If you’re going to start barbell training, there’s some equipment you’ll want to purchase beforehand.
The first item you should pick up is a set of lifting shoes. They are relatively inexpensive and will keep your feet flat with a little bit of lift in the heel. The second item of importance is a weightlifting belt.
Today, we’re going to review a belt from Dominion Strength. As an avid listener of the Barbell Logic Podcast, I came across Dominion Strength Training., as they were a featured in one of the episodes.
After learning that the company was a small family owned business, I decided to reach out.
Why Do I Need a Weightlifting Belt?
For many years, there was a conventional wisdom out there that belts were a crutch and should not be used for any form of exercise if one wanted to develop a strong core.
Once the bro science subsided, people used actual science to prove that belts are beneficial for use in many exercises. Which is harder? Flexing your abs against the air or having them push against something? That’s Physics 101.
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Your body works as a complete system and by taking a deep breath, using the Valsalva maneuver, you are engaging the entire core, not just your abs or lower back.
This is crucial for keeping your spine in the correct position. People mistake the belt as a crutch because nearly all lifts become easier.
The pressure should be distributed evenly so if you see a belt with a thicker backside or it’s so thin it can be folded along the short side, you are looking at a company that fundamentally doesn’t understand basic physics much less strength training. A belt like this could get you seriously injured.
I use a weightlifting belt for the squat, deadlift and press. For standing accessory exercises such as a barbell curl, the belt provides me with a ‘cue’, a mental reminder to lock out my core, hips and knees to prevent energy leaks and focus on the muscle I am training.
Dominion Strength Training
I love telling the story of small business owners and entrepreneurship, people who take risks to provide value to society. The money is always an afterthought when it comes to following a passion.
Dominion Strength is owned by Blake and Katie Roache. They manufacture the belts down in Orlando, Florida. He’s a mechanical engineer by trade and she’s a microbiologist.
As crossfitters, they moved into Starting Strength training and discovered that they could not find a quality belt on the market.
Their move into making belts started with a botched attempted working with overseas suppliers who sent them 1000 belts with inferior hardware that was rusted upon delivery.
That mistake led them to move the entire concept to the U.S. I think they made the right move…
The Dominion Strength Weightlifting Belt
While Dominion has several belt designs, this review is on their original design, a 3-inch, single prong belt. It has grey suede on both sides which gives it a good feel but also helps keep it in place.
A 3-inch belt is the most universal size as its designed to fit above your hips and below your ribcage. For men of modest height, this will definitely be your choice.
The stock color grey is great because it matches everything, is unisex, highly functional and hides any chalk you get on it over time.
It’s made from high quality top grain cow leather and the hardware is second to none. They are manufactured on 100+ year old leather sewing machines and the details are finished by hand.
What makes Dominion Strength different from other belt companies is they produce stock sizes.
I chose size small which covers a waist between 25-35”. The site says they are able to ship belts in a week but I received one in just a few days. They found a unique need in the market.
Other companies offer customization to varying degrees but expect to wait a minimum of six weeks before receiving your belt. What will you do until then?
Putting It to Work
When I first received the belt, I put it through a break in process. Many suggest rolling up the belt and tying it up for a few days.
I also used a second method which is done by folding over the belt and rolling it through the hands while trying to crush it along the way.
The belt broke in very fast and was comfortable on the first wearing. Many belts are stiff as a board and feel like they are cutting into you. A belt isn’t meant to wear like silk but we can all only tolerate so much discomfort.
My first use was in this order: squat, deadlift and press. The belt performed like a champ and was easy to take off in-between sets. If you enjoy wearing a belt through the entire workout, it’s not tight enough.
The roller is the best part of the hardware and made levering the belt on and off easy.
After my time at the Fivex3 gym, I have been using the belt for a few months and it only gets better with each wearing. While belts aren’t complicated, they can do wonders for your training when used properly.
Dominion Strength Double Ply Weightlifting Belt
After using the single ply belt (above) for a few months, I decided to gift it to my friend who is still actively using it. He also lifts a lot more weight than I do!
There are many differing opinions about how thick a belt should be but a general rule of thumb is a thicker belt is more supportive but usually less comfortable.
This generalization is based upon the fact that thicker leather is stiffer and less likely to bend to the contours of the body making it feel more like armor rather than silk.
Upon receiving the Dominion double-ply belt, I can say it felt no different than the first when it came to comfort. I broke in the belt by rolling it with my foot on the floor in both directions.
Suede located on the inside of the belt tends to be the preference of the lifter and I like the added grip it provides.
