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How to Use Weight Lifting Straps

by nick

There’s a divided opinion among people in the weight lifting world around the subject of weight lifting straps.

Should they be used on all exercises or just on a select few? Should they be used every set or just during certain sets? Should you use them in the first place or avoided altogether?

Such questions arise due to people having various opinions about weight lifting straps and there usage. The most common being:

Never use weight lifting straps. They prevent you from enhancing your grip strength and stop you building muscle in your forearms, wrists and hands.

Use weight lifting straps when needed. Common sense.

Unsurprisingly it’s the first opinion that tends to be the most popular. I’ll now discuss why it’s wrong.

What Are Weight Lifting Straps?

If you’re not familiar with weight lifting straps, I’ll quickly explain what they are and why people use them. Basically they are used to help you hold the weight in your hand. You loop one end around your wrists, and wrap the other end around the barbell or dumbbell, therefore attaching the weight to your wrist and hands.

Using weight lifting straps dramatically improve your grip on the weight you’re holding and helps stopping it from slipping out of your hand. This happens due to a number of reasons: lack of grip strength, the weight is too heavy, sweating, having smaller hands, or just overall grip fatigue as you near the end of your set.

People use weight lifting straps to prevent the above from happening. But the argument is over whether you should actually use them in the first place.

A lot of people like to think that weight lifting straps should never be used under any circumstance.  Typically it’s these people that are clueless and probably say it to sound cool despite how wrong it is.

If your grip is giving out before the target muscle(s) you’re training, that’s a problem. If the weight is slipping out of your hand before finishing an exercise that you’re otherwise capable of using, that’s a problem. And guess what? Straps are the quickest and easiest solution to these problems. They can help during any exercise but are particularly useful when performing deadlift, rows, pull-ups and shrug exercises.

So what’s the argument? People believe that using straps doesn’t fix the problem, it just covers it up. Meaning you’re not improving your ability to grip, you’re just using something to help you hold the weight. And this apparently means that straps are just preventing your grip strength from improving. They allow you to cheat and miss out of training your wrists, forearms, hands and your overall grip.

But who cares?

I’m not doing dumbbell rows to improve my grip. I’m not doing shrugs because I want to improve my ability to hold a heavy weight. I’m not doing pull-ups to train my forearms. I’m doing these exercises to train the specific muscles that these exercises target. If I want to train my grip, I’ll do it separately.

When Should Weight Lifting Straps Be Used?

Now that you understand why straps can and often be used, you will probably want to know when exactly that is. Every set? Every Exercise?

The answer is: Only use them when you actually need them.

If you don’t have any grip issues on certain exercises, don’t use straps for that exercise. But if you do, then use them. If you only have grip issues on certain sets of that exercise, then only use them during those sets, not the others. Simple!

Using Weight Lifting Straps

Here’s how to use straps:

1)      Thread the ends of the straps through the loops to form circles.

2)      Slide your hands through the circles or attach the straps with the hook-and-loop fasteners so the ends of the straps hang down along your fingers.

3)      Wrap the ends of the strap around the bar (or bars) holding the weight.

4)      Place your hands over the straps to hold them in place.

5)      Roll the bar toward you until the straps are tight and pull on your wrists.

6)      You’re now ready to start lifting.

If you’re still unsure on how to use weight lifting straps, I found this video on YouTube that’ll help you understand how to do it.

Lastly, only use straps when you’re working against gravity or where the resistance is pulling away from you. So if you see someone using straps while bench pressing, feel free to point and laugh at them. Using straps during a pressing exercise does nothing other than make you look stupid.

So, if your performance is being hindered during an exercise because the weight is sliding out of your hand, use weight lifting straps. If it’s not, then don’t use them.

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