What are Weight Lifting Straps?

Lauren Fritsky

Weight lifting straps are strips of fabric that exercisers or bodybuilders may wear around their wrists and over the hands to get a better grip on weights when lifting. Also known as lifting straps, powerlifting straps, weight training straps and weight straps, they're commonly used during more intense lifting exercises such as deadlifts and heavy dumbbell presses. The straps are normally made of a non-stretching material such as nylon, cotton, leather or suede and have a loop on one end. They are secured by pulling one end of the strap through the loop located on the other end.

Improper weight lifting may lead to chronic back pain.
Improper weight lifting may lead to chronic back pain.

Weight lifting straps can promote a better workout by allowing the lifter to get a better grip thereby allowing him to target certain muscle groups. Weight lifting straps can also help those with sweaty hands who otherwise might drop the weight lifting bar. Some experts advise against overusing weight lifting straps because reliance on them may actually make the lifter's natural grip weaker. Inexperienced lifters might want to avoid using these straps, as there is an additional risk of injury when using them.

Weight lifting gloves may cause blisters to form.
Weight lifting gloves may cause blisters to form.

To use the lifting straps, fitness experts advise putting them on the least coordinated hand first. After putting both hands through the loops, the straps should be positioned between the thumb and first finger. The strap is then pulled taut around the wrist, with the strap hanging toward the floor when the bar is gripped. Finally, the strap is wrapped under the bar and back over the top twice. The bar itself can then also be twisted toward the lifter to tighten the straps a bit more.

In addition to weight lifting straps, some individuals use weight lifting hooks when exercising. Lifting hooks are made of fabric hook-and-loop fasteners that go around the wrist with a metal hook that is held in the palm of the hand. Some fitness experts claim lifting hooks perform better than weight lifting straps, particularly when used in certain exercises such as deadlifts, shrugs, and barbell rows.

Weight lifting gloves can also help the grip of weight lifters. These gloves are typically made of leather or neoprene and absorb sweat. They usually have a padded side that should be worn on the palms of the hands and they typically do not cover the fingers. Wrinkles in these types of gloves should be avoided as they may cause blisters to form.

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