What are Weight Lifting Straps?
Weightlifting straps are used for two purposes: 1) To prevent injury during your training sessions; 2) For safety while performing exercises such as bench press or deadlift.
The most common reason why people use them is to protect their hands from getting injured while doing exercises like the ones mentioned above. But there are other reasons too, which include:
• Preventing injuries due to overuse.
• Improving grip strength.
• Increasing the range of motion of certain movements.
Why Should You Use Weight Lifting Straps?
There are many benefits associated with using weight lifting straps. Here are some of them:
1) Protect Your Hands From Getting Injured During Training Sessions
It is very difficult to train without injuring yourself. If you want to improve your performance, it’s necessary that you avoid unnecessary risk. The main reason behind this is the fact that your body is not built for endless endurance activities. Therefore, if you have been spending hours in a stationary bike position, then chances are that your wrists will get tired after just one session of heavy weights.
This can lead to all sorts of problems in the future.
So if you’re serious about your training, then you should go for weight lifting straps. You don’t have to worry about hand injuries ever again. If you want, you can also try lifting straps which will protect your entire hand from getting injured. These specific types of straps are very easy to find as they are used by a lot of people.
2) Increase Your Grip Strength
In the world of weight lifting, proper grip strength is very important. If you want to improve your wrist and hand health in general, then you should go for lifting straps. This is because this type of strap will increase your grip strength. Since it is wider than normal cloth straps, you will have an easier time holding the barbell.
This results in better wrist support when performing exercises that put a lot of pressure on the wrist.
With regular use, your hand will get used to the weight of the barbell. As a result, you will be able to hold heavier and heavier weights without the risk of injury. And building grip strength will also make your forearms bigger and stronger as well. So in a way, you’re hitting two birds with one stone.
This is why you should go for lifting straps.
3) Increase The Range Of Motion Of Certain Movements
If you are a bodybuilder, then you might be familiar with this problem. Certain movements might just not feel right when doing them. While it’s OK if you’re only focused on the targeted muscle group, it can become an ongoing problem if you aren’t able to fully move your arm no matter what exercise you’re doing.
This is why you should use straps. Since it gives you a more stable grip, it allows you to move your arms in any direction without having to worry about dropping the weight on yourself. This wide range of movement will also help you improve the flexibility of your joints and muscles, something that will definitely come in handy if you are into martial arts or any other combat sport.
4) Use Lifting Straps To Grip The Bar And Build Weak Hands
The basic premise of weight lifting straps is to hold your wrist in a stronger grip. This means that your hands will get used to the weight over time. Many people use this method as a way to build up their grip strength. By using the straps, you are able to hold on to heavier and heavier weights without the risk of getting injured.
Since this style of lifting strap is very easy to find (even Walmart sells them nowadays) they are extremely affordable as well. If you’re on a tight budget, then you should definitely go for this type of strap. This is especially true if you don’t want to fully commit yourself to weight lifting just yet. It’s also a great way of gauging how your body reacts to different types of exercise.
Using straps is OK and there’s nothing wrong with doing so. As long as you keep progressing and moving forward, then everything should work out fine for you. Remember, the main purpose of using hand wraps is to prevent wrist and hand injuries. This is why straps are so popular with people who are just starting out.
Most people like to use lifting straps because it allows them to grip heavier weights than they normally could grip without straps.
However, this should be treated as a short term solution to a long-term problem. The main problem with using lifting straps is that they train your hands and wrists in a certain way. Over time, your grip will strengthen because you will be used to gripping the barbell with extra pressure. However, your regular joints and muscles won’t improve at all because you’re not really working them.
Let’s take climbing for an example. You might be able to climb a tree with your bare hands because your hands are really strong. However, you will never be able to run up a tree because your feet can’t get a strong enough grip on the bark.
Personally, this is why I don’t recommend using lifting straps as much. The best way to train your hands and wrists is to use them in different ways. You should try playing catch with a football or something similar. The more you play, the stronger your hands will get.
As an added benefit, the rest of your body will also get a workout.
Another thing you can do is to try rock climbing. The surface under your feet will always be moving so you will need to have a strong grip at all times. This is a great way to improve your reflexes as well because you need to constantly move without thinking about it.
