Lifting straps vs wrist wraps? Quite a conundrum in the lifting world for newbies.
Do you use them interchangeably, or are they meant for different purposes?
These are the two questions people ask a lot when they enter into the world of fitness, more specifically the lifting world.
The thing that confuses the beginners is that both bands appear almost the same and are worn in a similar manner, that is, around the wrist.
So what exactly sets them apart from each other? Or are they actually similar?
Let us tell you. They are not similar at all. They might appear the same to someone who is not familiar with it yet, but they differ from each other in everything, from wearing style to their functionality.
If you are completely oblivious of the differences between these two, then we have got you covered!
In this article, we have explained every little difference between wrist wraps and lifting straps, along with their pros and cons.
Read more to find out which tool you need.
What are lifting straps?
Simply put, lifting straps are a long piece of material, usually 18 inches long, that has a loop at one end. The main purpose of using a lifting strap is to aid your grip only during lifting exercises.
“Using lifting straps can be a game-changer for heavy lifting exercises, as they provide an extra layer of grip support. They allow you to focus on the target muscles without worrying about your grip strength giving out.”
John Smith (Source: Fitness Magazine, January 2022)
You don’t wear them for any sort of support or stability, you only wear them because your grip starts failing. And your grip starts to give away usually when you increase weight.
Lifting straps make sure that you hold on to the bar properly by giving you enough grip strength.
They are worn around the wrist, and the other end of the strap attaches to the bar to aid the lifter during the pull portion.
How To Use Lifting Straps?
The correct way to wear them is first feeding the unlopped ends through the loops so that the unlopped ends are in opposite directions when they are placed adjacent to each other.
Now wear both straps on each hand, where the long piece of the strap goes parallel to the thumb in both hands. The thumbs of left and right hands must be passing through the short angle that forms between the long strap piece and its loop.
Once the wrist straps are perfectly tied around your wrists, it is time to attach them with the bar. For that, you will have to place your hand on the bar such that the bar comes between your open hand and the long strap piece.
Now bring the strap inside and wrap it around the bar. Keep your hand on top of the strap and grab the bar from there. Ideally, only one wrap is enough, but most people wrap it more than once. However, one wrap is usually all you need.
What Are The Types Of Lifting Straps?
There are different types of lifting straps that can be divided based on the material and the style.
Which lifting strap is best for you usually comes down to the type of work you expect to get from it and, of course, personal preference.
Types Based On Material
Of the different material straps used, the most common three are Cotton, Leather, and Nylon.
The material of the lifting strap that you choose to use mostly comes down to personal preference.
Cotton Lifting Straps
Cotton lifting straps are the most commonly used type. These are the most comfortable option but aren’t as sturdy as leather or nylon.
These absorb sweat well and maintain their ideal strap placement even during high-intensity sweaty workouts instead of the other materials.
Nylon Lifting Straps
Nylon straps are usually used for heavy weightlifting because they are the strongest and most durable. They are great for short but heavy sets of workouts.
Nylon is not a good sweat absorbent and moves on the wrists as the exercise gets progressively sweaty, so maintaining optimal strap placement becomes challenging.
Leather Lifting Straps
Leather is mostly used due to personal preference. These straps feel much different on the skin than the cotton and nylon ones.
These straps can also maintain their shape fairly well under heavyweights instead of the other two types of straps.
Leather, however, is not as good an absorber of moisture of sweat as cotton and tends to slip as the exercise gets sweaty.
There are also different styles in which lifting straps are used depending on the requirement of the lifter.
Types Based On Style
There are three major types of lifting straps regarding how they roll around your wrist and bar.
Each rolling manner offers a certain form of functionality to the lifter and should be used based on the type and the amount of weight lifting that is to be done.
Closed-Loop / Single Loops Straps
They offer the least grip assistance and allow you to ditch the bar easily, so they are great for weightlifters who want a quick release. They are the ones to use for Olympic Lifts.
They, however, have low bar security when doing the snatch, clean, and jerk. Therefore one should not use them in the case of a weak grip.
Lasso Lifting Straps
The straps are more of a middle ground. It is very common amongst weight lifters.
They offer more security to the lift by adding more stability and grip assistance.
These are very versatile and can be used to perform pretty much any lift.
These, however, require a bit more effort when ditching the bar as compared to closed loops and so aren’t an option for Olympic lifts, e.g., a clean dish.
Figure 8 Straps
This strap is the most secure and least versatile lifting strap. They go around your wrist twice through the bar as they are double looped.
This means there is no quick release to these. They will still be anchored to your wrists if you let go.
These straps are specifically designed for Deadlifting with a double looped design.
These are great for really gripping intensive exercises.
When To Use Lifting Straps?
Most trainers want you to be able to increase weight and lift it on your own once you develop enough strength. But usually, we don’t easily develop grip strength. Our legs, shoulder, and back strength develop faster, unlike our grips.
“Lifting straps have been a valuable tool in my training routine, especially when it comes to deadlifts and pull-ups. They help me maintain a secure grip on the bar, allowing me to lift heavier weights and push my limits.”
Professional Powerlifter, Sarah Johnson (Source: Personal Interview, March 2023)
So when you think you have enough overall strength, naturally, your first intention is to take the game up a notch and increase the weights. You might endure the first few additions, but if you keep adding heavier weights, there will come a point when your grip starts to give up.
This is the time when you must do something about increasing your grip strength. There are two options; either you invest more time in doing a grip strengthening workout, or you take the help of other efficient tools.
This is where lifting straps come as your ultimate savior. So to answer the question that when exactly one needs the help of wrist wraps, it is plain and simple when your grip fails upon increasing weights during lifting.
