Lifting straps have been a welcome addition as a lifting accessory. Many lifters have enjoyed the extra support provided by the straps and have incorporated them into their routines. On the flip side, many lifters have opposed the use of lifting straps. These people argue that using them robs you of the full effectiveness of your workout and limits your development. In this article, I’ll answer the question once and for all. Should you use lifting straps? Let’s find out…
What are lifting straps?
To answer our question properly, let’s start from the beginning. Lifting straps are cloth or leather bands you wrap around your wrist and then around the barbell. The main purpose of them is to give you a better grip on the barbell to make sure it doesn’t slip as you work out. They take away stress from your hands and send it straight down to your forearm.
Now that you know what they are, we can ask the next question. What are the benefits of using lifting straps?
What are the benefits of lifting straps?
Why should you even bother with lifting straps? What’s so special about them that’s got everyone hyped? Here are some tempting benefits…
You last longer
Lifting straps reduce the stress on your hands and channel it to your forearms. This reduces the amount of work you have to do, which means less exertion. This, in turn, means you can last longer in your workouts. When you use lifting straps, you don’t need much grip strength. This allows you to lift longer and get much more value from your workouts.
You lift heavier
Lifting straps don’t only let you lift for longer, they help you lift heavier too. If the exertion on your hands is less and you don’t get tired as easily anymore, you can go longer than you used to and lift heavier than you used to. They make life easy on your hands so that you can target other parts of your body with heavier weights.
Less risk of injury
I already mentioned that lifting straps help you secure a firm grip on your barbell, and you probably know how important grip is in weightlifting and powerlifting. Maintaining a safe grip and proper form are the two basic rules of every workout. A safe grip is necessary not only for the effectiveness of your workout but for your safety. Letting your barbell slip off your hands could result in a dreadful injury that might sideline you for a long time. Straps reduce the risk of that by a mile.
What are the disadvantages of lifting straps?
Despite all the amazing benefits, lifting straps have some effects that might make you think twice about using them. It’s necessary to discuss both the good and bad sides to help answer our question as effectively as possible. So let’s have some disadvantages…
No grip strength development
We’ve spoken about how cool it is that lifting straps remove stress from your hands. While this function helps you lift heavier and for longer, it also has an adverse effect you might want to watch out for. The whole idea of working out is building up strength by subjecting yourself to stress. Without the stress, you won’t build up any strength.
By removing the stress from your hands, lifting straps are starving your hands of grip strength development. Other muscles might develop faster, but your hands and even your forearm are likely to be left behind. This will lead to an unhealthy dependence on them, and you don’t want that.
Dangerous with overhead workouts
Lifting straps secure your wrist to the barbell to help keep your grip secure. Again, this is an awesome benefit but you might want to be careful. Some workouts, by nature, require you to release your barbell after a complete cycle. Movements like the clean and jerk and other overhead workouts are better done without straps.
Because of how high up they are, losing your grip while working out might be more dangerous if you have them on. They also won’t let you drop your barbell to the ground, but will force you to slowly lower it down regardless of the workout.
When do you need lifting straps?
Now that you know the pros and cons of using lifting straps, you’ve probably already understood that they are good for you, but only with mindful use. Too much of it can easily become a bad thing for your development. So when should you use lifting straps?
First of all, stay away from lifting straps if you’re a beginner. You must master the basics of any workouts you’re doing as a beginner. Mastering grip, proper form and technique are your only goals as a beginner. Straps will take away that early grip strength development, and that’s a terrible way to start.
If you’ve been lifting for a while now, there’s a conversation to be had. Lifting straps can be very effective, especially if you’re trying to break past a limit. On the flip side, you don’t want to get too dependent on them, because that’s a downhill slope. Here’s my recommendation.
Avoid using lifting straps as much as you can. Working out naturally develops your grip strength and gives you a more rounded effect. If your wrists are in pain, straps are a good way to keep working out without exerting too much stress on your wrists. You can also use them when doing workouts like landmine exercises where you have to hold the collar of the barbell, which is thicker and more difficult to hold well.
Lifting straps are one of the most popular weightlifting accessories. As popular as they are, they have also generated quite some conflict. The good news is you now know exactly when to use them, if ever. So next time when your gym buddies are arguing about them, you won’t be confused. If you’re a beginner, stay natural. If you’re experienced, you have some more leeway.
Now it’s your turn. Are you a beginner? Do lifting straps sound like something you’d want to get? Is there any question I haven’t answered? Let’s talk in the comments!