In this review feature, we take a look at the best lifting straps on the market. First we will discuss the benefits of using them and dispel any myths about weightlifting straps floating around out there. When you ask an exercise enthusiast or bodybuilder about weight lifting straps, you’ll usually find opinions fall into two common categories. The first will reply with something like, “Weight lifting straps!? Those are for [insert expletive here], plus those aren’t doing anything for your grip strength.” and the second will generally reply that they use them for some lifts and not others. While their is some merit to the first opinion, particularly the second part, we favor the common sense of the second. Lifting straps, when used correctly and for specific exercises, will improve performance and in turn accelerate your gains.
There isn’t a debate about the effectiveness of weight lifting straps in the regard of them preventing slippage. However, this is a debate about whether you should use them in the first place. First we will be discussing what lifting straps are exactly and how to use them. We will provide the top benefits the best weight lifting straps provide for users and what separates the best lifting straps from the rest. In the review section, we check out the top lifting straps of this year and why we think you’ll like them.
Best Lifting Straps of 2015
Here are some of the best weight lifting straps available. We update our pages regularly so you’re always viewing the freshest content and latest product selections.
Schiek makes a number of weight lifting wrist straps. These Schiek Lifting Straps are definitely in the running for the best lifting straps on the market. You pay a bit more for the deluxe version, but that’s still only $20 bucks for a set of 2 and worth the price for an excellent combination of functionality and comfort. Schiek incorporates an extra thick design with wide stainless steel buckles that are built to last. Many lifters like the plush neoprene wrist support. These straps are 12 inches long from attachment to the end of the strap. Many straps will get uncomfortable when you go upwards of 350-400lbs, but that isn’t the case with these due to the padding around the wrist. Another great feature is that the strap can be secured to the wrist with velcro, so when you’re in between lifts or doing a lift where they aren’t needed the tail is out of the way.
Harbinger is known for making premium weightlifting gear and equipment. They’ve been around since 1988 and are prominent player in the fitness product category. Harbinger lifting straps are one of the most popular options for lifters. If you’re looking for a solid, low cost option, you can’t get much better then the Harbinger padded lifting straps. The foam that runs across the hand is about 5mm thick, which will help protect your hands during heavy weight or high repetition training. They are slightly wider, longer, and thicker than traditional lifting straps providing a stronger grip on the bar as the grip surface area is increased. The heavy duty stitching helps these withstand anything you throw at them.
If you’re looking for something new, Harbinger also manufacturers “lifting grips”. These incorporate a unique design and are not your everyday lifting straps. Advocates claim that these allow more flexibility in the wrist and fingers, while still retaining a secure grip on the bar. These lifting grips are manufactured with heavy duty stitching and high quality leather. While they take some time to fully break in, the leather can withstand a beating and soaks up sweat efficiently. Harbinger has named this leather material spidergrip durahide. Whatever it is, the material does its job nicely and forms to the bar for a powerful, strong grip.
IronMind lifting straps have won a lot of contracts for strongmen and lifting competitions. You may have seen them as all their straps rock the characteristic bright blue color. They’ve certainly raised the bar on lifting strap quality with the Blue Twos. The Blue Twos are competition grade straps, made with robust blue webbing. These are wider and longer than the average strap, but fortunately not too thick to prevent you from getting a solid grip on the bar. The material feel is akin to something like a seatbelt. IronMind uses a custom nylon material for these straps, for extra durability and flexibility. You can check out their series of lifting straps here.
Weight lifting straps simply increase grip performance. This aids users in decreasing the risk of slippage, greatly reducing the chance of the bar sliding out of your hands. This may happen for a number of reasons, including lack of grip strength, sweaty hands, having smaller hands, grip fatigue when nearing the latter part of a set, or gripping something without knurling/texture on the handle. Some lifters will recommend the use of gym chalk over lifting straps, but gym chalk only decreases slippage caused by sweat and slightly improves grip by increasing friction. That is not to say chalk isn’t helpful, it is, just not as secure as lifting straps. In addition, some gyms have banned chalk because of the mess and daily cleanup required.
It is interesting how two short pieces of cloth can have such a large effect on specific lifts. You’ll see competitive power lifters and Olympic lifters use them all the time. Some crossfit guys will use lifting straps to help reduce muscle and grip fatigue that sets after doing high reps/sets workouts. Lifts like rows, reps of power cleans, deadlifts, snatches, shrugs, and weighted pull ups are the types of exercises that will most benefit from the use of lifting straps. Some guys will even use lifting straps for curls. Any exercise where your grip becomes a major factor in successfully completing the lift could potentially incorporate lifting straps.
