Deadlifting is a powerful compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups. However, for some lifters, grip strength can become a limiting factor, preventing them from reaching their full potential in this exercise. This is where deadlift straps come into play. In this article, we'll explore what deadlift straps are, their benefits, and how to use them effectively to enhance your deadlifting experience.
What are Deadlift Straps?
Deadlift straps, otherwise known as weightlifting straps or wrist straps, are sturdy and durable lifting aids made from cotton, nylon, or leather to improve grip strength. These straps are designed to wrap around your wrists and the barbell, creating a secure connection that allows you to maintain a steady hold on the weight.
They are especially useful when you’re strong enough to lift the weight, but your grip is holding you back. This usually happens when you’re doing heavy reps near your 1RM and your hands start to slip. Every lifter, whether they’re beginner or advanced, should have a pair of straps for deadlifting in their gym bag.
What Do Deadlifting Straps Do?
So, what exactly do deadlifting straps do? Deadlifting straps do what the name says–they offer additional support when performing a deadlift. The deadlift is a full-body exercise that works your entire posterior chain, but it also requires significant wrist and grip strength to be able to hold the bar.
While the main muscle groups do most of the work during the pull, the wrist and hands need to be able to grip the bar as you complete the movement. As we mentioned above, there reaches a certain threshold where the weight you’re lifting exceeds the load your grip can handle.
Weightlifting straps alleviate some of the pressure off your hands and also aid with muscle recovery. Some say that using lifting straps is cheating, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. You cannot use deadlift straps during competition, so they can only be used to help you with your training.
And while straps for deadlifting can help you increase your load without hurting your grip, it can negatively affect grip strength if you use lifting straps too much. It’s always a good idea to build up your grip strength as much as you can and only use deadlift straps whenever you’re going close to your 1RM.
Why Do You Need Straps for Deadlifting?
So, why exactly do you need straps for deadlifting? Take a look at three reasons you should use lifting straps for this exercise.
Stronger Grip Strength
As we’ve already mentioned, using lifting straps for deadlifting can help you maintain a stronger grip. When compared, your legs and back and your hands and wrists have completely different maximum capacities. Sure, you can change grips or do accessory exercises like rack pulls, but the fastest way to handle more weight without compromising your hands is via a deadlift strap.
Read More: Deadlifts vs. Rack Pulls
Complete More Reps & Heavier Weight
The main reason your grip strength starts to falter is heavy rep loads at a high weight. You might be able to get away with 1-2 reps near your 1RM but if you’re lifting near capacity, then your hands will naturally start to give way.
The lifting strap’s ability to alleviate the load off your grip means you can complete more reps using your main muscles rather than focusing on the small muscles that keep the bar in place.
As you can see, deadlift straps are similar to deadlifting barefoot because both allow you to increase how much you lift. The only main difference is that barefoot deadlifts allow you to complete heavier weight by shortening your range of motion.
If you’ve ever seen a powerlifter’s hand, you know that it’s not pretty. Usually, the hands are covered in calluses, blisters, chalk, and even blood. The reason this happens is that during heavy lifts, the barbell can rub up against the skin of your palms.
And since you’re lifting a substantial amount of weight, your focus isn’t on the comfort of your grip. This friction between the barbell and your palm creates the calluses and blisters that you see today.
Deadlift straps create a barrier between your skin and the barbell while also taking away tension from your hands. The reduced tension and extra layer of protection can prevent most powerlifting hand injuries from occurring.
How to Use Straps for Deadlifting
So, now that you know what lifting straps are, how do you use your straps for deadlifting? First off, you should know that not every deadlift strap is the same. There are three types of straps you can use:
Closed-loop and lasso lifting straps are the most versatile of the three since they are looser-fitting and can be looped several times around the barbell as needed This allows you to adjust the lifting strap’s tightness to your liking.
On the other hand, Figure-8 lifting straps are not very versatile, but their secure fitting makes them great for maxing out lifts. We recommend only wearing Figure-8 lifting straps for lifts that don’t require a sudden change in motion with the bar (e.g. hang cleans, clean & jerks, power cleans, etc.)
You'll also need to consider the material of the lifting straps. Leather, nylon, and cotton lifting straps are very common but the materials have different pros and cons. Once you've found your favorite type of lifting strap, experiment with the different materials till you've found the combination you enjoy the most.
Regardless of the type and material of lifting strap, all three need to be equipped in a similar manner. Below are the instructions on how to use a lifting strap:
Putting on the Straps
- Start by positioning the end of the strap through the small loop on the other end, creating a secure loop around your wrist.
- Wrap the strap around the barbell, making sure it's tight and snugly fitted to prevent slippage.
- Adjust the strap's tightness by wrapping or unwrapping to a comfortable level while ensuring it provides a solid connection between your wrist and the barbell.
Deadlifting With the Straps
- Approach the barbell with proper deadlift form, keeping your chest up, shoulders back, and core engaged.
- Grip the barbell with your hands, ensuring the straps are wrapped securely around the bar.
- Stand up, lifting the barbell while maintaining a neutral spine and using your legs, glutes, and core for the lift.
- Lower the weight back to the ground with control, maintaining the same grip on the barbell throughout the movement.
When deadlifting with straps, make sure to focus on using your back and legs as well. The lifting straps will do their job and assist the wrists and hands.
What to Look for in Deadlift Straps
When looking for lifting straps for deadlifting, you need to look at a variety of factors, including material, length, function, safety, comfort, and overall durability. Note that some features will not always go hand-in-hand. For example, if you want deadlift straps that have a lot of functionality, you’ll probably prefer a pair of TUFF Velcro Lifting Strapssince they are easy to wrap around the wrist and bar.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for maximum protection and support, then you’ll probably want to get TUFF Figure 8 Lifting Straps since these focus more on wrist stability via their double-loop system and can hold up to 1,000 lbs.
When choosing deadlift straps, you need to other objective factors like:
- Material: Opt for high-quality, durable materials like nylon, cotton, or leather for better longevity. A pair of lifting straps made with the right material can last you years.
- Length and Width: The straps' length and width should be sufficient to wrap securely around the barbell and your wrists. When shopping for deadlifting straps, look for demo videos or gear specs to get an idea of the dimensions.
- Closure System: Look for straps with secure closure mechanisms, such as Velcro or buckle fastenings, to prevent accidental unwrapping.
Start Using Straps for Deadlifting Today
If you’re a lifter and find yourself plateauing during your deadlift, it might be time to start looking into a pair of deadlift straps. The ability to enhance grip strength and protect your hands allows you to focus more on pulling your weight without your hands giving out.
However, don’t solely depend on your lifting straps for deadlifting. Over time, using straps too much can cause your grip strength to recede, keeping you from reaching your full potential. Use lifting straps the right way and take over your workout today.
Check out our other deadlift-related content:
How much do lifting straps add to your deadlift?
It largely depends on the exercise, but lifting straps can help you lift 20-30% more than your previous weight when going barehand.
Can you use wrist wraps for deadlifts?
You can use wrist wraps for deadlifts, but they won’t provide the same benefits. When comparingwrist wraps vs. lifting straps, you’ll notice that wrist wraps mainly focus on providing wrist support whereas lifting straps focus on extra pulling strength. So, while wrist wraps are great for strength training, they might not help you get the extra lift you’re looking for.