The other instances where you might need to wear the straps are when you get a hand injury or when you do high rep deadlifts.
Pros Of Using Lifting Straps
Whatever workout you perform, you do it to work specific muscles in your body. Any type of exercise you do will be targeting either one or more muscle groups because they are designed to be specific.
In that sense, such exercises that cover a large area of your body are also specific because they are intended to work every muscle group present in your body.
The reason for mentioning all this is that when you select any equipment or tool to aid you in exercise, you must make sure that it is helping you in working on the targeted muscles.
The biggest benefit of wrist wraps is that it improves your grip strength so that you can easily lift and ultimately create fatigue of the muscles you intend to work on. This is, you can call, the right link.
In a nutshell, these straps create the right link and improve the activation of targeted muscles.
For powerlifters, lifting straps are a mighty tool as they alleviate the pain in the hand that comes from heavier weights, and they also keep the position of the grip correct.
Lastly, another great benefit of straps is they are easily available in multiple variants of length and material. So you can choose according to your preferences.
Cons Of Using Lifting Straps
The transformation king, Jason Ferruggia, once said, “No straps, no traps.” Many other coaches and trainers also label lifting straps as a way of cheating on your strength training.
Why? Because instead of working on developing your grip strength, you are taking external help.
But, no matter how much grip strength training you partake in, you will keep experiencing this grip failure with each progression.
So, the key is, use lifting straps selectively to increase your strength and size gains. Once you think the effect has started to carry over and your grips are feeling stronger, stop using them.
What Are Wrist Wraps?
If you experience pain in your wrists while doing a press workout, that’s the point when you should know that you need wrist wraps.
Wrist wraps are simple bands designed for giving support and stability to the wrists.
Our wrists are made of many tiny and delicate muscles. If they are not strengthened enough, they can go through severe pain.
“Wrist wraps provide stability and support, ensuring your wrists stay aligned during heavy lifts.”
Wrist wraps secure your wrists muscles such that when you increase weights, the muscles go through a minimum amount of stress. This way, you prevent yourself from going through bouts of pain after a rigorous workout session.
The wrist wraps differ from wrist bands in functionality as well as appearance. They are long sturdy-looking straps ending with a small loop for the thumb.
How To Use Wrist Wraps?
Put the loop of the wrap over your thumb, feed your thumb through the loop while ensuring that the long strap of the wrap goes over your hand. Now wrap the band two times around your wrist, and velcro it up.
Watch the video for more clarity.
What Type Of Wrist Wraps Are Best To Use?
The type of wrist wrap you use depends on the workout demands of your fitness regime.
Traditional Wrist Wraps
The traditional wrist wrap is a durable piece of material that wounds around the wrist.
It has a closing mechanism, a Velcro strap.
There is also a thumb loop on the side to ensure security. However, it is not relied upon much by weight lifters.
Lifting Strap Combo
This combo puts together the supportive benefits of wrist wraps with the lifting support of straps.
Unlike wrist wraps, lifting straps are not focused on providing muscle and connective tissue stability. Rather, they take over when your grip fails, allowing you to lift more weight.
Ez Grip Combo
The EZ Grip combo mixes traditional wrist wraps with an extended leather pad. They are sometimes called wrist pads.
The wrist straps provide support to the wrist, while the leather pads ensure a tight grip on the barbell.
The leather pad is built for heavyweight workouts such as weekly powerlifting. It provides a tight grip on the barbell, helping you to lift it securely.
This wrist wrap combo is similar to the EZ Grip, but instead of a leather pad, there is a lifting hook.
The wrist straps are usually reinforced with several layers of tough neoprene material. Add to that the hooks that are of steel; it becomes a perfect combination for Strongman workouts.
Pros Of Using Wrist Wraps
When your muscles start getting sore after every heavy lifting session, that is when you should know that your muscles are experiencing more strain than they could endure.
This causes injuries that ultimately disrupt your entire workout plan. Sometimes the injuries or wrist joint pain can get so bad that you might need to call of weeks training.
But wrist wrap can save you from all this trouble. And how do they do it? By providing your wrist support they need.
They act as a stabilizer for your wrist to prevent hyperextension and keep your wrist in a correct position.
With these mighty saviors wrapped around your wrists, you can easily add more weights to your workout without worrying about getting your wrist and hands injured.
You can rev up your training by lifting heavier and heavier with their support.
And you can train harder.
In short, they are the best friend for your wrists in times of pain and strain, but of course, muscles pain and strain!
Cons Of Using Wrist Wraps
The purpose of every exercise is eventually to develop muscle stability. Although the wraps allow you to lift heavier with ease, they can make you over-reliant on this aided support.
As a result, your wrist muscles won’t be as strengthened as they should be.
They can also come off a bit uncomfortable around your wrist, but not too much. Tone can eliminate this aspect by controlling the tightness level.
In a nutshell, a wrap is highly beneficial if used in moderation. Excessive use can make it a wrong tool for you.
Wrist wraps vs Lifting Strap is quite a problem in the fitness world, as new lifters are not sure which one to go for. Let’s clear this confusion once and for all!
Wrist wraps are often mistaken as being lifting straps. However, both are two completely different things and offer completely different functionality.
Wrist wraps are designed to support your wrist, alleviate tension and soreness, and protect the connective tissue that runs from your hand to your elbow.
Wrist wraps can enhance performance during movements such as the bench press but do nothing to prevent grip fatigue.
On the other hand, lifting straps are primarily used to prevent grip failure during lifting exercises. They allow you to complete the full potential of your grip to ensure you achieve target muscle fatigue for better results.
Thus, which one you choose depends upon your need and the exercise you are aiming for. Most gym athletes carry both in their gym bags.