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Wrist Wraps vs. Lifting Straps | What's the Difference?

lifting straps for weightlifting

If you like lifting weights, you've probably come across the dilemma of using wrist wraps or lifting straps. Both of these accessories can provide support and assistance during your workouts, but they serve different purposes and have distinct advantages.

Today, we'll look at what wrist wraps and lifting wraps are, their main differences, and the pros and cons of each type of workout equipment. Are you ready? Let’s get started!

What are Wrist Wraps?

Wrist wraps are supportive bands that are designed to stabilize and protect your wrists during weightlifting and other strength training exercises. They are typically made of elastic material and feature a loop or thumb loop for secure fastening. However, there are also wrist wraps that are easier to put on with no thumb loop like the Villain Wrist Wraps. 

Wrist wraps are used for providing stability to the wrist area. This much-needed support protects you from hurting your wrist and allows you to engage in heavy lifting exercises. You'll typically see people use wrist wraps for powerlifting, weightlifting, CrossFit, and more. 

When to Use Wrist Wraps

Wrist wraps are particularly useful when performing intense pushing exercises that put excessive stress on the wrists. These can be bench presses, overhead presses, push presses, and Olympic weightlifting movements like snatches and cleans. By offering additional support, wrist wraps can help prevent wrist hyperextension or excessive flexion.

You should also only use wrist wraps when you’re going to go above 80% of your one-rep max or if you’re exercising near your full potential for an extended period of time. 

There are other types of wrist wraps that you can use, but generally, you will use wrist wraps only for heavy lifting exercises. 

What are Lifting Straps?

Lifting straps, on the other hand, are gripping aids that assist in holding onto heavy weights, especially when your grip strength becomes a limiting factor. They are usually made of durable fabric, such as cotton or nylon, and feature a loop or hook that wraps around the bar or weight. Lifting straps primarily focus on improving your grip by transferring the load from your hands to your wrists and forearms.

When to Use Lifting Straps

Lifting straps come in handy when performing exercises that heavily involve pulling movements. These can be deadlifts, rows, pull-ups, and shrugs. These exercises often require a strong grip to hold onto the bar, and when your grip strength starts to give out before your target muscles, lifting straps can be a valuable tool. By reducing the strain on your grip, lifting straps allow you to fully engage your target muscles without being limited by your hand strength.

There are several types of lifting straps that you can use. The three most common lifting straps for heavy pulling movements are:

  • Lasso lifting straps
  • Figure 8 lifting straps
  • Closed-loop lifting straps

Lasso lifting straps are the easiest to use and, and as a result, are the most popular. Casual lifters can use this type of lifting strap for most pulling exercises where they’ll need some assistance. Figure 8 lifting straps are a little more hardcore and can’t be used for every lift. Finally, closed-loop straps are mainly meant for Olympic lifting, so only use these lifting straps when attempting exercises like snatches and deadlifts. 

Lifting Straps vs. Wrist Wraps | The 5 Main Differences

Now, let's explore the key differences between wrist wraps and lifting straps to help you understand what makes each type of wrist support unique. We’ll go over their main differences in purpose, equipment use, exercises, competition, and material. 

Purpose

Wrist wraps primarily focus on stabilizing and supporting the wrists by compressing your joints. Meanwhile, lifting straps aim to enhance grip strength and assist in holding heavy weights.

Equipment & Use

Wrist wraps are worn around the wrists either via a thumb loop or an external loop that connects the entire wrist wrap together (think the Villain Wrist Wraps). This is what helps provide compression and support during the exercises.

On the other hand, lifting straps are wrapped around the bar or weight, allowing you to grip it more securely and transfer the load to your wrists and forearms.

Exercises

Wrist wraps are commonly used in exercises that involve pressing movements, such as bench presses and overhead presses. Lifting straps, on the other hand, are beneficial for exercises involving pulling movements, such as deadlifts and rows.

Competition Availability

In some competitive lifting sports, such as powerlifting and weightlifting, wrist wraps are allowed for use during competitions to provide wrist support. However, lifting straps are generally not permitted in these competitions.

Material

Wrist wraps are typically made from an elastic material, offering flexibility and adjustability. Lifting straps are often made of sturdy fabric that won’t provide much mobility. Examples include cotton, nylon, and leather materials. This allows you to hold more weight during your exercises. 

Pros and Cons of Wrist Wraps

While we recommend people carry a pair of wrist wraps with them, there are several pros and cons that can help you evaluate whether you want wrist wraps or lifting straps. Here are the main benefits and considerations.

