A very common question from new lifters is if they should use lifting straps at all. If you ask a question like this on most forums you will get pelted with insults from judgemental powerlifters who will call you a wuss for even daring to ASK such a “stupid question”. There claim is that you MUST build up grip strength.
I say poppycock. Unless you plan on competing in powerlifting, its STUPID to setback your physical development of your entire body simply because your grip isnt strong enough!
Gaining strength and building muscle mass requires that you push the limits of what your muscles can do. If you have to stop your weighted pullups because your grip gives out then your are leaving all kindz of lat gains behind. Same with pulling lifts using the olympic bar – if you have to stop because of your wrists then your muscles are not going get as big and strong as they would if you used straps.
Unless you want to compete in powerlifting, use those straps if you need them! If you are worried about wrist strength, fine, work that out separately when it wont interfere with your main workouts.
Gripping strength for the “real world”!
Many gym goers LOVE to support their strapless lifting by claiming that you need grip strength in the real world or your muscles are useless. Let me tell you, I have moved myself and friends many times and built two houses. When was the last time you needed grip strength to move a refrigerator? A sofa? A washing machine? These objects are always done with a palms up scooping motion. None of these objects have a 1″ knurled steel handldgrips for lifting.
I have built an airplane, and done all kinds of heavy shop work. I can tell you that pretty much the ONLY place that grip strength does you any good is in the gym. In my three decades of shop work and I can tell you that heavy objects almost NEVER come with convienient carrying handles. Lifting is done by palms up scooping, with strap cradles, or with mechanical assistance like shop cranes or with winches – not by gripping! Grip strength does you zero good when picking up a 500 pound vertical mill off the ground and setting it on a workbench. Grip strength does you no good at all when moving a 250 pound compressor. These objects are big, bulky, awkward, and dont have any good grips. Not only that, in the real world heavy objects are typically VERY expensive. You can drop that 405 pound bar if you get into trouble but how about my $18,000 airplane engine, are you going to drop that if you get into trouble? No! In the real world we cannot afford even the slightest chance of dropping an expensive object even if its because we stepped on our untied and dangling shoelace. Dropping is not an option in the real world.
Different kinds of lifting straps
OK, so now lets talk about what kind to use. gloves, gloves with hooks, cuff-straps, straps, and padded straps. First – NONE of these will prevent calluses. If you lift heavy weights you WILL get calluses – its taht simple. Cheap, simple, effective. $3 if you look hard. Padding waste of money.
How to use lifting straps
HOW to use them. Please see video, much easier to explain: