In the world of weightlifting, where strength and technique are paramount, athletes are always on the lookout for tools that can help them maximize their performance and prevent injuries. Two such tools that often come into play are lifting grips and lifting straps. But which one should you choose?
We’ve compared lifting gloves and lifting straps. Today, we’re comparing lifting grips versus lifting straps. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the differences between these two accessories so you can decide for yourself which one to use.
What are Lifting Straps?
Lifting straps, also known as wrist straps, differ from gloves as they don't cover your entire hand. They measure approximately 1" to 1-1/2" wide and 12" to 22" long, allowing for a secure wrap around your hand to firmly connect with barbells or dumbbells. Lifting straps are essential tools for enhancing your strength training. They provide bar security, improve grip, and offer vital wrist support.
You can use lifting straps for deadlifts, rows, rack pulls, and more. They’re also particularly useful for exercise variations like the stiff-legged deadlift or Romanian deadlift.
What are Lifting Grips?
Lifting grips serve a multi-purpose role in weightlifting, offering wrist support, palm protection, and an enhanced grip. They consist of two key components: a wrap that secures your wrist in place and a padded strap that shields your skin while ensuring a secure grip throughout your entire set.
These grips are typically constructed from durable materials like leather, rubber, and neoprene, ensuring their longevity and resistance to wear and tear.
Lifting grips prove especially useful in exercises like deadlifts, pull-ups, and barbell rows. They excel in isolating target muscles, allowing you to focus on your workout without worrying about your wrists, forearms, or biceps. Additionally, they offer protection for calloused or torn skin against the rough texture of bar knurling, especially during intense training sessions.
Lifting Straps vs. Lifting Grips: The Main Differences
The main differences between lifting straps and lifting grips boil down to a few key factors, namely their grip, level of comfort, price, and how easy they are to use.
Lifting grips offer a firmer grip, and are well-suited for exercises involving high repetitions, like those in bodybuilding or intensive fitness sets. They help prevent slipping during extended sets. Lifting straps also assist your grip but may require occasional tightening during long sets.
These grips also provide additional wrist support and palm protection, making them an all-in-one accessory. However, some find them less comfortable due to their snug fit. Lifting straps, on the other hand, offer a more natural feel as they don't cover the hand tightly, and they typically don't distract you during your workout. Yet, be aware that certain lifting straps can initially be harsh on the skin, potentially causing bruises or soreness.
Additionally, lifting straps may take some time to wrap properly, especially when using them with one hand. If you prefer a quicker solution, lifting grips allow you to get started almost immediately.
Budget-wise, lifting straps are generally more affordable than lifting grips, but they tend to wear out faster, depending on the brand. High-quality lifting grips, while pricier, can last for years. Consider your budget and the longevity you desire when making your choice.
Related: Lifting Straps vs. Wrist Wraps
How to Use Lifting Grips
If you decide that lifting grips are for you, then you’ll need to know how to use them. Here are the step-by-step instructions on using lifting grips:
- Secure the Wrist Wrap: Begin by placing the wrist wrap on your hand and fastening it tightly but comfortably around your wrist.
- Position the Strap: Next, slide the strap beneath the bar or handle you'll be lifting.
- Grip and Lift: With the wrist wrap in place and the strap underneath the bar, position your hands over the grips with a firm hold. Then, begin your lifting exercise. The lifting grips will help you maintain a secure and confident grip throughout your set.
Types of Lifting Straps
When it comes to lifting straps, you have several styles to choose from, each with its unique advantages and limitations. Your choice should align with your specific lifting goals and exercises. Here's a breakdown of three common styles:
- Closed Loop Lifting Straps: These straps, sometimes called Olympic straps, provide minimal grip assistance. However, their key advantage is that they allow you to release the bar easily, mimicking a grip without straps. This makes them ideal for Olympic lifts. An exception is "the clean," where any type of lifting strap, even closed-loop, can interfere with the front rack position. Be cautious if you're considering this style for your workouts, especially for Olympic lifts.