While most lifting straps use some type of durable cloth, other materials and different designs have been produced by manufacturers. The most common lifting strap materials are cotton, leather, and nylon. There’s a story from the 1977 international weightlifting competition where a big Russian champion by the name of Vasily Alexeev lost his straps so he pulled a Macgyver and made a straps out of a pair of gym socks. He did help him do a couple of pulls before the socks stretched and slipped from his hands. Of course, a pair of socks is not optimal for increasing performance, but as you can see just a little wrist support goes a long way in performing heavy lifts.
Lifting straps do make a difference. Just look at Mario Martinez, a top US weightlifter with career bests of 513 pounds in the clean and jerk and 415 pounds in the snatch. He lost gold in the 1984 Olympics by 5 pounds, experts speculated that with the use of lifting straps he would have won. In Olympic weightlifting, it has been shown that lifting straps help competitors lift anywhere from 5 to 10 percent more weight. That may not seem like much, but if you started using lifting straps and continued using them for a couple years, you’ll compound your gains. That means 2-3 years down the road you could be lifting 50-100+ more weight on big lifts then the guy that decided to never use them.
Not only are lifting straps going to help you improve your performance, they also provide users with a layer of safety from the most severe injuries at the gym. The last thing you want when you’re lifting (or pulling) heavy weights is for your grip to slip on you. Something like that can cause serious injury, so serious in some cases you won’t be heading back to the gym for months or even years. Even if you don’t get injured, slipping when lifting seriously heavy weight can damage equipment or the gym, or at the very least earn you some glares from other members who’s ears just got rattled.
How to Use Lifting Straps
If you had the opportunity to take a weightlifting class in high school or college you may already know how to use lifting straps properly. It is like tying a shoe, once you learn the method it is a piece of cake, but not obvious to those who’ve never done it. To receive the full benefit of lifting straps, you need to wear them on your wrist properly. You’d be surprised to know how many guys wrap the straps around the bar the reverse way — neutralizing most the benefit of wearing them in the first place. Furthermore, you need to learn how to secure them to the bar or other mechanism you’ll be using to lift. By wrapping the free end of the lifting straps around the bar, you’ll reinforce your grip.
Some lifters wears straps for almost every lift, but that isn’t necessary. Doing this also may prevent you from building up grip and wrist strength, and you may not develop calluses. Also, you might look a little silly and receive some negative attention if you start pumping out bench press reps with straps on. Most lifters agree that it is best to use them for heavy pull lifts and to secure your grip for deadlifts. Olympic weight lifters will often use them to train snatches for longer and harder without destroying their hands.
- Slide the ends of the lifting straps through the loops
- Put your hands through the loops
- Slide the loop all the way down to where the wrist meets the palm, get it as close to the palm as possible (you don’t want it up your wrist or you’ll decrease support)
- Make sure the tail goes from underside of wrist through thumb and pointer finger (opposite side of how you would wear a watch)
- Cinch the loop up until it is tight around the wrist. Now you’re ready to grip the bar
- Put the tail underneath the bar the same way your thumb would go underneath
- Flip the tail over and Under, twist it tight
- Repeat step 7 2-3 times
- Now you’ve got a powerful and secure grip that will not slip out of your hands
Kevin Weiss of Body Performance Personal Training has an excellent video where he shows you exactly how to use lifting straps. He demonstrates how to properly wear and secure the straps:
Benefits and Drawbacks of Lifting Straps
There are reasons why weight lifting wrist straps can be found in most professional and body building type gyms, as well as in athletic facilities across the board. You’ll even see strongmen use them to lift the heaviest weights on the planet. Though you may sacrifice some gains in the grip department by using straps during specific lifts such as deadlifts, your big muscles will gain faster and more than make up for it. Likely, your grip is already going to get strong if you are lifting weights. Many people have the mindset that they are not doing a lift like deadlifts to improve their hand and finger strength, just as they are doing shrugs to improve their ability to hold the weight. You’re trying to blow up your back and shoulders doing lifts like that whereas if you want to train your grip, you can do that separately on its own time.
If you have issues with your grip, it is pretty easy to improve. You can perform certain exercises that target gripping muscles and forearms. Many lifters will also utilize thick implements aka fat grips. Thick implements are very efficient for training because you improve your grip at the same time you work on the muscle you are actually targeting.
Not everyone will enjoy using lifting straps and some people don’t perform well with them. Sometimes this is mental, sometimes people have just trained so long without them they can’t integrate them successfully. If that’s the case, it is fine to pass on them, you can still get big and improve without the use of lifting straps.
Weight Straps Benefits:
- Use More Weight
- Avoid grip fatigue during high repetition sets
- Increase maximal overload of the muscles
- Prevents risk of serious injury
- Prevents slippage
- Decreases risk of gym rattling drops and annoyed glares
Weight Straps Drawbacks:
- Cannot be used for all lifts
- Can become dependent upon straps
- Reduces calluses buildup
- May need to increase supplemental grip building exercises