Pros:

  • Provide stability and support to the wrists during heavy lifting
  • Helps prevent wrist injuries and minimize discomfort
  • Additional support to forearms and wrist
  • Long-lasting–one good pair can last you years
  • Allow you to lift heavier weights with better form and control

Cons:

  • Excessive reliance on wrist wraps may lead to weakened wrist muscles and instability over time
  • You can become injury-prone if not worn correctly
  • Not suitable for exercises that do not stress the wrists significantly

Pros and Cons of Lifting Straps

Lifting wrist straps also come with their own set of benefits and considerations. Here are some pros and cons of using lifting straps: 

Pros:

  • Helps the user grip better
  • Can go for more repetitions than normal
  • Durable and long-lasting–like wrist wraps, lifting wrist straps can last for years
  • Enables you to focus on target muscle groups without being limited by grip strength
  • Ideal for exercises that heavily involve pulling movements

Cons:

  • Reliance on lifting straps may hinder the development of natural grip strength
  • Improper use may compromise lifting technique and form
  • Not necessary for exercises that do not require enhanced grip support

How to Wear Wrist Wraps Properly

As mentioned above, it’s important to wear your wrists wraps properly. We have a guide on how to use your wrist wraps properly, but you can also follow these steps below to get started: 

  1. Start with the loop or thumb loop facing upwards.
  2. Wrap the band around your wrist, pulling it firmly but not too tightly.
  3. Make sure the wrap is snug but not restrictive.
  4. Secure the end of the wrap by fastening the Velcro strap.

If you’re wearing a TuffWraps Villain Wrist Wrap, the instructions are even more simple:

  1. Start with the loop on one side and the tab on the other side
  2. Weave the loop through the tab and wrap it around your wrist and the proper alignment. Stop wrapping until you reach your desired tightness around the wrist joint
  3. Close the wrap by attaching the tab to the velcro and make sure it is properly fastened.

How to Wear Lifting Straps Properly

The same goes for lifting straps. If you don’t wear your lifting straps properly, you’re going to get injured. Here’s how to wear your lifting straps the right way: 

  1. Begin by holding the lifting straps in your hands, with the loop or hook facing downwards.
  2. Place your wrists through the loops or hooks, allowing the straps to hang down.
  3. Grasp the bar or weight, ensuring the straps are securely wrapped around it.
  4. Tighten the straps by pulling them tightly, ensuring a firm grip on the bar or weight.

Our Recommendations for Lifting Straps

If you're looking to enhance your grip strength and perform exercises involving pulling movements, feel free to take a look at our collection of lifting wrist straps. However, if you want something right now, here are two lifting straps we love to wear: 

  • TUFF Figure 8 Lifting Straps: If you lift heavy, you NEED a pair of these in your gym bag. TUFF Figure 8 lifting straps can hold up to 1,000 lbs and are constructed with heavy-duty cotton that provides maximum support and comfort that other lifting straps don’t have. 
  • TUFF Lifting Straps | Premium Padded: If you’re looking for something that can suit every fitness level, we recommend the premium-padded TUFF lifting straps. While they can’t support as much weight, they’re just as comfortable. And that doesn’t mean they can’t hold weight. TUFF premium-padded lifting straps can hold up to 300 lbs of weight, making them perfect for your next PR. 

Our Recommendations for Wrist Wraps

For those seeking wrist stability and support during pressing exercises, we suggest considering the following wrist wraps:

  • Villain Sidekick Wrist Wraps:Villain Sidekick Wrist Wraps lock in your wrist during your lifts and are extremely easy to put on. These wrist wraps have no thumb loops, so you won’t have to hassle with attaching your wrap to the bar. Instead, Villain Sidekick Wrist Wraps use a loop-velcro system, which wraps easily around your wrist, giving you the support you need to do your lifts properly.

  • Villain "STIFF" Wrist Wraps:These wrist wraps have the same features as the Villain Sidekick Wrist Wraps. You will be thumb-loop-free and adjust the tightness of your wrist wrap with ease. The main difference is that these wrist wraps are VERY STIFF and can be a CAST-LIKE wrist wrap. Use these wrist wraps only when you need to maximize wrist support.

So, Wrist Wraps or Lifting Straps?

The main difference between wrist wraps and lifting straps is that wrist wraps are used for pressing movements and lifting straps are used for pulling movements. Moreover, wrist wraps focus on protecting your joints via support and compression while lifting straps also focus on grip strength.

Ultimately, the choice comes down to you and what you prefer. Lifting straps and wrist wraps both serve different functions but, at the end of the day, they’ll push you closer to your fitness goals.

FAQs

Is it good to use lifting straps?

Yes, it's good to use lifting straps. Lifting straps are great for certain exercises, such as deadlifts rows, or pull-ups. They protect your hands, help you lift more weight, and reduce your grip fatigue. 

Are lifting straps allowed in powerlifting? 

Lifting straps are generally not permitted during competition. In training, lifting straps can be used to improve grip on heavy lifts like deadlifts and rows, helping build strength and muscle. However, during official powerlifting competitions, powerlifters cannot use lifting straps and must rely on their natural grip strength. 

Do lifting straps make a difference? 

Lifting straps can make a significant difference in exercises that require a strong grip, such as deadlifts and rows. They enhance grip strength, reduce grip fatigue, and allow you to perform more reps at heavier weights.

Jaysen Sudnykovych

Dr. Jaysen Sudnykovych D.C.

A renowned Chiropractic Physician and seasoned fitness expert, he contributes over 30 years of experience to TuffWraps.com. Holding a doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine and a bachelor's degree in Nutrition & Food Science, he is a respected authority in strength training and fitness accessories. Explore his valuable insights and practical tips on TuffWraps.com, and take your fitness journey to new heights with precision, determination, and expert guidance.

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