3 Lifting Straps to Help You Reach Your Next Weight Room PR

Do you ever struggle to get a grip in the weight room? If you’ve been lifting for long enough, you’ve probably reached a point in your training where you’ve attempted a rep and found that the muscle groups you were targeting had the strength to pull it off, but you just couldn’t keep hold of the bar.

There are solutions that can help you to get a grip. You can switch up your hand position for exercises like deadlifts, shifting from pronated (overhand) grip to alternating grip, with one hand overhand and one under, or you could add chalk to cut down on any sweaty palms. But the most effective grip hack you can try would be to slide on a pair of lifting straps before your set.

Lifting straps are an important tool in a serious weightlifter’s arsenal—without their extra support, your grip strength can limit you from progressing on heavier pulls (like rows or deadlifts) or snatches.

“You’re able to overload the major muscle groups—hips, back, and legs—by putting straps on,” says Scott Caulfield, CSCS, head strength and conditioning coach at the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Lifting straps, which are typically made of cotton, nylon, or leather, come in three main forms to wrap around your wrist and the weights: a closed loop, a lasso, or a figure-eight. The type you choose will largely depend on your personal preference.

But no matter what, you shouldn’t be using straps if you’re just starting out on your weightlifting journey. “I would recommend that only intermediate and advanced people use straps,” Caulfield says, “because when you’re first starting out, you should be trying to get as strong as possible without adding any assistance.”

Sean Waxman, CSCS, owner of Waxman’s Gym in Los Angeles, agrees. “As a beginner, the volume and the intensity that you’re training at shouldn’t be so up to the point where you need extra support,” he says. “I think once an athlete moves into a little bit more of an advanced stage, when the volume and the intensity and the frequency of training increases, it’s prudent to wear things like wrist straps.” (One piece of gear that’ll help your lifts at any level: proper weightlifting shoes.)

Importantly, straps serve a different purpose than lifting grips or gloves. Those tools put a layer of material between your palms and the bar to help you hold on and protect your skin from rips. Straps do that too—but they’re also wrapped around the bar, adding extra support.

If you’re a dedicated lifter who’s ready to make major muscle gains, here’s what you need to know about the three types of weightlifting straps.

Closed loop lifting straps


A closed loop lifting strap—which is, as it sounds, just a loop made of material—is the best for Olympic lifts, where you’ll need to be able to release the bar quickly to get it over head. This also makes it the least secure of the strap types. To attach a closed loop strap on the bar, you’ll need to wrap it around your wrist then feed the hanging end around the bar. We’re fans of leather straps for this category for a grippier feel, particularly the Stoic Lifting Wrist Straps ($20, amazon.com), which are durable, not too bulky, and offer you the ability to hold onto any barbell while being able to release it easily, as in Olympic lifting.

Lasso lifting straps


A lasso strap has a wrist loop that attaches around your wrist and then a piece that wraps around the bar. It can be looped multiple times for a tighter grip on the barbell. This is the most common and versatile type of wrist strap, and good for both casual lifting and pushing past PRs. “The closed loop and the lasso are similar” in their utility, says Waxman, and it usually comes down to personal preference. The Harbinger Padded Cotton Lifting Straps ($12, amazon.com) offer extended length for the part that wraps around the bar (21.5 inches) for a tighter grip, and extra padding around the wrists for safety and comfort.

Figure-eight lifting straps

Serious Steel Fitness

A figure-eight strap loops around your wrist, goes under the barbell, and then wraps around your wrist again. It can only be wrapped around the bar once, so they’re not very versatile, but are usually bulky and very secure. If you’re trying to max out a deadlift, they’re your best option. “It only should be used if there’s somewhere where you’re not in a situation where you have to quickly release the bar, as in Olympic lifting,” Waxman says. “But in heavy lifts, it definitely takes more of the stress out of the hand. You’re looping the strap around the bar, and both ends are hooked onto your wrist.” The meaty and durable Serious Steel Fitness Figure 8 Straps ($24, amazon.com) are our favorites here, made from genuine leather, offer plenty of support, and come in a variety of sizes for different wrists.

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