Eleiko Weightlifting Belt
Eleiko are best known for their bars and plates, a staple and a standard for quality in gyms all over the world. However, the Sweidsh company also produce a small range of accessories including wrist wraps and belts for discerning lifter. A good quality leather belt is an essential item in the gym bag of all but the most inexperienced lifters and Eleiko’s effort harks back to one of the most popular designs ever to grace the platform at Olympic games and world championships. Though many weightlifters at all levels of the sport now prefer low-profile velcro belts, quite a number of lifters opt for the reassurance and durability that only leather can provide.
Introducing the Eleiko Weightlifting Belt
The Eleiko weightlifting belt is a fairly minimalist affair and is reputedly modeled on the utilitarian Soviet designs of the 1970s and 80s, as made famous by the likes of Vasily Alexeev. The belt is made from quite soft, supple leather and is tapered, running from 10cm at the back to 5cm at the front. This tapered fit is something of a standard design for Olympic weightlifting belts as it offers full support for the back and an adequate surface for the abdominal muscles to push against, without restricting the movement of the hips with a excess of leather.
Weightlifting belt designs | Image from chidlovski.net
The Eleiko belt comes, at the present time, in one colour and one colour only – white. Again, this apes the classic belt worn by many Soviet lifters, although white belts are something of a rarity in the gym these days. The thicker back pad is branded with a large blue Eleiko logo, which looks quite striking against the white background. Contrary to my expectations, the white leather doesn’t seem to pick up much in the way of dirt or marks and after a couple of weeks of active use and kicking around my gym back, it looks as clean as when I got it. The metal two-prong buckle is strong and durable and is backed by an extended piece of leather with ensures a good all-round fit and stops clothing getting trapped in the fittings.
Sizing and Fit
I bought the Eleiko weightlifting belt in size Medium and, to be honest, took something of a chance on sizing. I’m at the upper end of the waist measurement range for that size (72cm-89cm) but wasn’t able to find a Large belt for love nor money in Europe or North America. I wear 32 or 34 inch waist trousers and found that the Eleiko belt fit me on the second or third last hole. If you’re any larger than me, I’d definitely recommend sizing up if you have the option. Indeed, Eleiko’s US site recommends sizing up when buying as the belts run a bit small. As it is, I’m seeing this belt as yet another incentive to lift as an 85 (I’m currently around 90kg) rather than being tempted to bulk to something heavier and having to buy another belt.
When the belt is on though, it’s an excellent fit. Holes are spaced about 3.5cm apart centre to centre, which seems to offer enough versatility to get a nice tight fit without being too restrictive. The thicker part at the rear of the belt is lightly padded and even when pulled as tight as it will go, the belt doesn’t feel uncomfortable, inhibit movement or leave marks on the skin. At the same time though, it’s extremely supportive and offers up a lot more resistance than its slim, tapered profile suggests.
Lifting With The Eleiko Weightlifting Belt
Vasily Alexeev in his prime
Like most lifters, of the two competition lifts I only use a belt on the Clean & Jerk. In the past, I’ve struggled to find a belt that I liked: a no-name tapered leather belt from eBay felt too stiff and restrictive, while a Valeo velcro belt didn’t seem to offer much in the way of support and seemed to be in perpetual danger of popping off mid-lift. From first wear, the Eleiko belt felt extremely comfortable. I was surprised to find that the belt wasn’t stiff or hard out of the packaging and almost felt as though it had already been broken in as soon as I put it on.
Obviously wearing the belt didn’t put kilos on my lifts that weren’t there before but I did find that I felt more confident in the support of the belt, which encouraged me to commit more to both cleans and jerks at heavy weights. Certainly compared with other belts I’ve used, the Eleiko one felt much better suited specifically to Olympic weightlifting through a combination of shape, fit and materials. I also used the belt for heavy front squats and found that it offered just the right balance between support and mobility. I have a much more heavy duty Inzer Forever lever belt that I use for near max back squats and expect that I will continue to do so in future, although the Eleiko belt will be a nice second option on days that I don’t fancy dragging the much heavier belt to the gym.
As I’m sure you can tell, I’m extremely pleased with my Eleiko belt but there are a couple of areas where it hasn’t quite lived up to my expectations. For one, the stitching on the strap isn’t quite as heavy duty as I would like. Although there’s a double row of stitching, a couple of stitches on outside row started to unfurl just a couple of weeks after buying the belt. It’s not as if the belt is about to start falling apart, or anything even close, but my expectations around build quality were maybe just a little too high.
Something else I noticed was how quickly the leather on the strap (the opposite side to the buckle) began to look beaten up and worn in – after a few sessions, there seemed to be a succession of fine lines or scoring running perpendicular to the length of the belt. Again, no major concerns about longterm durability but it was a surprise. Part of me wonders if this is just a side effect of the belt feeling like it arrived already broken in , or a combination of the relatively supple leather and the fact that I am wearing it on one of the tighter fittings, meaning that the strap is getting bent back and forth quite a bit.
All in all, the Eleiko weightlifting leather belt is an excellent all round belt for the Olympic lifts and comes highly recommended. It’s fair to say that its design is basic and utilitarian but it’s also one honed to near-perfection over the years by some of the best weightlifters and coaches the world has ever seen. The materials are well chosen to provide a good balance between support and comfort and even minor design features seem like careful additions specifically for the Olympic weightlifter. Though I wasn’t entirely happy with the build quality of mine, I’m still confident that I’ll be using it for many years to come and look forward to taking it into competition in the coming weeks.