How to use weight lifting straps
For many weight lifting exercises, a strong grip is an important factor when moving the weight from point A to point B. Exercises such as deadlifts and rows are compound movements that often involve heavy weight. While your back may be strong enough to pull the weight, your grip may not be. In this case, your grip has become the limiting factor in your deadlift or row progression. The solution? Lifting straps.
Weight lifting straps remove your grip as the limiting factor by creating a stronger connection between you and the bar. The straps act as an extension of your grip and help take the strain of the weight that would otherwise be required of your hands and fingers.
How to wear weight lifting straps
A typical weight lifting strap is a length of material with a loop at one end. You feed the other end through the loop to create a second loop to put your hand through. The loop should be resting on the back of the wrist. Now, pull the loose end to tighten the strap around your wrist.
Important note: the loose end of the strap should follow the path of your thumb when your hand is open. If the loose end of the strap is facing away from the path of your thumb, your strap is on the wrong hand.
Which direction do I wrap the lifting strap around the bar?
Now you have one end of the lifting strap looped around your wrist, the loose end needs to be wrapped tightly around the bar, but which way? If you are using an overhand grip, the strap should be wrapped under the bar. If you are using an underhand grip, the strap should be wrapped over the bar.
If you are new to straps, use the opposite hand to wrap the first strap around the bar. As you get used to it, you can do both hands independently. Once both hands are on the bar, tighten the straps by using a motion similar to revving a motorbike throttle. The straps are tight on your wrists and the bar and you are ready to lift.
When should I use lifting straps?
When you use lifting straps will depend on what you are trying to achieve. When building strength, a common way to use straps will be on the last set or two of a compound movement. This way, you still use entirely grip strength on the way up to the working weight and only move to the straps once your grip can no longer handle the load.
Lifting straps can also have their use for bodybuilders and those looking to build muscle at sub-maximal weights. Using straps eliminates grip as a limiting factor and removes the worry of your grip failing. As a result, you can release grip tension and apply focus to the muscle you are trying to work, improving the mind-muscle connection. For example, using lifting straps on a lat pulldown can allow you to better relax the grip, forearms and biceps, and more effectively isolate the lats that you are trying to work.
Overall, weight lifting straps can be a hugely effective tool to eliminate grip as a limiting factor for your lifts. They can also help you better isolate a muscle for a stronger contraction. It's important to consider how and when to use them as part of your training program to maximise their impact on your results.