When Grip Goes Wrong: Weight Lifting Straps
When it comes to lifting heavy things there are two main components - strength and grip. There may come a time when your grip gives out before your muscles do. This is where the great invention of weight lifting straps comes in.
There is a common misconception that using straps will prevent your grip strength from improving. There is some truth in this, however if used correctly it shouldn't be the case. Weight lifting straps should compliment your training regime. On a heavy back day where your primary focus is pulling, it's inevitable you will lose grip strength throughout the workout - and this will impact your ability to pull. It's in these instances that straps play a perfect part.
Weight lifting straps go around your wrist, which you then tie onto a dumbbell, barbell, or cable bar. When done correctly it should give you additional grip strength whilst preventing the bar from slipping out of your hands - allowing more focus on the movement.
A quick disclaimer here: it's important to note that straps are primarily for pulling movements and shouldn't be used for bench press and the like which can cause injury. I'd argue that using straps for cleans and snatches is also dangerous as your wrist can get caught.
What to look for in lifting straps. Everyone has their own opinion, and I've been through my fair share of straps. My preference comes down to comfort, durability, and support. When wrapping the straps they should be comfortable and have no distraction during your lifts, given the main purpose of using them is to focus on your movement and not anything else. Straps need to last long, they go through a lot of friction against ribbed bars, lots of wear and tear, and sweat - this means the quality should be enough to last a long time. Lastly, support. You want a strap that can support your wrist and hold onto the bar or dumbbell well to ensure smooth movement in each exercise.
Having been through multiple different brands, materials, and styles of straps my all time favourite has to be that of RDX (affiliate link). A company that has been around since 1999 in the UK and produce very high-quality lifting gear and accessories. I've used RDX leather belts for years and have had no problems.
Their cotton build lifting straps are incredibly resistant and have lasted over 14 months so far - it's adaptable for all wrist sizes and I've tested this with my clients too. Whilst using these straps I've never felt any fear that they'll let me down and in fact, there's even a mental feeling of extra power when using these straps. The best part has to be the value for money. For the gains, you'll see they are incredibly cheap knowing full well the brand you're buying from.
If you're looking to enhance your gains, break through plateaus and don't mind doing a little extra laundry (trust me, you'll need to), give lifting straps a go.