Stroll into the free weights lifting area of any gym and you’re almost sure to see a wrist strap. These are generally black and dangling from the end of a lifter’s wrist!
A lifting strap is a single piece of fabric or leather that wraps over your wrist and the bar. The main role of this lifting accessory is to help you move heavy weights more easily and without the limiting factor of your grip failing.
Bodybuilders swear by wrist straps when it comes to increasing their strength of pulling exercises. Is this true for all gym goers and recreational lifters?
Let’s take a look of if and when you should use wrist straps when deadlifting, the pros and the cons.
Should You Wear Wrist Straps?
Wrist wraps serve as a really useful lifting accessory. This is particularly true for people with a weak grip that limits their lifting potential. Investing in wrist straps is an excellent idea to sure up your grip and take this element out of the lift. It helps to give more confidence when lifting bigger weights.
For example, when you’re deadlifting, you want to be training your big muscle groups rather than your grip, which is usually secondary. The same applies for other back and pull exercises, such as bentover rows and pulldowns. By strengthening your grip with wrist straps, you can focus on the muscles you want to make bigger and stronger!
Wrist wraps are generally not necessary for very novice lifters if the big weight numbers aren’t there yet.
However, if you feel your grip going on pull exercises and deadlifts before your muscles fail, you should almost certainly consider them. You should also try out weightlifting chalk which is very effective.
Wrist Strap Pros
There are plenty of benefits when using wrist straps.
- Improve your grip
- Simple to use (once you get the hang of it)
- Allow you to lift heavier and push yourself to the maximum
- Great for deadlifting, barbell rows and most pull exercises.
- Low cost
- A single pair can last for years
- Lightweight and don’t take up much room in the gym bag
Wrist Strap Cons
There are only a few cons when it comes to using lifting straps and that mainly revolves around using them too often and for every lift.
If you use wrist straps too frequently, you’re grip strength may not improve at the same rate as strength in your primary muscles. This imbalance may mean that you start to rely on wrist straps, which isn’t where you want to be at.
To avoid this, make sure you train your natural grip as well by lifting without wrist straps. One of my favourite exercises for better grip strength is the farmer’s walks. Pick up two weights in each hand and walk up and down. Simple and very effective.
Most wrist straps are now fabric. This is because leather wrist straps don’t absorb sweat as effectively, which means the quality may deteriorate more quickly.
Lifting Straps vs Wrist Wraps: Are They The Same Thing?
This can be a little confusing, so let’s clear it up.
- Straps – Lifting straps and wrist straps are the same thing. They are a single strip of material that don’t provide any support for your wrists. The confusing part is that straps wrap around your wrist and the bar.
- Wraps – Wrist wraps are not the same as wrist straps. Wraps are generally more bulky and cover the whole lower arm area to provide support and stop any twisting. Picture the type of thing people where when they are aiding a broken wrist
Keep This In Mind While Using Wrist Straps
Always make sure you tighten the strap properly around the bar. Doing this will mean you keep your hands tight on the barbell.
One of the most typical mistakes is leaving the strap loose, which does not provide the necessary support and grip. Failure to do so may increase your risk of injury, particularly to your back if the weight is much heavier than expected or slips suddenly.
How to Secure Your Wrist Straps In 7 Simple Steps
There isn’t much to it when putting wrist straps on, although it definitely takes a bit of practice to get used to it (especially for the second hand!)
Here are 7 simple steps to follow to put on and use your lifting straps:
- As if trying to make a circle, thread one end of the lengthy strap through the loop opening.
- Slip down the loop over and onto your wrist by opening your hands (I do this with my palms facing downwards).
- Check that the ends of each strap are pointing in the same direction as your thumbs toward the centre of your body.
- Grip the bar or handle as you would normally.
- Wrap the dangling strap under the bar first then over. Do this a couple of times then place your hand over the straps.
- Do this again with the other hand. You’ll need a bit of practice as you’ll only have one hand to wrap the straps around.
- Once both are secure, twist the straps on the bar towards you to tighten.
Different Types of Lifting Straps
Wrist Straps come in three types: loop, speed/Olympic, and hook straps.
- Loop Strap
They’re the most common type, with various lengths and materials, including fabric and leather. The loop construction ensures a snug fit across your wrists.
- Olympic Strap
The circular shape of the olympic strap makes it convenient and easy to fasten to the barbell. As it’s more straightforward to bail out of a botched lift, they’re the best option for Olympic weightlifting.
- Hook Strap
A standard bar fits snugly in the hook straps. However, you can’t hold the bar securely in your palms, which might interfer with your form during some exercises.
Wrap Up On Wrist Straps For Deadlifts
Your technique plays the most crucial role in your lifts. Your arms assist you in setting your back muscles and protecting your spine during deadlifts. Squeezing the bar tightly during pull-ups helps you generate additional strength in your arms and back.
Is this to say that you should never wear straps for these movements? No, not always. Instead, bear the following guidelines in mind:
- Don’t use straps for everything all of the time.
- If you perform a lot of strap training, do specialized forearm training to maintain and improve your grip.
- Don’t feel obligated to strap up only to reach a specific weight.
If that’s your thing, it’s acceptable to let your grip influence how much you lift. You can still grow stronger without using straps!
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