Are you tired of failing to lift heavier weights because your grip strength gives up before your muscles? Lifting straps might be the perfect solution for you! By providing a secure grip on the bar or dumbbell, lifting straps allow you to lift more weight and target your muscles better.
This beginner's guide will explain what lifting straps are, the available types, and how to use them correctly to enhance your workouts. Whether a weightlifting enthusiast, powerlifter, or bodybuilder, you will benefit from this guide to lifting like a pro and avoiding injuries.
What Are Lifting Straps?
Lifting straps are pieces of equipment made of solid fabric that wrap around your wrists and attach to the bar or dumbbell you're lifting. A secure grip reduces the strain on your forearms and hand muscles, allowing you to lift heavier weights and focus on the targeted muscles instead of your grip. (1)
While lifting straps don't replace your grip strength, they assist you in lifting heavier weights for more reps, leading to more muscle growth and strength gains. However, lifting straps are not recommended for all exercises, as they may alter your form and limit your grip strength development. Therefore, you should use them wisely and in moderation, depending on your fitness goals and training program.
Types of Lifting Straps
There are four main lifting straps, largely made up of nylon, cotton, and leather. The most common types are:
Cotton Lifting Straps: These are the most affordable and basic lifting straps made of a blend of cotton, polyester, and has a neoprene pad for comfort. They are soft, comfortable, and easy to wrap around your wrists and the bar. However, these are only recommended if you lift 300 lbs. We do offer a thicker cotton lifting strap (TUFF v2 Cotton Lifting Straps) which is very similar material. Here is a detailed video about the cotton lifting strap.
Dual Ply Lifting Straps: These will be an excellent option for up to 500kg (over 1200 lbs.) when deadlifting and have been tested by numerous strongman athletes who deadlift over 800 pounds. As the name implies, these are made of two layers of material, reinforcing the strength of those heavy lifts.
- Nylon Lifting Straps: These are thinner, more durable, and stronger than cotton straps, as they are made of high-quality nylon or a blend of nylon and cotton. They have a rough texture that provides a better grip on the bar, but they may be uncomfortable and cause friction on your skin. Coming soon!
- Figure 8 Lifting Straps: These are the King Kong of all lifting straps and will lock you in that deadlift! These are designed to naturally grip the bar without a strap, unlike the cotton or dual-ply lifting straps. They are durable and comfortable and provide a tight grip on the bar or dumbbell. However, these require understanding how to use them to get the most benefit out of them. These are also an excellent option for anyone lifting more than 300 lbs. when deadlifting.
When to Use Lifting Straps
First off, not every lifter needs to use lifting straps. New lifters should focus on developing their grip strength and, when starting out, their grip should be enough to hold the bar while doing exercises like deadlifts or rack pulls.
You should only start using lifting straps when your grip strength becomes the limiting factor during the lift. When your grip starts to give out during your reps, that’s when weightlifting straps are needed.
It’s also important to remember to not get too carried away with your lifting straps. Becoming too dependent on lifting straps will cause your grip strength to weaken over time. That’s why we recommend only using lifting straps for the heaviest lifts and high-rep sets that you go for.
You can also use lifting straps when dealing with an upper-body injury. For example, if you have a wrist strain, you don’t want to overburden this area with heavy weight when returning to the gym. Lifting straps can take away some of the load as you re-progress back into your workouts.
How to Use Lifting Straps Correctly
When you first start using lifting straps, it can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out where to put the strap and how to position it around your wrists. Luckily, once you get used to how lifting straps work, the process will become second-nature.
For now, we've prepared a simple guide on how to use lifting straps for deadlifts, rows, cleans, or any other exercise you want to do.
1. Choosing the Right Lifting Straps
As we mentioned earlier, the type of lifting straps you choose depends on your budget, preferences, and goals. Closed-loop and lasso straps are great options if you need a lot of versatility. Figure-8 lifting straps are the best for stability and safety.
If you are still unsure which ones are best for you, check out this detailed article titled, "Which Lifting Straps Are Right For You?"
Some powerlifters also prefer lifting gloves over lifting straps, but this largely depends on your preference.
2. Putting on the Lifting Straps
Once you've chosen your wrist straps, it's time to actually put them to use. We've made two quick video guides you can watch to learn how to put your lifting straps on below.
PART 1: How to put on Lifting Straps
PART 2: How to put BOTH Figure 8 lifting straps onTo recap the videos, here's how to wrap the lifting straps around your wrists and the bar correctly:
- Start with your wrists in a neutral position and have the tail part of the wrap follow your thumb, leaving a loop on one side.
- Take the loose end and wrap it around the bar, wrapping it TOWARDSyou and not away. This will ensure it is properly on the bar and secure. (see video above)
- Try not to wrap the strap on top of itself as this will create a larger diameter of the bar to grip. You can wrap it along the bar where this won't happen.
- Tighten the strap by gripping the strap and bar and rotating your hand towards you. This will tighten the lifting strap down before you lift.
3. Things to Remember When Using Lifting straps
Now that you know how to use your lifting straps, here are some things to remember so that you can get the most out of your equipment:
- Don't Overuse Lifting Straps: While lifting straps can enhance your performance and allow you to lift heavier weights, they shouldn't be a crutch for weak grip strength. Use them in moderation and for exercises where your grip is the limiting factor, such as deadlifts, rows, or pull-ups. For activities that require a stronger grip, such as chin-ups or farmer's carries, try to improve your grip strength by using grip strengtheners or performing grip-specific exercises.
- Focus on Proper Form: Lifting straps can help you lift heavier weights, but they shouldn't compromise your form or safety. Ensure you use the correct technique for each exercise and maintain good posture and alignment throughout the movement. If the weight feels too heavy or unstable, lower the weight or use lighter straps.
- Maintain Cleanliness and Durability: Lifting straps can get dirty, sweaty, or torn over time, so it's essential to clean and maintain them regularly. Wash your cotton or nylon straps with a light detergent in the sink. Add some baking soda to the sink and give them a good wash. Avoids the washing machine as this can compromise the integrity of the strap. To dry just let them air dry. Replace your belts if they are frayed, ripped, or stretched out.
Use Your Lifting Straps Today!
Lifting straps can be a game-changer for anyone looking to improve their grip strength, lift heavier weights, and target specific muscles. However, they should be used wisely and in moderation, depending on your goals and fitness level. Following the tips and techniques in this beginner's guide, you can master the art of using lifting straps and enhance your workouts like never before. Try a pair of our TUFF lifting straps today and be sure to wrap them correctly and focus on proper form. With these strategies, you'll be able to lift like a pro and achieve your fitness goals faster and safer. #staytuff
- Valério, Denis & Berton, Ricardo & Barbieri, Joao & Calzavara, Jader & Moraes, Antonio & Barroso, Renato. (2019). The effects of lifting straps in maximum strength, number of repetitions and muscle activation during lat pull-down. Sports Biomechanics. 20. 1-8. 10.1080/14763141.2019.1610490.