lifting straps benefits

A-Z About Lifting Straps: Usage, Benefits, and FAQ

Introduction:

Your grip plays an important role in your lifting capabilities. You won’t be able to lift a heavyweight if you are unable to grip it properly. 

With lifting straps, never let your grip strength limit you from achieving new Deadlift PR. 

Lifting straps are a time-tested lifting gear that has helped many to burst through a new max in Deadlift. 

Ahead in this article, we are going to answer every question about the lifting straps. If you have a particular question about the lifting strap then feel free to find the topic through our Table Of Content and jump directly to the topic. 

Don’t get yourself confused between a wrist wrap and a lifting strap. While the wrist wraps are used to support & protect the wrist while training, lifting straps are used to lift heavy while pulling movements. 


What Are Lifting Straps Used For? 

Lifting straps are a simple piece of equipment that is approximately 1″ to 1-1/2″ wide, 12″ to 18″ long. These straps are commonly made of Canvas, leather, or nylon.  

A lifting strap is designed to wrap your wrist with a long piece of a strap that you need to loop around the barbell or dumbbell. Personally, I prefer thin leather straps, they allow a natural feel and added elasticity.  

Lifting straps are primarily used to improve the pulling capability by eliminating the role of grip. But why do we want to eliminate the grip? 

Your shoulders, traps, lats, glutes, hamstrings are stronger than your forearm and grip. But barehand deadlift allows you to lift a weight that your grip is capable of, which means you are not training those big muscles to their full potential. 

When you eliminate the role of grip strength then you make yourself available to all new dimensions of weight lifting. 

Incorporating lifting straps in your pull workout routine will help you train those big muscle groups more efficiently without being concerned about the limiting grip strength.  

Lifting straps won’t allow your grip to fail before the target muscle which allows greater hypertrophy and strength. These straps are being majorly used for heavy-duty liftings like deadlifts, barbell rows, lat pulldowns, pullups, shrugs, and farmer’s walks. 

There is a saying, you are just as strong as your grip strength. Lifting straps are developed to provide better control over barbells while lifting heavy. 


Types Of Lifting Straps:

Selecting the best lifting strap for your need can be quite difficult, they are available in different shapes. 

Broadly categorizing, lifting straps are available in three major types: 

  • Closed-loop
  • Lasso strap
  • Figure 8

Closed-loop: Among all three closed-loop lifting straps will provide the least grip assistance. It is widely preferred by lifters who like little external assistance. Additionally, closed-loop straps are also used by athletes who train Olympic lifts, great for snatches and pulls. 

Lasso strap: these straps provide better assistance than closed-loop straps but lesser support than Figure-8 straps. 

I find lasso straps to be a quite versatile solution and works really great for the purpose of bodybuilding.  

Figure-8: This is extensively used by athletes training for Strongman who tries to move monstrous weight off the ground.  

Figure-8 straps are designed to totally eliminate the role of grip and once it’s properly anchored to the barbell then you won’t be able to ditch the lift in the middle. 


Benefits Of Lifting Straps

How the heck this simple piece of the strap can assist in lifting heavier weights, let’s find out. 

1- Monstrous Strength: 

Gaining the ability to lift heavier weight is definitely one of the best benefits of lifting straps.

Sometimes our shoulders, erector spinae, glutes, and hammies are finding it easy to lift heavyweight but grip strength doesn’t cooperate. 

Barbell sliding through the hands while lifting seems like a common issue with many lifters that happens due to insufficient grip strength or sweating. 

Lifting straps relieve pressure from your grip and allows the bigger muscle groups to do the work which results in the ability to move heavier weights. 

Elite lifters usually use Figure-8 lifting straps at the deadlift competitions to gain maximum benefit. Check out the video of Hafthor Bjornson a.k.a ‘The Mountain’ deadlifts 501Kg with Figure-8 straps. 

2- Muscle Isolation:

Are you aware of the fact that squeezing the barbell hard will help you lift the heavier weight? Gripping the barbell hard stimulates the neurological stabilizers to engage more muscle fibers to help to lift heavier weight. 

Engaging more stabilizer muscles is good for compound strength, but BAD for isolation work.

Using lifting straps while the pull movements can help you reduce the involvement of stabilizer muscles and allows better muscle contraction at the target area. 

Doing Lat pulldowns, Single-arm rows, Seal rows with straps can help in isolating back muscles instead of pulling weight with biceps. 

3- Calluses:

Calluses and blisters can be annoying and sometimes painful as well. 

Using lifting straps can help in reducing the formation of calluses. 

4- No More Grip Fatigue:

Does your grip fail before the target muscle group? It is a common issue faced by lifters with poor grip strength. 

Grip strength fatigues are more common while training with high volume and exercises like farmers walk, pullups, and hanging leg raises. 

Lifting straps will relieve the excess pressure from your grip which will help you push for those extra 2-3 crucial reps. 

5- Durability: 

Lifting straps are highly durable and made to withstand rigorous training sessions. 

You can expect these straps to last for a few years before you will feel the urge to invest in a new strap. 


Are Lifting Straps Allowed In Powerlifting?

The International Powerlifting Federation does not allow the lifters to use lifting straps for the deadlift.  But other powerlifting competition has its own set of rules, some allow the lifter to use straps and some don’t.

Does that mean you should NEVER use straps? 

Well, not exactly. 

