Everybody and their mother seems to have a different set of rules on when to use lifting straps.
Some people say to never use it for anything under 200 lbs, some say to never use it as it destroys your grip strength.
In this article, I will be covering all of that. So, here’s the verdict on when to use lifting straps:
You should use lifting straps when your back and legs can support the weight, but your grip can’t. This means that your grip strength is purely the weakest link in the chain. I would generally recommend straps for any weight above 275 lbs. And don’t forget to do isolation exercises with your grip later.
- Sometimes Your Back/Legs Become Stronger Than Your Grip Can, Then It’s Time To Use Straps
- Use Lifting Straps on Deadlifts Above 275 Lbs
- Exercises to Use Lifting Straps On
- When Not to Use Lifting Straps
- Don’t Forget To Work Out Your Forearms Later
- Conclusion of When To Use Straps
Sometimes Your Back/Legs Become Stronger Than Your Grip Can, Then It’s Time To Use Straps
Sometimes your back and legs become stronger than your grip can. This is natural.
Your grip and forearms are just well- much smaller than the other two MASSIVE muscle groups in your body.
Because of this, you may find yourself at a point in your lifting career where you simply can’t get this weight off the ground because of your grip- even if you know you have the strength for it.
Some examples of this are people that can squat 400 lbs, but only deadlift 300 lbs. It is very clear that their grip strength is lagging behind.
(by the way, your deadlift should usually always be higher than your squat-if not, you may have a grip strength issue)
Now, when things like this happen- the straps are needed.
I can tell you time and time again- straps work. I will go up to the barbell with 375 lbs on it, and I won’t be able to lift it as my forearms give out and drop the weight. Then, I put straps on- and I can do it for reps.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that- the deadlift ISN’T an exercise designed to work your forearms. It’s an exercise to work your legs and back.
Your forearms are merely a means to get there. Any amount of forearm isolation work will grow your forearms much faster than doing deadlifts.
Because of this, it’s okay to use straps to get that weight up. It’s literally not cheating because the lift isn’t designed to grow your forearms.
Now, when you find yourself in a spot where your forearms are just seriously holding you back- it’s time to strap up.
The straps are designed to secure the barbell in your grip and give your grip that much-needed support to lift the barbell up.
For the most part, once you get the barbell OFF the ground and start lifting it, your grip strength doesn’t become a problem, your back and legs start to take over. But- getting the barbell off the ground is the hardest part, so straps come in handy to make sure you can get that lift up.
Use Lifting Straps on Deadlifts Above 275 Lbs
My personal advice: use lifting straps on deadlifts above 275 lbs.
I think for most people, 275 lbs is about that range where straps are almost needed.
As an EMT, I tend to err on the side of safety in the gym. There’s no reason we need to injure ourselves. That’s from a health point of view AND training point of view.
You realize if you injure yourself- you won’t be able to train for months on end. No injury is worth it.
At that weight, you start risking injury to your arms if you aren’t using straps- let’s just be honest here. No need for that whole ‘tough guy’ stuff.
Sure, some people are able to lift 400 lbs on the deadlift without straps- but is any of that risk of injury really necessary?
I instead opt for the approach of using straps, but still working out your forearms separately to ensure your grip strength isn’t lagging behind.
Furthermore, using those straps will STILL grow your forearms. I’ve never understood this concept. You need to expose your arms to that higher stimulus for it to grow, and using straps on much higher weight will still get some forearm muscle to grow.
Exercises to Use Lifting Straps On
Now, lifting straps aren’t something you really use on something like a bench press or overhead press. There are actually very few exercises you should use lifting straps on.
You typically want to use lifting straps on:
- Barbell Rows
- Non competition power cleans.
Although, most people will opt to only use straps on deadlifts- it’s not the only exercise they can be used for!
When Not to Use Lifting Straps
So there are some instances where you do not want to use lifting straps.
For example, it’s a bad idea to use lifting straps on exercises where you are trying to work out your forearms. If you’re doing farmer’s carries- don’t use the straps- the whole goal is to make your grip strength stronger.
Yes, it is true- straps will reduce the muscle growth in your forearms. While it doesn’t completely eliminate it- when you’re trying to specifically grow your forearms it just becomes an obstacle.
You also shouldn’t use straps on movements like bench press, overhead press, pull-ups, curls, tricep exercises, et cetera.
Don’t Forget To Work Out Your Forearms Later
If you’re using straps, you’ll need to remember to work on your forearms later.
As aforementioned, straps will reduce your forearm and grip strength growth.
To counter this, you will want to work out your forearms with some isolation work just to make sure you’re staying on track with your goals as a bodybuilder.
Straps Can Only Do So Much
I hate to say it, but the people that say ‘straps are cheating’ are just simply incorrect.
Straps can only do so much and CANNOT replace poor grip strength. If you keep just using straps without working your forearms, you will eventually plateau and you won’t be able to get the bar off the ground- even with the straps on!
So, remember to work out your forearms and keep the muscle growth going.
Conclusion of When To Use Straps
So? The bottom line. When your grip strength finally reaches its’ limit, or you start pulling some super heavyweight- get the straps on.
But, don’t forget to work your forearms out separately- as straps will reduce forearm growth from your deadlifts and rows.
Good luck out there!