Going to the gym requires of a lot of strength to be able to lift such weights. Quite often you may see lifters failing one or more reps due to the lack of grip strength. Lifting straps allow the lifter to avoid failure due to grip strength.
In this post it's the turn of the lifting straps. We'll discuss the uses, types, and pros and cons of lifting straps. Scroll down and enjoy the content!
Function of Lifting Straps
The main function of lifting straps is to minimize the requirements of your grip during the lifting.
They enable you to take the grip strength out of the equation to focus solely on technique and the lifting itself.
Lifting straps also confer higher grip security (study) and are tought to produce an ergogenic effect (study).
In short, lifting straps are used to minimize grip requirements, improve ability to focus on the lifting itself, and provide higher security during the movement.
If used on the right moment and exercise, lifting straps can help you improve your strength and lifting performance.
Types of Lifting Straps
There are three types of lifting straps on the market:
- Lasso lifting straps
- Figure-eight lifting straps
- Closed loop lifting straps
All three types function similarly, but there are some differences on the 'set up' and grip simulation.
Lasso Lifting Straps
These are the most popular type of straps.
They are either attached at the ends, or one end is looped over and sewn to the strap, and then the strap is passed back through the loop.
Your hand goes through the space created by a looped strap so that the strap rests on the back of your hand just below your wrist.
The rest of the strap goes over and outside your thumb on one side, and outside of your hand (just below the wrist) and down your palm (to slightly beyond your fingers) on the other side.
You now wrap the strap around the barbell by going underneath and around the bar, and then cinch it up so that the bar is tight in your hand—you are gripping the bar with the strap wrapped around it so that it will not slip out.
Lasso lifting straps are more difficult to use and require of more practice. The grip is easier to mantain, simulating the grip you'd be using without straps.
This enables you to not depend fully on the straps and be able to mantain your grip strength.
Lasso lifting straps are also more secure. Because the attachment is not 'permanent', they will unroll and drop the bar if you open your grip.
Figure-eight lifting straps
This type consists of pieces of strap sewn in an eight shape. Here, you don't need to roll the strap over the lifting bar.
The set up is considerably easier. Put your hand through one nod, take the bar and close the bar with the other nod passing underneath and coming back to your hand.
These straps provide a very passive grip. In this case, you are not able to unroll the straps and drop the bar in the middle of the set.
During heavy deadlifts, these straps provide a shorter range of movement.
Because the straps are sitting over the distant phalanges of your hand, you have a few centimetres less to lift, probably giving a few more pounds to your lifting.
Closed Loop Lifting Straps
The mechanism and set up is basically the same as with the Lasso lifting straps. They are shorter, and only one loop is made around the bar, while Lasso provide at least two loops.
They are widely used on olympic weight-lifting. Because they are shorter, there's a higher risk of losing the bar during the exercise.
If you are doing compounds weightlifting movements, these straps will provide a higher flexibility of movement throughout the exercise.
Pros of Using Lifting Straps
Lifting straps are usually positive for your performance. But you need to think carefully when and how to use it.
Lifting Straps Prevent from Failure Due to Grip Strength
In pull exercises, grip strength is usually the limiting factor. Your back is not being activated to its fullest because the grip makes you stop before that happens.
In this study, participants using straps were able to mantain a better grip, perceive a greater security and power, and improve overall mechanical performance.
Not only the performance, but the muscles went closer to failure .That increased the recruitment of muscle fibres, and response of muscular adaptations (study)
Lifting Straps Allow for higher volume loads
With lifting straps, you are able to do more repetitions because of the grip.
That takes you to a higher volume load, and muscle hypertrophy interest.
Help you mantain the quality of the sets
The grip strength has a very low capability of resistance. Your grip fatigues very easily
After 1-2 sets, the quality of your grip and set will drop dramatically. Lifting straps prevent this to happen.
Higher quality of sets increases your motivation and adherence to training.
You Are More focused on the Exercise
Lifting straps minimize the 'noise' of all the disturbing factors from the grip.
As you struggle with the grip, you are not focused on the technique, strength,...
Better response to pull exercises
Lifting straps are widely used for pull exercises like heavy rows and lat pull downs.
As it happens with deadlifts, grip strength limits your performance and muscle activation during these exercises.
With lifting straps on these exercise, you achieve higher volume load and intensity. The use of lifting straps will indirectly take you to achieve more muscle growth.
Cons of Using Lifting Straps
Everything has its pros and cons, and lifting straps is not an exception. After this, you'll be able to evaluate wether lifting straps are for you or not.
Don’t train your grip
As another muscle, you can train your grip to progressively improve it and become stronger.
Lifting straps will take the grip out of the equation, and the volume load given to the grip will be much lower.
Use the straps only in heavy sessions, or the heaviest set of the workout.
Your technique will be different
With use lifting straps, you start the deadlift from a higher point, not paying too much attention to the exercise itself.
Because of the security the straps give us, the first 'attack' is usually more agressive, and that can deteriorate your technique as well.
Don't use the lifting straps on every set, and as you get closer to the competition (if competing in powerlifting), you might have to take them out completely.
You may become reliant on lifting straps
When you are used to use lifting straps in all your workouts you may become full-reliant on them.
You think you need the lifting straps to lift heavy. But in reality, lifting straps don't add that many pounds to the movement, it's more 'nocebo effect' than anything else.
Noticeable reduction in forearm and grip strength
You usually only train forearm and grip strength indirectly through compound exercises. If in these you are using straps, then you won't be training them at all.
When Should You Use Lifting Straps?
This is a checklist of situations in where we recommend using lifting straps
When to use lifting straps
General advice: only use them when the real limiting factor of the exercise is the grip strength or the forearm instead of the desired muscle.
- If you are an advanced subject and your liftings are considerably heavy (>220lbs squat, >270lbs deadlift, >180lbs bench press)
- Heavy sets on deadlifts and free heavy rows
- Advanced techniques on pull exercises (e.g. dropset in lat pulldown)
- Weighted pulll-ups with high demand of grip strength
- In the last sets or more intense sets of the session
When not to use lifting straps
General advice: don't use if you are still developing a good technique and grip strength, or if the forearm and grip are not the limiting factor.
- If you just started going to the gym and you grip is still not strong enough
- On seasons close to competition (if competing in a strength discipline)
- During backoff sets on deadlift or lighter sessions
- Don't use them on all sets of all exercises.
- On exercises with a developing not-established technique.
What Lifting Straps Should You Buy?
Lifting straps are generally cheap and of high quality. But once in a while you end up buying a p**ce of sh*t that you cannot use for anything.
These are the best lifting straps available on the market!
Lifting straps help you improve your deadlift performance and some other pull exercises.
Lifting straps make you feel more confident and reduce the demands on the grip and forearm. However, not everyone should use them, and it depends on your needs and goals.