Using Wrist Straps for Lifting

What is a wrist strap? A wrist strap is a piece of nylon or leather that loops around the bar and your wrist, making it easier to keep your grip at a heavy wright. They’re common for bodybuilders and useful for powerlifters, amateurs, and other strength athletes.

Wrist straps allow you to continue working on a specific muscle group – usually your upper back, traps, or hamstrings, even after your hand grip might normally fail. Every time you work a specific target muscle, you want to max that specific muscle out. If your grip is failing before your target muscle, using wraps can help your build your muscle out to its max weight.

Using wrist straps is often allowed in strongman and Olympic competitions, but not in powerlifting competitions. If in doubt, use the straps to tighten up your non-competition lifts but leave them off for your competition lift.

There are three types of common straps: single loop, lasso, and figure 8s. Single loops are a simple loop of nylon. You put your wrist in the loop and wrap the tail end of your loop over the bar towards your wrist. The strap should release completely if you were to drop the weight. A lasso tightens around your wrist to offer more protection and stability. The tail end still wraps over the bar once towards your wrist. It should again release completely if you were to let go of the weight. To use a figure 8 strap, put your wrist through the first loop and wrap the second loop around the bar, looping it over your hand. If you were to drop the bar, the figure 8 would catch it against your wrist.

Exercises you can use straps on include:

  • Shrugs
  • Rows
  • Rack pulls
  • Deadlifts

Wrist straps should never be used all the time for everything. They’re best used at the end of your set for your max reps, where they can help strengthen your grip and your technique. You don’t have to use straps to find your max, either. Working without them will still allow you to build up your strength. If you find you grip is often failing, working on forearm strength can help booster it.

It’s less common to see straps with Olympic lifts like cleans and snatches because there’s more of a risk of injuries. Learning how to use straps safely will help protect you from broken wrists.

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