A good belt is an important item in any lifter’s kit, whether they’re a weightlifter, powerlifter or strongman. A belt will provide support for the lower back and trunk, allowing heavier weights to be lifted in exercises like the squat, clean and jerk and deadlift. While there’s a temptation to only pay what you need to for a belt that will do the bare minimum, a top end belt is a true investment in your lifting career and something that, if taken care of properly, will last you for years.
Inzer Forever Belt Review
The name of Inzer‘s Forever series of belts certainly plays up to that notion of longevity. These are well constructed beasts, made from layers of high quality and hard-wearing leather with durable metal fixtures. No matter what belt from the series you buy, there’s a real weight and heft about them that speak highly of their build quality and offer reassurance that your belt isn’t going to fail you when you need it most.
For the purposes of this review, we’re going to be taking a look at the Inzer Forever Lever Belt 13mm. Other belts in the Forever series will share many of the same attributes with this model, although the 10mm thickness version will obviously offer a bit less support and the prong,double prong and quick release versions each come with their own advantages and disadvantages versus the lever model.
Belt materials, build quality, lever mechanism
Inzer belts are made in the USA from a single piece of solid leather. Many cheaper belts use a series of thinner layers glued and stitched together and sometimes reinforced with metal rivets. Over time these can come apart and reduce the support you get from the belt; eventually a point will come where the belt is so frayed that it needs to be replaced. This isn’t an issue with the Forever belt. The leather is covered with a layer of non-slip suede – available in a wide range of colours – that gives the belt a soft but slightly rough finish that generates enough friction so that the belt won’t slip and slide around.
The overall build quality of the Forever line is excellent; these things really are meant to stand the test of time. The belt is held together by six rows of nylon thread double lock stitches, which unlike metal rivets are resistant to rusting. The needlework is top quality and there are no protruding threads that potentially snag and unravel. The holes that run round one side of the belt to attach the lever mechanism are cleanly punched and spaced evenly so that everything lines up nicely and there are no fragments of leather left in the holes.
The Forever belt’s lever is a large and heavy chunk of metal screwed on to the front of the belt. Two hooks on the rear of the lever slot into holes punched in the leather on the opposite side of the belt. At this point, the belt is fairly loose fitting but closing the lever changes this. The main advantage of a lever over a prong belt is that it can achieve a much closer fit to the lifter’s body. Inzer claim that their lever mechanism can be adjusted up to three inches tighter than a standard prong belt. I’ve never managed to achieve such a snug fit myself but there’s no denying that the lever does give a much tighter fit than any other belt I’ve used – at times it can be almost uncomfortably tight.
Sizing and Fit
Using the Inzer Forever Belt on Squat
I chose a size L when buying my belt. According to the Inzer site, this is good for waist sizes of 36-39 inches but actually it’ll do fine a few inches to either side too. My waist size is currently a little over 34 inches due to losing weight recently and there’s plenty of room for adjustment; getting a good tight fit isn’t a problem. Adjustments are made by moving the lever mechanism along a series of holes that run around the belt. The lever is screwed on to a back plate on the inside of the belt; these screws need to be removed, the mechanism taken off and moved and then screwed back in place. Ideally you will want a screwdriver for this but I’ve found that a suitably sized washer or coin will do the job in a pinch. This does make adjusting the belt on the fly – like two different lifters straining together and sharing a belt – a bit of a pain, so you’ll usually just want to find the right fitting for you and leave things as they are.
One issue I did encounter with the belt is its height from top to bottom. The distance between the bottom of my ribcave to the top of my pelvis isn’t very big and I find that the belt tends to dig into one or other of them, or occasionally both. It doesn’t hurt when using the belt – actually it’s quite cosy – but it does sometimes leave minor bruises and abrasions around the top of my hips. This is very much downto my own physiology and others who own the same belt haven’t encountered it, but it is worth keeping in mind if you’re thinking of buying an Inzer Forever belt.
One other thing to note is that the belt can sometimes be a pain to get off, especially if it’s set up to be very tight. You can pop the lever to relieve the pressure on your abdomen but you then need to get the teeth of the lever out of the holes on the other side of the belt to take it off. This isn’t that hard to do but it does take a little while to master sliding the teeth out of the hole and I had a couple of mildly embarrassing incidents where I couldn’t get the thing off easily and e ded up needing to wriggle out. Newbie error to be sure but consider yourself forewarned!