5) Wear Spots As A Way Of Reducing Pain And Inflammation
This is more of a personal reason for using lifting straps. If you’re using them to reduce the pain that you feel in your hands, then this method is probably the best way to go about it. The problem with hand and wrist pain is that it can be extremely distracting. If you’re not focused then you could get seriously hurt.
Wearing spots can help to alleviate some of that pain that you might feel in your joints. It won’t eliminate the pain completely but it should keep you in a good frame of mind to keep going.
Wearing spots also helps to prevent the formation of calluses. We’ve already discussed how calluses can become thick and hard, hindering your ability to do certain types of grip work. By preventing calluses from forming in the first place, then you’ll be able to do more types of grip work without having to worry about your hands getting thicker.
Of course, if you go this route then you will eventually have to ask yourself a very important question:
Which is more important? Your grip or your pain?
Everyone is different so you’ll have to make that decision for yourself.
In some cases, wearing spots can actually be worse for your joints in the long-term. If you’re constantly dampening the pain that you feel in your hands and wrists, then your brain won’t have any reason to “force” your body to adapt in order to handle the pain. Without this stress, your joints will remain weak and flexible. In other words, you won’t get stronger.
Personally, I’ve found a happy medium. I wear spots when I do my heavy lifting and I don’t wear spots when I’m doing specialized grip work such as fingertip pushups, one arm pullups, etc.
I also don’t wear spots when I’m climbing because it is stressful enough on my hands. If I need to train pain endurance, I will climb with chalk. This way, I get the best of both worlds. My hands are protected when I’m wearing the spots and I’m able to feel a greater degree of pain when I’m not wearing them at all.
I hope that you’ve found this information helpful and as always, please feel free to ask me any questions you may have regarding grip training.
P.S. In the coming months, I will be making a downloadable eBook that will contain all of the information in this post along with more. Stay tuned!
A Note For Those With Little To No Grip Strength
If you’re like most people, then you probably don’t have much grip strength right now. This can be for a variety of reasons such as:
You’ve never done any serious grip work before.
You’ve done some grip work in the past, but you didn’t follow a solid program.
You’ve done some grip work in the past but it’s been quite awhile since you last did it.
Whatever the reason, if you’re reading this then you’re probably in the same position I once was in: You have little to no grip strength and you want to get serious about building it.
If this is you, then I’ve given you some guidelines above, but I’d like to give you a more detailed approach to your first month of training.
First of all, you need to decide how you’re going to train. Are you going to:
A) Train at home with equipment that you already have.
B) Buy some grip equipment and train at a commercial gym.
If you choose option “A” then you probably already have some sort of barbell set up in your home. If this is the case, then I’d start out by doing just what I described in the above guidelines.
That is, do your deadlifts and pull-ups (If you don’t have access to a lat pulldown machine at your gym) throughout the week. Just like I described above, do three sets of five repetitions. Also, you can do the barbell rows just like they’re explained in the guidelines, however, you’ll need to choose a different grip than the semi-supinated grip that I talked about. Instead, use a double overhand grip.
If you don’t have access to a gym or a barbell set, then you can still do the same exercises that I’ve mentioned using inexpensive solutions such as:
Dumbbell Rows – Using two sets of dumbbells of equal weight, choose a grip that allows you to pull the weight straight to your lower chest (the lower chest is usually your weakest position in a rowing motion).
Sources & references used in this article:
Kinematics and kinetics of multiple sets using lifting straps during deadlift training by VS Coswig, DFM Freitas, P Gentil… – The Journal of …, 2015 – journals.lww.com
Wrist strap apparatus for use in weight training by M Saavedra – US Patent 6,168,556, 2001 – Google Patents
Exercise strap device by JM Sheeler – US Patent 5,518,486, 1996 – Google Patents
Weight lifting device and method of exercising by FC Hatfield – US Patent 4,372,553, 1983 – Google Patents
The effect of lifting straps on peak velocity, force, and power during clean pull by N Hori, B Appleby, W Andrews, K Nosaka – 2010 – ro.ecu.edu.au
Safety frame for weight lifting by WJ Galler – US Patent 4,018,442, 1977 – Google Patents
Weight lifting shoes by TJ Zeek – US Patent App. 12/583,854, 2010 – Google Patents
Weight supporting body harness by EM Price, AR Price – US Patent 5,588,940, 1996 – Google Patents