What Does a Weightlifting Belt Do?Strength Training 5 min Read
You may see all the big-time lifters wearing a weightlifting belt at your gym. You know that a weightlifting…
If you use lifting straps, you won’t get strong.
If you use lifting straps, you won’t have big forearms.
If you don’t use lifting straps, you will always limit the rest of your body.
Lifting straps are a tool, and when you use the right tool for the job, you will make some serious gains.
This post will tell you exactly how to use lifting straps, when, and why.
You should use lifting straps whenever your grip prevents you from pushing the muscles you want to work. Why? Because if your training focus for the day is on the back or hip dominant movements, you should not let your grip hold you back from developing strength there.
If you are worried about having a weak grip, then you should spend dedicated time training your grip. Your grip strength will not reach its potential just from doing deadlifts or rows.
You should be using straps any time your grip will limit your workout unless the sole purpose of the workout is grip training (kudos to you).
If you are doing Romanian deadlifts, the goal of that exercise is posterior chain hypertrophy (muscle growth) and hip extension strength. You should do everything you can to maximize the movement and remove any barriers. If your core strength is holding you back, wear a belt. Put on lifting straps if the barbell wants to fall out of your hands because your grip is worn out.
For most of us, our grip will wear out long before the big muscles of the back or posterior chain exhaust themselves. So putting on lifting straps lets you keep pushing the workout forward to build the most strength.
If possible, I recommend you lift with chalk and reserve lifting straps for when chalk isn’t enough.
As soon as you put lifting straps on, your form will improve because you are no longer worrying about dropping the weight.
I use lifting straps every time I deadlift. I do this because it allows me to keep a double overhand grip, ensuring my muscles develop evenly. However, if I were preparing for a powerlifting competition, I would be sure to train with a mixed grip because lifting straps are not allowed.
Straps are long pieces of cotton/leather/other material with a loop at one end. They are very cheap pieces of equipment to buy and last a very long time. I have had the same pair of lifting straps for almost ten years.
To put them on, line the loop up with your pinky & ring finger, wrap the strap around your wrist, then feed it through the loop. Just look at the pictures–it’s much simpler to see it.
Now repeat that process with your other hand.
To use the lifting straps, you need to learn how to wrap them around a bar/handle.
Rather than trying to explain with words how to use the strap, I will show you both pictures and a video.
Here is a video demonstrating how to use lifting straps.
Keep in mind that it will take some practice to learn to use the lifting straps. Therefore, I recommend practicing with light weights to get the technique down before going for max-effort lifts.
Straps can be a little tricky to use at first, and I recommend a pair of cotton straps for your first set. Cotton lifting straps are easier to learn with but won’t last you forever. I’ve watched older pairs break on 405lb deadlifts, so I recommend you upgrade after you get comfortable using them.
The reason lifting straps work is because they provide a counter to your grip. Barbells naturally want to roll out of your hand away from the fingers. When you use lifting straps properly, as it rolls out of your hand, it just gets tighter in the strap. The bar’s weight pinches the strap between your hand and the bar, so it isn’t going anywhere.
The blue straps in the pictures are Ironmind’s Strong-Enough lifting straps. These are the official straps of the World’s Strongest Man contest. If straps are good enough for the world’s strongest men, they are good enough for you.
As I mentioned above, I use lifting straps every time I deadlift heavy. This lets me focus my effort on the lift itself without worrying about the bar coming out of my hands.
You can use chalk to help with your grip, and you can use a mixed grip to help keep the bar in your hands. However, if you’re doing high-volume deadlifts at heavy weights, you should try to use lifting straps as it will allow you to push yourself even harder.
Check out The Serious Guide to the Conventional Deadlift for all the info you will need to master the deadlift.
I use lifting straps on back day as well. This lets me take my time performing the upper body pulling exercises without worrying about my grip failing.
Lifting straps also let me go heavier than I usually would and lets my workout last longer for high volume.
You can read about my favorite back exercises in the two articles below.
If you’re worried about a weak grip, you must train it.
I am not talking about using deadlifts or wrist curls.
I mean real dedicated training to build massive forearms with a vicelike grip.
You will need to buy some grippers, and I recommend the Captains of Crush Grippers.
My recommendation is to get the Guide (60lbs) if you have a 200-300lb deadlift, the Sport (80lbs) if you have a 300-400lb deadlift, and a Trainer (100lbs) if you have a 400lb+ deadlift.
Train your grip 2-3x per week preferably on days you don’t need your grip for your normal workout. I recommend 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps.
If you want some more forearm exercises, check out the article below.