should You Not Do To Your Brand New Lifting Belt?

There are a few things you shouldn’t do when breaking in your new lifting belt: 

  1. 1
    Don’t pour water on it.  
  2. 2
    Avoid leaving it in the cold (especially in your car during cooler temperatures).  
  3. 3
    Don’t dry it out too quickly after a workout.  
  4. 4
    Try not to overdo it. You want the belt to retain some rigidity.  

Why Should You Break In A New Lifting Belt? 

Breaking in a new lifting belt is one of the most important things you can do to make the belt more comfortable during your workouts and help extend the life of your new lifting belt.

The more you wear your belt and break it in, the more moisture can get inside the belt. This helps soften the material and allows it to fit your body.

The last thing you want is an awkward and uncomfortable weightlifting belt strapped to you during your workout.

As the belt contains more moisture, it reduces the risk of the belt cracking. This helps extend the lifespan of your new lifting belt, so you don’t have to buy a new belt anytime soon.

One of the main reasons I always break in my lifting belts is to avoid the annoying bruises and marks a stiff belt can leave on your torso.

What Happens If You Don’t Break in Your Lifting Belt?

If you decide not to break in your lifting belt, there are some pros and cons to consider, but not breaking your belt in is mainly negative 

Firstly, the belt will naturally start breaking in as you wear it, and this process takes time but will occur quicker the more you wear the belt.  

However, failing to soften the belt and breaking it in can leave it feeling uncomfortable during the first few weeks. This might hinder your workouts as you won’t want to wear the belt as often (which will only slow down the natural breaking in process).  

Another point to consider is that part of the breaking in process traditionally uses oil to soften the belt. If you’re using a leather lifting belt, the oil will help extend the lifting belts life, preventing the leather from cracking over time.  

I’ve also found an over rigid lifting belt can negatively affect certain exercise performance. Deadlifts and squats require hip and knee hinge movements which can cause a still belt to dig into your body... it’s far from ideal.  

Read Also - How Tight Should Lifting Belts Be?


Frequently Asked Lifting Belt Break-In Questions 

How long does breaking in a new belt take? 

It can take a few days to a couple of months to break in your weightlifting belt. It’s primarily dictated by the frequency you’re using the belt, the material, and the belt’s size.  

I always recommend wearing the belt as often as you can during the first week to allow you to break it in a lot quicker.  

What belt material is easy to break in? 

Some weightlifting belts are easier to break in than others. One of the toughest to break in is leather, as it can be thick and have heavy-duty stitching. Whereas nylon belts often don’t need breaking-in. 

While leather takes longer to break in, you can use the techniques mentioned above to soften the belt and make it more comfortable to use.  

How do you break in a padded lifting belt? 

Breaking in a padded lifting belt is similar to breaking in any weightlifting belt. While rolling the belt repeatedly might be more difficult, you can use heat, oil, and rubbing alcohol.  

Wearing the belt regularly during the initial few weeks will help break it in.  


Conclusion

While having a weightlifting belt is fantastic, knowing how to break in a new weightlifting belt can be challenging.  

The article above gives you the 6 easiest methods to break in your lifting belt.  

Try them out on your new lifting belt, and you’ll notice your belt feels more comfortable the next time you use it.  

Paul J

Last Updated on September 9, 2022