The Best Lifting Straps Based on Your Workout Style

How to Use Lifting Straps the Right Way

Many beneficial gym accessories are available to help build muscle, burn fat, and improve mobility. For most avid weight lifters – from bodybuilders to Olympic lifters and everyone in between – the need for equipment that helps to reduce muscle fatigue, minimize risk for injury, and improve lifting mechanics is a necessity! 

Wrist straps are a simple and effective piece of equipment in your gym bag that is accessible for weight lifters of all sizes and levels of experience. As a way to address a weak point in your barbell training or to help you break through a strength plateau, a pair of lifting straps is sure to do the trick. 

Follow along to find out the benefits of lifting straps, when to use them, and most importantly, how to use them properly.

What are Lifting Straps and Why are They Important?

Lifting straps are a weightlifting accessory that is used to wrap your wrists to a barbell for extra support while lifting heavy weights. Made of either cotton, nylon, or leather, lifting straps are a fundamental accessory to protect the weightlifter's wrists during high-load exercises – especially pulling exercises that target the mid-to-upper back and arm muscle groups (i.e. lat pull-downs, weighted pull-ups, deadlifts, etc.) [1]. 

Lifting straps help you by: 

  • Minimizing grip fatigue – When worn correctly, lifting straps keep your hands wrapped around the bar to help you lift more weight for a greater number of sets without straining your wrists

  • Providing wrist support – Many types of durable wrist straps are capable of minimizing your risk of injury by keeping your wrists properly aligned with the bar. Not only does the added support help prevent discomfort, but it also contributes to greater wrist strength over time

  • Allowing you to reach full lifting potential – Weightlifting straps help you focus more on activating major muscle groups during a lift to maximize your strength training gains (i.e. building muscle size) without any wrist pain

Are Lifting Straps the Same as Wrist Straps?

Lifting straps are commonly mistaken for wrist straps, also known as “wrist wraps”. Unlike lifting straps, wrist straps are meant to wrap around the wrists to provide extra padding for greater wrist compression and support while exercising with heavier weights. 

Typically made with neoprene padding, wrist straps are prevalent in the powerlifting community to assist with strength training exercises that involve pushing such as a bench press, shoulder press, clean and jerk, and so on [2].

The Best Types of Weightlifting Straps 

Lifting straps are available in a wide range of styles and materials. For most weightlifters, their favorite lifting strap is more of a personal preference than anything else. 

Some of the most common styles include the closed-loop, figure-eight, and lasso lifting straps. Olympic lifts generally require closed-loop lifting straps to allow for the quickest release of the bar with some grip assistance whereas powerlifters tend to opt for figure-eight or the lasso strap to help them confidently lift heavier weight. 

As for the material, the best lifting straps depend on the amount of weight that’s actually being lifted. The three most common materials include padded cotton, nylon, and leather. Let’s take a closer look at each of these. 

1. Padded Cotton Lifting Straps 

Padded cotton lifting straps are an excellent option for beginner lifters. Although most brands use heavy-duty cotton material, they’re not as durable for heavy lifting. These weightlifting straps are a low-cost option that is great for absorbing sweat and providing wrist support for an extended length of time.

2. Nylon Lifting Straps 

Nylon lifting straps are another option that tends to be the most suitable for advanced lifters. These durable lifting straps are thicker and less flexible, meaning that they are more resistant to long-term wear and tear. Compared to cotton, nylon straps are slightly more expensive but offer more support for heavier lifts.

Most Olympic lifting straps are made of nylon to help ensure these athletes are able to target more muscle groups throughout a range of exercises without experiencing wrist fatigue. 

3. Leather Lifting Straps 

Leather straps are some of the most durable lifting straps available. Typically thicker than nylon straps, the leather material takes more time to break in for optimal performance. Unlike cotton, leather straps are made with softer material that is the least sweat resistant. Although not ideal for everyone, leather straps offer a secure fit for most types of heavy weight lifting including power lifts and Olympic lifts.

When to Use Lifting Straps 

Lifting straps are not a necessity for all strength training exercises. Generally speaking, weightlifting straps are most beneficial for support when performing heavy pulling exercises using a barbell. 

Examples include: 

  • Lat pull-downs 

  • Pull-ups and chin-ups 

  • Deadlifts 

  • Snatches 

  • Barbell rows

  • Shrugs

  • Rack pulls 

For the purpose of executing quality lifting mechanics, it’s usually recommended to wait until you reach at least 3 months of consistent lifting to allow your grip strength to develop before adding lifting straps. After this time frame, you’ll be able to safely lift heavy without relying solely on the straps. 

How to Use Lifting Straps

Now that you’ve got the proper equipment to perform heavy lifts, it’s time to learn how to use lifting straps the right way to help elevate your next workout.  

Step 1: Fasten the straps around your wrists 

Start by threading the ends of the straps through the small opening from the inside towards the outside forming a wrist loop. Skip this step if you’re using either a hook-and-loop or Olympic strap.

Next, slide your hands through the openings (or attach the straps with the hook-and-loop fasteners) so the end of each strap hangs down between your thumb and index finger. Pull on the loose ends of the straps until it fits snugly around your wrists.

Step 2: Wrap the ends of the strap around the barbell 

Begin by grabbing hold of the bar, allowing the long end of the strap to hang down behind the bar. Wrap the strap under the barbell then loop it from bottom to top from behind. As you wrap the strap up over the bar, press the palm of your hand over the strap and the bar to secure it into place. 

Whether or not you choose to use the figure-eight configuration to achieve an extra firm grip on the barbell, any supportive pair of lifting straps will still do the job well. 

Step 3: Secure your hands over the straps

Next, close your palm and fingers directly over the straps to hold the lifting strap into place around the barbell. If you feel like this grip is still slightly uncomfortable, re-wrap your lifting straps tighter for extra support or looser for less friction if necessary. 

Step 4: Roll the bar towards your body 

It’s important to avoid lifting the bar before the straps are tight to your wrists. Secure lifting straps by rolling the barbell towards your body until the straps pull slightly on your wrists. Once this is done, you’ll be able to lift heavy weights without risking injury.

Step 5: Lift the weight with proper form  

Now you’re ready to lift the weight. Allow your wrists to assist you through the lift while continuing to maintain a tight grip on the bar.

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