Using the Belt
Probably the first thing you’ll notice with the 13mm version of the belt is how tough it is to break in. Even with regular use, you’re looking at several weeks to get the leather supple enough to really fit tightly to your body and if you only belt up at the heavy end of your squat cycle, you may find that it takes months. The 10mm is a bit easier to bend and manipulate by hand so it can be broken in a lot more quickly, potentially after a week or two of regular use.
I mostly use my Inzer Forever Lever belt for squats. It offers huge amount of support and offers an enormous increase in trunk strength and stability. The physical dimensions of the belt are such that it’s possible to really brace your abs against it, locking your torso in tight and allowing you get a tighter, more stable setup that makes the whole lift easier. If your trunk and your torso bowing over is your weak point on squats, as it is for most people, this belt will make a huge difference to your lifts.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get quite as much benefit from the belt on deadlifts. There’s a couple of factors in play here. Firstly, the rigidity of the leather and the thickness of the 13mm version mean that it’s just a bit too stiff for my liking. It doesn’t quite fit the contours of my back, which is moving more than in the squat, and so doesn’t offer the same degree of support. Secondly, the sheer bulk of the belt interferes with my setup and makes it difficult for me to bring my glutes and hips into the lift when breaking the bar from the floor. This is mostly a question of individual anatomical proportions but a softer belt definitely works better for me on deadlift that the Inzer Forever.
The other lift that I’ve tried the belt on was the clean and jerk… which was interesting, to say the least. Just as on the squat, there’s plenty of support to be had; your torso isn’t going anywhere. On the clean, however, the size of the belt interferes with the bottom position of the catch and it’s hugely likely that you’ll smash your hip flexors into the bottom of it when catching a heavy weight. On the jerk this isn’t really an issue and actually, the belt does the job quite nicely, even if the weight of the lever at the front feels a bit strange on the dip and drive. All in all, you probably aren’t going to want to wear the Forever belt for the clean and jerk – although Inzer do offer a tapered version that might work better.
Pricing and Availability
Wearing the Inzer Forever belt for deadlifts
The Inzer Forever series of belts do not come cheap, and this is doubly true if you live in Europe. Pricing for the range in the USA starts at $89.95 directly from Inzer, with shipping on top of that. Prices vary depending on what model and level of customisation you opt for; there are numerous colour combinations and frills like custom text on the rear of the belt you can get but these cost extra and need to be specially made. For reference, the 13mm black Forever Lever version reviewed here costs $97 before shiping.
If you are ordering from Europe, things get considerably more expensive. The base cost of the belt remains the same but shipping costs are often more than the value of the belt itself. That $97 belt actually costs nearly $120 to post to Europe. Then there’s customs charges, which vary from country to country, but can add an extra 30% or more on to the total cost. All in, you can be talking £170 or more to import an Inzer belt from the USA to the UK and the process may take several months from putting your order in to the belt arriving on your doorstep.
There are a couple of other options that can help to bring costs down. One route is to order from a reseller in the US, such as House of Pain, rather than from Inzer directly. Shipping costs can be anything up to 50% cheaper than direct from the manufacturer and the reduced total cost may mean you pay less at customs too. The downside is that you’ll generally have less choice, since the resellers won’t carry more unusual colour combinations or supply custom jobs.
Probably the cheapest way to get hold of an Inzer belt if you live in Europe though, is to order from one of the German companies who import their products, like Hantel-Hartmann. The base cost of the belt is a usually a good bit more expensive than the US price due to VAT in Europe but shipping is much, much cheaper and, assuming you live in the EU, you won’t need to pay any customs charges.
The Inzer Lever Forever Belt is a serious and high quality bit of kit, whether you buy it in its 10mm or 13mm incarnation. It’s undoubtedly belt suited to powerlifters and strongman competitors; weightlifters and Crossfitters may find that the sheer bulk of the belt interferes with the range of motion of the snatch and clean and jerk. That said, even those lifters will be hard-pressed to find a belt that offers this much support when squatting. Make no mistake, if you’re currently using a small tapered belt, this thing is almost certainly going to put kilos on your squat.
There’s no getting away from the fact that Inzer belts are pricey but when you consider that the belt will last years and potentially decades if looked after properly, it starts to look like a pretty shrewd investment. Far better to splash out once for a belt that could last for your entire lifting career rather than ponying up half the amount you’d have spent on the Forever belt every couple of years on an inferior product. If you’ve got the money to spend, the Inzer Forever Lever belt comes highly recommended.