Weightlifting straps straps are used by weightlifters to help them lift heavier weights. Lifting straps help your grip strength, so the bar won’t slip out of your grasp when lifting a heavy weight. This is ideal for lifts such as the deadlift, weighted pull ups and shrugs – any lift where superior grip strength is important. Read on to learn how to choose the right weightlifting straps, when to avoid using lifting straps and how to put them on properly and use lifting straps effectively.
Why Use Lifting Straps?
Lifts that are helped by weightlifting straps include the deadlift, shrugs, rows and weighted pull-ups. The weightlifting straps help you hold onto the bar long enough to complete your exercise at a heavier weight than would have been possible without the straps.
Using weightlifting straps for certain exercises will help you to increase muscle size and strength in your back, trapezius and hamstrings. This is because you will be able to lift heavier weights than your usual grip would normally allow.
When to Avoid Lifting Straps
While some exercises can be helped by using weightlifting straps, it is not a good idea to use straps for every lift. You should avoid using lifting straps for regular lifts and only use them when focusing on your heaviest lifts.
It is important to note that weightlifting straps are not allowed in powerlifting competitions. So if you are training specifically for powerlifting events, don’t use straps all the time during training, as you need to develop your own natural grip strength.
If this is the case, always perform some lifts without lifting straps, even if it means you have to reduce the weight load.
Remember, weightlifting straps are only useful for lifts where you are working against gravity. So there is no point using them when performing the bench press, for example.
How to Choose the Right Lifting Straps
Once you have decided if you need to use weightlifting straps at all, you need to learn how to choose the right ones. Lifting straps come in a variety of materials. They can be made from cotton, nylon or leather.
The type of weightlifting straps you choose depends on the which advantages you are looking for.
Leather straps are soft and have lots of give, which makes them great for lifts with lots of movement, such as the clean and jerk. However, leather is so pliable that it can be pushed out of shape. For a firmer lifting strap, choose cotton or nylon straps, which allow you to release the dumbbell quickly.
Olympic straps, also called speed straps, are shorter than other types of weightlifting straps. This makes them easier to release the barbell quickly, in a similar way to nylon straps. However, shorter straps don’t give as firm a grip.
It is possible to buy padded lifting straps and weightlifting straps with hook-and-loop fasteners. Sometimes, you can get weightlifting gloves with straps built into the glove, so you don’t need additional weightlifting straps.
If you always wear lifting straps, built-in glove straps can be a convenient choice, although they are more expensive. Be aware of gloves with hooks, as they might not fit all barbells and can inhibit your technique during some lifts.
Some weightlifting straps are loop straps, which means you need to thread the ends of the straps through the loops to form a circle. Other lifting straps are ready to put on straight away.
To put on lifting straps, slide your hands through the circles or use the hook and loop fasteners to attach them. Adjust the straps until they fit snugly around your wrist.
Wrap the loose ends around the barbell, moving the strap under the bar and wrapping around from back to front. Some lifters like to use a figure of eight configuration to provide extra tightness, but others think this is uncomfortable.
Place your hands over the straps to grip the bar. Your own grip will hold the straps in place wrapped around the bar. When you release the weight, the straps should unravel and slide off the barbell easily.
To lift, roll the bar towards you to tighten the strap against your wrists. Only lift when the straps are fully tightened so you get the full benefit from their help.
When you lift, the weightlifting straps should only assist your grip, not take the full weight. Make sure you use a strong grip as well and don’t rely wholly on the straps as you could injure your wrists otherwise.
How to Strengthen Your Natural Grip
Although weightlifting straps can be a great help, it’s a good idea to work on your own grip strength and not leave it all to the straps. This is especially important if you intend to powerlift, where lifting straps are not allowed.
These exercises should help to strengthen your grip so you are not as reliant on the weightlifting straps to help you lift.
Share your thoughts on weightlifting straps
Do you use lifting straps?
Which types of lifting strap do you like the best?
How do you wear your lifting straps? Do you use different wrapping styles for different benefits?
What are your tips for improving natural grip strength?