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Why You Should Use Wrist Straps for Lifting Heavier Weights

  Jul 2nd, 2012

Jay Cutler Using Wrist WrapsThe question of whether or not wrist straps should be used as a way to lift heavier weights is one that I’ve heard a variety of viewpoints on and one that I’ve experimented with on and off over the years.


Those that are against the use of straps or wrist wraps when lifting hold the view that using them takes away from their grip strength and forearm development by eliminating the need to squeeze the bar with maximal intensity.


I don’t think it can be well argued that this position is inherently flawed, but are you really that worried about stimulating your forearms while doing one-armed rows?


I know I’m not. I’m trying to blast my lats with as much intensity as possible during the limited amount of time I have to train them each week!


If using wrist straps allows me to pull another fifteen or twenty pounds,  increase the load on my targeted muscles, and build muscle faster, why wouldn’t I use them?


Is Grip Strength Limiting Your Gains?

I was initially turned on to idea of using wrist straps because as my dead lifting strength was increasing I started to constantly lose my grip after two or three reps. When this happened I’d have to drop the bar, wipe my hands off with my shirt, and then try to finish my set.


Most of the time my second attempt would also be limited by my ability to grip the 300+ pounds I had on the bar.


Because my grip strength was limited, I was hindering my ability to continually lift heavier and build additional muscle and strength.


So I decided to buy myself a set of wrist straps.


It only took my first couple of sets to realize I didn’t like using wrist wraps much. I had to finagle with them after every set and didn’t really like the way they felt.


While I have nothing against wrist wraps, and frequently recommend them, I quickly realized they weren’t for me – at least not for my first grip supporting implement.


Weight Lifting HooksWeight Lifting Hooks Work Too

I had seen one of the stronger guys at my gym using weight lifting hooks while dead lifting and stopped him one morning and asked him how he liked them.


He told me they were great for securely supporting the weight, but that they weren’t as natural feeling as traditional wrist straps. He said that he had tried both options and that he preferred the lifting hooks.


Based on his experience, I went out that night and bought a pair of Harbinger weight lifting hooks. I used them the next day and was immediately hooked (pun intended).


I was able to immediately add 20 pounds to my 5 rep dead lifting weight and could perform all 5 reps without having to pause after two or three reps to wipe off my hands and regain my grip.


Soreness doesn’t always correlate to muscle growth. But it had been months since I’d felt any kind of soreness in my lower lumbar region after dead lifting and it was nice to feel a little pain the next day and know the muscles in my lower back were sufficiently overloaded.


It had probably been months since they received that kind of stimulation. All because I was too stubborn to use something to help me grip the bar.


Wrist Wraps or Lifting Hooks are Essential

I used to have this macho belief that only women and pansies used wrist wraps. I guess this stemmed from the fact that I really look up to competitive power lifters and you don’t see many competitions that allow wrist straps.


This made me believe that the guys competing as power lifters didn’t actually use any supporting equipment when training for competitions, but that belief was dead wrong!


Some of the most notable lifters in the world, such as Jay Cutler (pictured at the beginning of this post), use wraps in their training. The truth is that they’d be stupid not to.


Using wrist wraps allows them to overload their targeted muscles with maximum intensity, leading to faster strength and muscle gains in less time.


I read somewhere a while back that competitive lifters will usually lift raw (i.e. without assisting equipment) a few times per month just to make sure their grip doesn’t suffer.


So, if you’re worried about compromising your grip strength, you don’t have to use wrist straps or hooks 100% of the time.


Since finally coming around and getting a pair of lifting hooks my raw dead lift has increased by over a hundred pounds. I’m positive there’s no way I’d be dead lifting over 400lbs today if I hadn’t made that decision.


Don’t be a fool. Start using wrist straps or hooks so you can lift the greatest weight possible while training your muscles.


The more weight your muscles move, the bigger they’ll grow, and the stronger you’ll get.



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