Q&A: Using Lifting Straps

by Chris on June 29, 2011


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I was in the gym other day and another trainer asked my what my opinion on the use of wrist straps was. I know lots of coaches and trainers who are adamantly against the use of straps, claiming that using them will lead to a weak grip. That’s a valid concern, but I think it’s a little overly worrisome.

While I do a significant amount of grip/wrist/forearm work including things like tearing phone books & decks of cards or bending nails I don’t really consider myself a “grip guy”. I often defer to far more knowledgeable people, like Jedd Johnson, when I need advice on grip training.

With that said, I do try to avoid using lifting straps as much as possible. This does help strengthen my hands and forearms when doing thing like deadlifts, romanian deadlifts, rows and other exercises. However, when doing movements like those it’s important to remember one thing: what’s the main focus of that movement? If you’re doing rows the main focus for doing that movement is to strengthen that movement and the muscles involved. So therefore, if your limiting factor on heavy rows is your grip then I believe it’s excusable to use straps. Sure, you won’t be getting as much work for your grip but that’s not the point of the exercise so it doesn’t matter. Now, if you have no problem handling the weight then absolutely don’t use straps if you don’t need them.

I will say this: if you regularly need to use straps because you grip is constantly failing on exercises, then you should be including some extra grip work in some way to strengthen your hands. Don’t use straps on any exercise that you don’t absolutely need them for and check out some of the grip training resources listed throughout this site and in the store.

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