To some, getting a workout in at the gym on a regular basis is a simple way to blow off some steam and elevate their heart rate before hitting the spa or the sauna afterwards. For others, it is a way of life and a way to reach their goals in terms of strength, explosive power, and muscle size.
However, if you are training diligently and pushing yourself in the gym in search of a killer physique or that new squat PR, you are also increasing the chance of injury or CNS fatigue. Here is how and why you should use wrist straps at the gym to crush your goals and set new personal bests quickly.
What Are They and When Should You Wear Them?
Wrist straps should be a staple of your gym gear, along with your knee and elbow sleeves, your weightlifting belt, and your squat shoes. These are made of rubber padding and thick, heavy-duty cotton you can wrap around a barbell, a dumbbell handle, or a machine attachment for extra grip support during your heavy pulling movements.
That said, wrist straps are best utilized on your strength days or strength sets, when the weight becomes heavy enough to compromise your grip strength and stability. By wrapping the straps around the barbell, you are preventing it from slipping out of your hands, thus being able to lift more weight without fearing whether or not your grip will give out.
Proper Use and Hand Positioning
Using the straps is easy enough, although many gym goers tend to do it wrong without realizing that they are sacrificing precious pounds. There are several ways you can put them on, and you should experiment with each until you find your best fit.
Depending on how you put them on, the strap will be travelling across your hand to your pinky, or across your hand to your thumb. You can then wrap it around the barbell in either direction, however you should be able to cover the entire wrapped surface with your palm for maximum grip strength.
Types of wrist straps
There are plenty of durable gym wrist straps you can choose nowadays, some of them plain and simple, and some of them made in interesting color patterns and designs. The three basic types are loop straps, hook straps, and speed straps.
Loop straps are the most commonly used, as they provide enough control and grip strength to pull the heaviest of lifts. Hook straps are a bit more advanced in design and you don’t need to wrap them around a barbell, although you might be sacrificing some grip strength. Lastly, speed straps are most commonly used in Olympic weightlifting, however they have less material overall, meaning you are at risk of dropping the weight.
Allowing you to push your limits
This simple piece of equipment is designed to make you test and push your limits on those heavy lifts, reaching for new strength PRs. But that is not all they’re good for. When doing high volume work, going for muscle hypertrophy and failure, straps can be invaluable.
High-rep sets can be extremely tiring to the forearms and grip, making you drop the weight before you’ve actually had the chance to reach your final repetition. Using straps will prove useful in eliminating the grip from the equation and allowing your targeted muscles to do all the work.
Staying safe throughout the workout
Finally, safety should be your number one priority in the gym, if you intend to stay in the lifting game long-term. As you progress and become stronger, you are also increasing the risk of injuring yourself, particularly during heavy deadlifts.
When your grip weakens, the bar starts rolling out of your hands, and in a chained reaction, your form starts to break, beginning with the rolling of the shoulders, and the bending of your lower back. Straps will help the bar stay firmly in your palms, decreasing the risk of injury.
You might have thought of yourself as a gym “purist” but in reality, you need proper lifting gear to reach your fitness goals. Be sure to use wrist straps to safely increase the weight on the bar and ensure a long and thriving lifting career.