How To Use Wrist Straps

Wrist straps have honestly been a lifesaver for me!

This is because I suffer from a condition called tennis elbow (otherwise known as lateral epicondylitis). Basically, when the tendons in my elbow are overloaded, I experience excruciating pain. 

As you can imagine, the type of exercises that overload the tendons of the elbow the most are those that involve pulling movements.

Therefore, I have a limit to how much weight I can pull before my elbows flair up. And that limit is much less than the amount of weight I need to target the muscles of my back effectively. 

Unfortunately, most weight lifters face a similar dilemma. While I’m limited by my condition, others are limited by a lack of forearm strength.

The problem is that some lifters can pull more weight than their grip can handle. This is especially true during exercises such as the deadlift. 

Have you ever deadlifted and noticed that your grip is starting to give out? I know I definitely have. 

Even if your wrists are strong enough to hold the weight, pulling allot of weight strains your tendons which can lead to you developing tennis elbow. And trust me, this is something you don’t want to risk.

How do Wrist Straps Work?

Wrist straps work by moving tension away from forearm muscles and elbow tendons and onto your wrists. In other words, they remove tension away from muscles we are not targeting. The benefit of this is that we are able to fatigue the target muscle (back, traps, lats, etc) without worrying about losing our grip. Or in my case, without worrying about experiencing a lot of pain. This will be a little more clear when I show you how to use them.

To be a little more specific, weightlifting straps work by forming a loop around your wrist which is used to hold the weight.

how do wrist straps work

The end of the loop is then wrapped around a bar, barbell, or dumbbell.

how do wrist straps work

This creates sort of a hook which alleviates stress on the forearms and helps you pull more weight. If I had to guess, I would say this transfers about %30 of the load on your wrists.

When to Use Wrist Straps.

Here is a nice rule that will help you out tremendously in weight lifting; 

An exercise should fatigue the target muscle before it fatigues anything else. If it doesn’t, you are either doing something wrong or the exercise is bad. 

For instance, if doing a bench press (an exercise that predominately targets the chest muscles) fatigues your shoulders, somethings not right. You’re probably not retracting your shoulder blades enough or flaring your arms out too wide.

Similarly, if doing shrugs fatigues your forearms before it fatigues your trapezius muscle, something is also not right. Odds are your forearms arn’t strong enough yo hold the weight. This would be a scenario when you should use wrist straps.

In general, wrist straps are used when performing a “pulling” movement (bent-over barbell rows, lat pulldowns, etc.), or when deadlifting.

Who Should Use Wrist Straps?

You should use wrist straps if fall under any these categories:

  1. Your experience pain when pulling heaving weight.
  2. Your wrist strength is underdeveloped.
  3. You are a powerlifter.

If you fall under the second category, using wrist straps may seem counterproductive. 

By removing tension away from your forearm muscles, you wont give them a chance to develop, and the problem will only get worse. This is absolutely true. 

That is why it’s important that you incorporate some sort of forearm strength training routine into your workouts if you use wrist straps. Personally, I like to begin my back workouts with forearms stretches and 4 sets of palms-up barbell wrist curls, and end with 3 sets of wrist rotations followed by 3 sets of farmer’s walks.

I find that starting off with a forearm exercise really helps to prevent elbow pain during back and bicep workouts. This was part of a system I created that helped cure my tennis elbow permanently

You can strengthen your forearms all you want, but eventualy you will hit a wall. Most people simply can not grip 400 + lbs no matter how strong their forearms are. This is why almost all powerlifters use straps during exercises such as the deadlift. 

How to Use Wrist Straps.

Now let’s learn how to use these things. I’ll be using the Rip Toned Weightlifting Straps and a simple dumbbell to demonstrate.

1) Begin by orienting the straps so that the loops are on opposite ends.

How to use wrist straps (step 1)

2) Take the strap with the loop on the RIGHT side (this is usually the one with the logo facing right-side up) and place it over your LEFT had.

How to use wrist straps (step 2)

3) Run the end of the strap through the loop.

How to use wrist straps (step 4)

4) Tighten the strap by pulling the end through. The end of the strap should rest between your thumb and your pointer finger.

How to use wrist straps (step 4)

 

5) Take the strap with the loop on the LEFT side (this is usually the one with the logo facing up-side down) and place it over your RIGHT hand.

How to use wrist straps (step 5)

 

6) Just as we did with the left had, run the end of the strap through the loop, and tighten it by pulling.