There are several occasions when using straps while training definitely makes sense. Let’s have a look at a number of reasons: 

  • Hand injuries: Training sessions usually include a high volume of exercises which might make the hands more vulnerable to injuries.  Using lifting straps while high volume heavy-lifting can help in preventing hand injuries. 
  • Build strength: Powerlifting training includes accessory lifts, heavy cheat-rows, super-heavy rack pulls to improve the overall strength levels. Powerlifters often use lifting straps to strengthen the bigger muscle groups (Traps, Shoulders, Back, Glutes, etc) while separately training the grip strength too. 
  • High-rep deadlifts: Powerlifters and bodybuilders often use straps to perform high-rep deadlifts that are often not possible with bare hands. 

In short, professional powerlifters use lifting straps as a tool to improve absolute strength, build endurance and prevent injuries.


Are Lifting Straps Cheating?

It’s a common question that we get across all the lifting community, there is definitely a right time and place to use the lifting straps and one should never depend too much on the straps. 

NO, using lifting straps can not be considered cheating, instead, it’s a smart way to exhaust and strengthen the bigger muscle groups. 

Although straps are not allowed in the powerlifting competitions, they are allowed in the Strongman  Competitions-“World’s Strongest Man”. 

I personally love to start my deadlift with a double overhand grip and I deadlift barehand until I can’t lift barehand anymore. Then I throw-in my lifting strap to exhaust the target muscle groups without losing grip. 

A lifting strap is a great accessory that allows the lifter to gain muscle strength and muscle endurance all at the same time. Just like using squat shoes to provide a better surface to squat, lifting belts allows improved core stabilization, Straps reduces stress from grip to help you pull more weight with the primary muscle groups.

Should a fitness enthusiast use lifting straps? Absolutely! Lifting straps will help you lift heavier weights for more repetition which results in greater strength development. 

Should a powerlifter use lifting straps? Definitely, use those straps for a purpose. There will be plenty of other opportunities to work on grip strength but a powerlifter’s goal should be to concentrate on developing absolute strength. Lifting straps might be leaving the grip strength untrained but it is also increasing the strength of the Core, Shoulders, Lats, Traps, Glutes, Hamstrings, and Calves. 


Why Pro-bodybuilders Use Lifting Straps Instead Of Gloves?

Experienced lifters usually prefer straps instead of gloves because of a number of reasons. Here is a list of reasons: 

  • Better isolation: Straps reduce the involvement of grip strength which allows better muscle isolation while pulling exercises. 
  • Better grip: Most of the lifting gloves come with extra padding which makes the barbell or dumbbell hard to grip. Lifting straps provide a more stable grip. 
  • Pull heavier weights: Lifting straps allow better ability to pull more weights in comparison to gloves. Gloves are usually employed to avoid calluses but they are not the best solution for lifting heavyweights.

Are Lifting Straps Bad For Grip Strength?

It’s true that excess dependence on lifting straps might leave the grip untrained, that’s why you should be using them strategically. 

Are you someone who likes to train with lifting straps for every workout then you should be paying more emphasis on training for grip strength more often! We covered a separate article to strengthen your grip.

Experienced lifters use straps for the heavier lifts where they want to push through the limits but train barehand while other workouts. 

I ask my clients to start the deadlift with a double overhand grip until they can’t lift barehand anymore. After reaching a certain level of grip fatigue, lifting straps are introduced to exhaust the target muscle groups without letting the exhausted grip come in the way of better gains. 


How To Use The Lifting Straps

About 12 years ago, I remember the first time when the gym instructor introduced me to the lifting straps, and I was really excited to use them for the first time. 

I was asked to take some time to follow the proper approach of using those lifting straps properly, I was asked to practice the whole process of wrapping the strap on the barbell, again and again, multiple times until I got it 100% right.  

Remember, a lifting strap might look like a simple piece of accessory but it requires a lot of practice to perfectly use it. There is a right way to prepare straps for the wrists and to wrap them around the bar. 

Refer to the video below to learn the proper way to use straps. 


Are lifting straps necessary

If you haven’t used the straps and don’t feel the need of using lifting straps then you don’t need to. 

Training barehand can be as good as lifting with a strap or gloves.

But if you are looking to improve your Deadlift PR and never tried the lifting straps then you should definitely give it a try. In the beginning, it might feel a little awkward to lift with straps but they will surely allow you to move more weight.  

Remember, if you are not using lifting straps while deadlifts, you are probably not lifting as much as you could be. 


When To Use Lifting Straps

Straps are basically used for pull movements. The purpose of lifting straps should be to secure a stronger grip by preventing the bar from slipping. 

We do not encourage beginner levels lifters to use the lifting straps!

So when to use lifting straps? Lifting straps should be used for training sessions that involve heavy lifts and high repetitions. 

Follow the general thumb rule, we recommend barehand deadlifts while lifting below 300lbs.  Once the trainee starts to cross the mark of 300 lbs then they are allowed to include straps for the deadlift. 

Straps shall be used while going heavy with Deadlifts, Rack-pulls, Lat-pulldown, Barbell rowings, Shrugs, and Farmers walks. 

Importance of training barehand? 

Barehand training not only helps you strengthen the hands but also strengthens the wrists and forearms that plays an important role in overall functional ability. 


When to start using lifting straps

As we stated earlier, we do not recommend lifting straps to every athlete. You should be using straps according to your strength levels and expertise.

  • Beginning Lifters: Beginners should not be using straps for the initial 3-6 months of training. You should not be using straps until you have developed some basic grip strength first.
  • Intermediate Lifters: You should be using straps only for the heavy deadlifts and high-rep pulls. 
  • Advanced lifters: Advanced lifters know the trick of muscle isolation and are well aware of using straps strategically. Advance lifters also perform high volume training which makes the straps a crucial training partner. 

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