This belt, however, was oiled leather on the outside and aesthetically pleasing. Chalk tends to make grey suede look old and yellowish but good ole fashioned tanned leather never goes out of style here. Then again, we’re going for function, not fashion, right?
Like before, I chose a 3 inch belt in size Small. At the time of this writing, I’ve been using the belt for a few months and have no intention of switching, unless Dominion comes out with something new.
Both belts provide great value for the price.
Barbell Logic 4 Inch Lever Weightlifting Belt
Two things happened in 2020 (besides COVID). During a workout in January, I put on my 3 inch belt and wanted to get it one hole tighter so I held the belt on rack and leaned back with all my weight to ratchet it down. In the process, I crushed my rib and could barely breathe afterward.
I immediately went to get an x-ray which revealed my rib was not fractured or broken but I did beat the cartilage.
It took about four weeks to heal but instead of taking time off per doctors orders, my expert barbell coach, Matt Reynolds just did a deload on my squat from 300lbs back to 185lbs. Within four weeks, I was back to 300lbs.
The second thing that happened is when I hit 315lbs on squat, I was having immensive difficulty keeping my core tight at the bottom of the movement. With long femurs, I have to sit back and lean over more than the average person. My coach recommended a 4 inch belt and I can say it has made all the difference.
There are pros and cons to going with a lever belt. The thing I like is that it is easier to put on, take off and easy to get tight. The waist setting is preset based on where you set the screws.
One downside to the belt is that the metalwork is significantly heavier than a prong belt. If you are a smaller person, the lever may get in the way with a tight bent-over deadlift position.
The second thing is if you change waist sizes often from eating, salt, creatine and water, you might have trouble getting the belt on in some days. There is no way to change the waist size easily, even if you brought a screwdriver to the gym.
I liked the Barbell Logic branded 4 inch lever belt so much, I ordered the 3 inch version for deadlifts. When I traveled home for the holidays, I had both belts attached to the exterior my A7 U-Bag and they easily made it through security despite being odd looking, heavy and clunky.
In this review, I also have on the newly released Barbell Logic bar grip A7 branded shirt which is immensively helpful for both squats and bench.
Dominion Strength Dip Belt
After learning how to barbell train with the basic lefts such as squats, deadlifts, presses and bench press, you’ll move to accessory lifts and alternate ways to target muscles.
The dip belts primary use in its name, for triceps dips. Now you’ll need a set of bars to dip between and for some people, their shoulders won’t like such a movement.
The dip belt is a great way to harness gravity in a new way without using a barbell.
In addition, the dip belt can be used for chin-ups. Usually it takes people a while before there are up to this level. Heck, even the world’s strongest man can only do six.
Dominion Strength Dip Strap
In 2020, Dominion Strength released the dip strap, which is a more low profile and convenient alternative to their standard dip belt. This strap feels a lot different the way it loads your body.
I also like it better with the 4 inch belt as the fit is much tighter. The dip strap uses both less leather and chain and comes in at a lower price point. This is also a better option if you travel and need the bag space. Note: For air travel, you’ll need to put this in a checked bag.
During a trip home during the holidays, TSA would not allow me to carry on the chain. After confiscation, I texted Blake and he sent me a new chain free of charge. How’s that for customer service?!?
Bonus Review: Dominion Strength Deadlift Jack
Somewhere along the way, Blake had extra leather as he was crafting belts. He decided to rivet spare leather strips together to create the Deadlift Jack which is by far the most simplistic yet useful accessory in your gym bag.
For deadlifting, most gyms have plates that are the same diameter from 10 all the way to 45lbs. As the poundage goes up, it becomes harder to lift one end of the bar to add weights.
For someone like myself that is pulling over 315lbs, that’s three 45s on each side. It takes a lot of awkward movement and energy just to get the bar loaded.
In comes the deadlift jack. With one set of weights on each side, just roll the bar up onto the jack. The riveted squares at the top are perfectly spaced to hold the bar in place that way you can easily add or remove weights.
One use and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them!
The deadlift is a max exertion exercise which requires every bit of energy you’ve got. Messing around trying to put on plates while bent over can be exhausting.
The Dominion Deadlift Jack is by far the best money you’ll ever spend on barbell related fitness equipment.
Dominion Strength Training is an excellent company ran by a couple that believe in the power of the barbell. Their product is one of the best on the market with speedy delivery and excellent customer service.
A good belt should last you a lifetime and theirs are guaranteed for just such a timeline. If you are looking to get into fitness training, start with barbells.
When you do that, shoes and a belt will be your first investment. If you get that far, give this company a look before taking action.
You won’t be disappointed.