Bodybuilding Straps / Wraps
What are they?
Lifting accessory that wraps around your wrist and loop around the bar, dumbbell or machine to make it easier to hold onto the weight during a set without your grip strength giving out.
How and when to use them?
It’s my advice that any and all bodybuilders and athletes competing in physique based sports should be using straps any time they train back, traps and some shoulder and hamstring exercises.
Key exercises to wear straps on: dumbbell or barbell rows, deadlifts, rack pulls, pullups, pulldowns stiff leg deadlifts, shrugs.
You don’t have to use them on every back exercise, but you can. Some people prefer to wear them for about 75-80% of the workout and take them off for 20-25% for some grip strength/forearm activation.
You also don’t need them on any type of pushing movement. So don’t be that guy/girl.
Why are they necessary?
In some sports i.e. powerlifting and strength-based events, wearing straps would be considered ‘cheating’ because you can’t wear them on the day of the competition and that makes total sense – train under the same conditions you will be required to compete in.
On the other hand, as bodybuilders/physique athletes our grip strength is never tested, forearms don’t win shows and Popeye isn’t the ideal standard for aesthetics. Wearing straps can only benefit the bodybuilder for a few reasons.
1. Get more reps to fatigue your back/traps/shoulders with when your grip strength would normally give out on you.
2. Push yourself with heavier weights you wouldn’t normally try to lift for sets of 6-8. Having the straps can turn a set that would have been 3 turn into 6 or 7 reps.
3. More reps with heavier weights = more muscle…i.e. the purpose of our sport for most categories.
4. Prevent your forearms from prematurely pumping up and essentially ruining your back workout.
5. Better isolate the lats, traps, teres major, delts and hamstrings more effectively when you’ve taken much of the forearms out of the equation. Many clients have difficulty already isolating their lats on many exercises; why make it harder by lifting raw.
Wearing straps doesn’t make you less of a beast in the gym. If anything you’ll be lifting 20-50 more pounds, looking like even more of a beast.
Your forearms will always be the weak link on any back exercise. Think of the size of your back and how much strength and power it can generate. Now think of your forearms and what they are capable of handling. Your forearms will always fatigue first and not wearing straps is doing an injustice to your back training.
My preference for these to save wrapping time and also durability are versa-grips. Standard cloth wraps are fine, but once you’ve tried versa grips, it’s tough to go back to the basic wraps – you’ll find them to be a hassle and a time waster when you’re just trying to lift.