What is the history of belts? What is the history of belts?

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Thread: What is the history of belts?

  1. #1
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    Default What is the history of belts?

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    With the recent threads about belts, I am wondering what the history is.

    Who decided that it would be a good idea to wrap a piece of stiff leather around their waist and realize that it helped their lifting. Are weight lifting belts a newer invention, or have they been around for many years? I am assuming the idea for the belts came from some sort of necessity in a different industry.

    Any historians out there?

  2. #2
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    I actually would love an answer for this. Especially in regards to the Oly style belt with the taper. I mean, it seems weird they'd ever bother with the back width, but if someone can give me a date when that style of belt was being used, I have an inkling why it may have come to exist...

    That said, they can't be that new. Using thick belts to assist in the continental style of bringing a weight from floor to chest was common before the first Olympic Weightlifting competition.

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    Default Everything Else Is A Cheap Imitation


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    This is a great question. They have been in use since at least 1940 (Photo of John Grimek pressing while wearing a belt (this is a great article, by John Fair)). His belt appears to be the tapered kind, with the back slightly wider than the front.

    It might help to review the official rules of the lifts, as they would state whether the use of a belt were allowed or not.

    Some photos of vaudeville strongmen (~1890s through ~1930s) show some use of belts, but it is hard to tell if the belts are for support or ornamentation.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daverin View Post
    I mean, it seems weird they'd ever bother with the back width
    Why weird?

  6. #6
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    The turn-of-the-century lifters from germany and austria-hungary were notorious for using belts (and ugly technique). Before modern (olympic) weightlifting became popular in the 1920s you were allowed 2 or 3 stops to get the weight to your shoulders. Belts helped a lot because you could rest the weight on your belt. The term "continental clean" dates back to this period and the lifters of that era could move a ton of weight in the "clean" and press/jerk. Guys like Grafl, Swoboda and Tandler could jerk in the high 300s and press in the low 300s in the 1900-1910s.

    Big guys all of them:
    Josef Grafl weighed over 240lbs, pressed 143kg and jerked 175kg:


    Karl Swoboda was even heavier and jerked 185kg in 1911(not in picture!):

    Here he is next to the 21 year old Hermann Goerner



    The anti-teutonic feelings were very strong after WW1 and the rules of modern weightlifting reflected that(germany was not allowed to compete at the olympics). The clean and the strict military-style press became popular for that reason. But sturdy belts have been used by stone masons and lumberjacks before and after they became popular for lifting. My great-grandfather was a lumberjack in the alps and my grandmother has a lot of his old gear. Heavy duty leather belts and harnesses (for both men and horse) were important equipment before mechanization became more common.
    Last edited by weakKraut; 05-26-2016 at 10:11 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meshuggah View Post
    (Bob's Belts) - Everything Else Is A Cheap Imitation
    Eh. I had a Best Belt (got stolen) and a Bob's Belt; both black, 13mm thick, 4" wide, single prong. Both very good belts, but the only difference I can tell is the stitching pattern. I like them both, but I wouldn't say one is better than the other, so far as I could tell. Maybe I'm just not discerning enough regarding belt quality.

    I currently use my Inzer for the most part, but that's just because I prefer the lever style, due to ease of use and how it fits.

  8. #8
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    Wasn't it pretty common in earlier times to tightly wrap a wide cloth around the waist to help with lifting? I feel like I've seen this in portrayals of voyageurs, workers in the middle east, etc. I imagine the support would be similar to a modern padded oly style belt.

  9. #9
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    My googling finds this from a 1882 treatise on hernia, talking about things that compress the abdomen:
    Under this head may be in-
    cluded the tight lacing of corsets, the wearing of tight pantaloons
    or a strap around the waist, as is the custom among many laborers

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Herbison View Post
    Eh. I had a Best Belt (got stolen) and a Bob's Belt; both black, 13mm thick, 4" wide, single prong. Both very good belts, but the only difference I can tell is the stitching pattern. I like them both, but I wouldn't say one is better than the other, so far as I could tell. Maybe I'm just not discerning enough regarding belt quality.

    I currently use my Inzer for the most part, but that's just because I prefer the lever style, due to ease of use and how it fits.
    I actually had one of those, I sent it back because of problems with the Lever.

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