Are lifting straps a worthwhile investment or do they make your grip weaker?
Some people swear by them and others think they should never be used!
Here we go over the pros and cons of training with and without lifting straps in the gym.
Training Without Lifting Straps
When training without the assistance of lifting straps it forces us to grip the bar, dumbbell or lifting attachment with a lot of force - particularly when using heavy weight.
Over time this can lead to a vastly improved grip and overall forearm development, so for those who could really benefit from a strong grip e.g. strongmen competitors - training without straps and improving grip strength will most likely be a high priority.
However, those who are not training for such competitions for example e.g. those training for aesthetics may not be able to use weight that is heavy due to the grip being the weak link.
A good example could be deadlifts, shrugs and other grip intensive back based exercises. By not using lifting straps, it may be difficult to really develop the back.
Training With Lifting Straps
When training with lifting straps, back exercises become more back focused. This is because the back is doing the work and the forearms/arms are largely taken out of the lift, instead the hands are acting more like hooks because the straps are taking the weight which is then channelled to the back muscles.
When doing barbell rows for example, our grip sometimes does not last long when using heavy weight and so we need to put the barbell down to rest our forearms. This is not working efficiently if the back is the targeted muscle group - sure we can improve the grip over time however that’s time our back is missing out.
Additionally, it’s not like we don’t have the opportunity to train our forearms during the rest of the week - the thing with our forearms is that we don’t really have much choice in using them for most exercises!
‘Getting a Grip’ On the Issue
In closing, using lifting straps is largely dependent on your situation. If you find that your back development is lagging, then perhaps using lifting straps on back day for example could prove useful.
If you need (or want) a strong grip, not using straps and incorporating grip strength training could be something of interest!
Some top quality Schiek lifting straps: