If you have been lifting weights for a while, you’re probably now starting to get into the bigger, heavier weights. Maybe you are trying different kinds of moves and routines. If so, you may have noticed that your grip is slipping or it seems weaker.
Sometimes our muscles can be ready for a weight that our grip just isn’t prepared for. In those cases, a popular option for assistance is a lifting strap. A lifting strap is a strip of material that wraps around your wrists and the bar to help you get a secure grip.
If you feel like you need some help lifting while you work on your grip strength, you may want to look into lifting straps. We’ll go over the different kinds of straps and point you toward some of the best straps on the market.
There is a lively debate across the internet and in gyms everywhere about the use of straps. Many people are passionately against them, while others think they are just fine. Here a few common refrains you might hear from people opposed to them.
“It’s a sign of grip weakness.” Technically, they may be right. It can be a sign that your grip strength isn’t advancing at the same rate as your muscle strength. However, a weak grip can also come from sweating, fatigue, or a bar that doesn’t have knurling.
“It’s cheating.” This is my least favorite argument. If you compete, there are some events that don’t allow lifting straps. However, the majority of us don’t compete. If you are trying to challenge your muscles while your grip just isn’t there yet, there shouldn’t be any shame.
“They aren’t safe.” This one also has a bit of truth in it. It is very important to know how to use the straps before lifting with them. It is also important not to use lifting straps to try and reach weights you aren’t truly ready for. However, if you use them correctly, they are perfectly safe to integrate into your workout routine.
If you are worried about your grip strength, there are ways you can monitor it at home. For tips, check out this video:
There are several variations of lifting straps. The kind you choose depends on the moves you like to do, as well as your personal preferences. To choose the best lifting strap for you, you’ll need to think about materials and strap shape.
Straps can come in a few different materials. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
This is the most common material. It is great for absorbing sweat during your workout. Cotton can stretch with heavier lifts, loosening the grip and affecting long-term durability.
Nylon can be harsher on the skin than cotton. However, it generally tends to stretch less and keep better form. It is less absorbent than cotton, but it generally lasts a bit longer.
This material is the least common of the three. A lot of people prefer the way it feels on the skin compared to nylon or cotton. It’s not very absorbent, and it can tend to stretch more during lifts. Leather is very durable, though, and will keep its form over time.
Lifting straps come in several different shapes and configurations. The shape will decide how secure the strap is and how convenient setup is.
A lasso strap looks like it sounds. It has a loop on one end and a straight line at the other end. The loop is designed to fit securely around your wrist, while the rest of the strap is designed to wrap around the bar you are using. Lasso straps give you a lot of freedom and variation, but they can also be more difficult and inconvenient to use.
This lifting strap is the easiest to use. It is shaped like a headband, formed into one continuous loop. This strap is for people who don’t need a lot of assistance but want a strap for backup. It is the easiest to free yourself from in the case of a failed lift, but it also offers the least amount of security.
This strap is shaped like a number 8. It is the most secure strap available. You wrap one loop around your wrist, place it under the bar, and then wrap the second loop around your wrist.
Lifting straps could be an accessory you’ll find really useful at the gym. If so, check out a few of our favorites below.
Strong suede leather material that has reinforced stitching up and down the sides mean these lifting straps will last a lifetime. They are also extremely lightweight, which adds to their comfort.
With a lasso shape, these straps provide you with more control over strap placement and tightness. The lifting straps are 1.5 inches wide and 18 inches long. They have a layer of neoprene padding inside to keep them from digging into your skin.
At 1.5 inches wide and 21.5 inches long, these straps are longer than typical straps. They are lasso-shaped, giving you more control over how you wrap them and how tight or loose they are.
Made of synthetic cotton, these lifting straps have a canvas feel to them. They also come with 5 mm of padding, which is great for extra sweat absorption.
Padding also provides more comfort by keeping the strap from digging into your wrists during heavy sets.
Another set of lifting straps that come in the figure 8 style. This style offers the most security for times when you are truly worried about your grip failing.
They’re made from a synthetic cotton material which can help absorb sweat and tends to be pretty comfortable on your skin. The straps are enforced with extra stitching to improve durability.
Available in three different size options, so find your wrist size using a flexible tape measure before ordering to ensure a good fit. The three sizes are: 60 cm, 70 cm, and 80 cm.
The Stoic Olympic single loop straps are made with 3 mm thick leather. These lifting straps will last for a long, long time—which is great because this shape tends to be used with the heaviest weights, so as you progress you won’t have to change them.
They are cleverly designed to distribute weight all over the hand, rather than centering it on the wrist. This ensures that you are taking care of your wrists properly.
The shape of these straps will help give you the assistance you need when making big lifts. However, the lack of security will also encourage you to build your grip strength over time—making you a better lifter in the long run.
Schiek’s nylon lifting straps are designed to give you the tightest grip possible on the bar. They are just 12 inches long, which will keep you from building in too much slack.
The wrist buckle is also different from a lot of other straps. Rather than looping around your wrist, these straps secure tightly with a Velcro buckle. This keeps the straps from getting looser or tighter during your workout.
Because they are nylon, they have a bit more absorbency than the leather options out there. The end of the lasso is designed to be directly perpendicular to the wrist, ensuring that your muscles aren’t unduly strained.
Lifting straps are a great way to push your muscles without being concerned about grip weakness. Straps can keep you from worrying about sweat, hand size, or the kind of bar you are lifting. That way, you can focus only on your lifting technique and the weight itself.
My favorite lifting straps are the Dark Iron horse leather suede straps. I love the way leather feels on my skin—it’s soft and lightweight. If I do begin to sweat, I just make sure to keep a towel nearby and wipe between sets.
Have you ever used lifting straps before? Did you find that they improved or hindered your ability to increase your grip strength? Share your experience with lifting straps in the comment section below.