- Lasso Lifting Straps: Lasso straps strike a balance between stability and grip assistance, offering more support than closed-loop straps but not as much as Figure 8 straps. With lasso straps, you can still release the bar, although it requires a bit more effort compared to closed-loop straps. Due to their versatility, lasso straps work well for a wide range of lifts, except for Olympic lifts.
- Figure 8 Lifting Straps:Among these three styles, using Figure 8 straps provides the most grip stability. However, this design prevents you from easily releasing the bar. If you let go, the bar remains anchored to your wrists. Figure 8 straps excel in exercises that demand a strong grip, particularly during heavy deadlifts and shrugs, where reducing grip demands is a priority. If you want to wear lifting equipment that easily releases, try using wrist wraps with no thumb loops. They provide great stability and remove the hassle of putting the straps on and off the bar.
Lifting Strap Materials
Many straps combine different materials to offer the best of both worlds, such as the comfort of cotton with added strength from nylon. Ultimately, the choice of material comes down to personal preference, while the style of the strap depends on the specific use case.
- Cotton: Cotton is the go-to choice for comfort. It's suitable for a wide range of lifting activities. However, it's worth noting that cotton tends to be less durable compared to nylon or leather, though a quality pair can still last a while.
- Nylon: Nylon boasts impressive strength, making it ideal for short, heavy sets. However, during higher-repetition workouts, its smooth texture can lead to quick sweating, diminishing the grip assistance and potentially causing chafing.
- Leather: Leather offers durability, but it comes in various levels of toughness and softness. While it holds its shape well, it's less absorbent than cotton, which can affect its grip as your workout progresses. Leather straps take some time to break in, depending on their specific softness or toughness.
If you want a full overview of the different lifting strap materials, we recommend reading our full comparison of leather vs. nylon vs. cotton lifting straps.
Why Choose Lifting Grips?
In this section, we'll explore the reasons why lifting grips are a smart choice for many fitness enthusiasts. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned lifter, understanding their benefits can help you build the best strength training regimen.
- Durability and Longevity: Opting for lifting grips means investing in long-lasting performance. They become more robust and flexible with extended use, ensuring they remain a reliable part of your lifting gear for years to come.
- Rapid Transitions: Lifting grips offer swift setup changes. You can quickly wrap the lifting grip portion around the bar, reducing setup time and allowing you to concentrate on your upcoming movements without interruption.
- Simplicity of Use: Lifting grips simplify your lifting routine by eliminating the need to fiddle with excess material. They provide a strong and dependable grip around the bar, making your lifting experience smoother and more efficient.
Why Choose Lifting Straps?
Lifting straps, a versatile tool in the world of strength training and weightlifting, can significantly impact your performance and training experience. Here are three reasons why lifting straps are widely used and explore the advantages they bring to your workouts.
- Heavier and Longer Lifts: Weightlifting straps connect your wrists or hands to the weight, allowing you to focus on completing heavy sets without worrying about your grip or compromising your form. This enables individuals engaged in strength training to lift heavier weights for more repetitions, facilitating continued progress.
- Less Grip Fatigue: Your grip has its limits when it comes to handling weight. Weightlifting straps step in to alleviate grip fatigue, enabling you to push yourself with heavier weights. By using lifting straps, your grip remains strong, allowing you to target your muscle groups effectively and consistently advance in strength and muscle-building. For a full breakdown, read our article on how to use lifting straps.
- Lower Risk of Injury: Straps play a pivotal role in maintaining a secure and strong grip on heavy weights, reducing the risk of them slipping out of your hand. They support lifting heavier loads without compromising form. Straps secure your wrists and prevent them from succumbing to the weight's strain.
In the end, your choice boils down to your goals. Lifting straps and grips can help you lift more weight and do more reps in exercises like deadlifts, rows, and shrugs. If you prefer, you can focus on building grip strength through methods like the hook grip or using chalk or tape. But it's important to know that lifting straps and grips offer a simpler and more effective way to boost muscle growth in these heavy-pulling exercises. Your decision should align with what works best for you.