How to use wrist straps (step 6)

7) The following steps are the same for both hands. Run the bottom side of the strap under the bar and wrap it around.

How to use wrist straps (step 7)

8) Wrap it around a second time.

How to use wrist straps (step 8)

9) Lay the end of the strap under your palms. Tighten your grip by rotating your hands forwards and back. This will be very intuitive when you actually try it our self.

How to use wrist straps (step 9)

This may seam complicated, but eventually you will get the hang of it and setting up will be like second nature.

Best Wrist Straps for Weightlifting.

The Cobra Grips PRO Weight Lifting Gloves are hands down the best wrist straps for weightlifting.

Allow me to explain.

Traditional, lasso style wrist straps (like the ones I used above) are a hassle to use. Sure, you might eventually get used the motion, but its still annoying as hell. And they only serve one purpose- to help you pull more weight.

What if you also need to use a grip pad or wrist wraps?

Cobra Grip solves all of these problems.

Instead of a strap, it incportates a heavy duty lifting hook. The function of a lifting hook is pretty self explanatory. It’s simply a plastic or metal extension that you just hook to the bar.

The benefit of a hook is that it saves you allot of time. I actually timed myself and found that I need about 12-15 seconds to use lasso styled lifting straps. Compare that to a second with power hooks.

Additionally, the Cobra Grip comes with a built in wrist wrap and a grip pad. That way you can protect your wrist and you’re palms without ever having to switch between equipment.

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Cobra Grips PRO Weight Lifting Gloves Heavy Duty Straps Alternative Power Lifting Hooks Best for Deadlifts Adjustable Neoprene Padded Wrist Wraps Support Bodybuilding (PRO Jet Black Rubber)
  • (REGISTERED PATENT No. # 2750562, USD752695S1 ) THE ONLY GEAR YOU NEED IN YOUR GYM BAG Replaces a grip pad, your lifting grips & power hooks
  • One SIZE Fits All With Adjustable Wrist Straps. Say Good BYE To WRIST WRAPS Our lifting grips have a built-in wrist support wrap for enhanced comfort
  • NO MORE SLIPS, NO MORE CHAFFING Provides ample padding to protect the palms & gives a tight grip
  • Our Cobra Grips PRO model fits wrist size from 5.5" up to 8.75" Most Men will find the PRO version to have a comfortable fit. Our Cobra Grips FIT Model fits wrist size from 4.25" up to 7.0" Many Women find the FIT version most comfortable. A TRULY COMFORTABLE FIT Fully adjustable 6mm neoprene gym glove alternative won't hold you back
  • PATENTED Ergonomically engineered with safety in mind; Maximum protection for the wrist TRADEMARK Reg. No. 5,025,077

Lifting Straps vs Wrist Wraps.

Lifting straps and wrist wraps tend to be confused allot.

Lifting straps are used to supplement grip. Where your grip might fail, lifting straps are what you need.

Wrist wraps, on the other hand, are used to prevent the possibility of injury when your wrists snap back too much from the force of the weight. When are your wrists especially prone to this? During the positive and negative phases of “push” exercises such as the bench press.

Lifting Straps

  • Used when: Your grip might give out. This happens during pulling movements.
  • To help: Pull more weight and prevent elbow pain.

Wrist Wraps

  • Used when: Your wrist might give out. This happens during pushing movements.
  • To help: Prevent too much excess wrist flexion.

If you need both, you can purchase the Manimal Wrist Wraps (my personal favorite) and Ripped Toned Lifting Straps and switch between the two. This option is best when you have dedicated days for “push” and “pull” movements.

If you happen to do both “push” and “pull” on the same day (perhaps you like full-body workouts), it might be better to get a pair of  Cobra Grips as you won’t have to switch between equipment.

Wrist Wraps for Olympic Weightlifting

Because Olympic weightlifting involves very dynamic movements, I highly suggest using a high quality wrist wrap for all exercises (except for deadlift). I’ve tried out many brands, and found that the Sling Shot Wrist Wrap provides (by far) the best support for your wrist. They are a bit pricy, but the quality is unparalleled by other brands.

Mike S.

Mike is the main contributor for Olympic Muscle. He is a full time college student majoring in computer science and biochemistry. When when not in school, Mike spends his time practicing his true passion in life— pushing heavy a** weight.
Mike S.

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