lifting straps vs wrist wraps

Lifting Straps vs Wrist Wraps – What’s The Difference?

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With so many lifting accessories available, it can become quite confusing what some are used for, especially if you are fairly new to the gym.

One of the most common confusions is between lifting straps and wrist wraps, most likely because they look alike and their names are easy to confuse.

It is time to understand what lifting straps and wrists are used for and what the difference is between the two so that you can use them as effectively as possible.

What Is The Difference Between Lifting Straps And Wrist Wraps?

The main difference between the two is their purpose. Lifting Straps are used as hooks for pulling exercises such as deadlifts, pull-ups, or barbell rows, while wrist wraps are used to keep the wrists in a neutral position under heavyweight for pushing exercises such as bench press or military press.

As you progress in your lifting journey, you may reach a point where grip strength can no longer keep up with muscle capability. What will happen? Your grip will fail before your muscles do. 

This means that you don’t lift effectively and leave gains on the table. This is a great moment to start using lifting straps, as they will help you overcome your natural grip limits, allowing you to lift heavier.

On the other hand, the main function of wrist wraps is to keep your wrists in a neutral position. Imagine an exercise like the bench press. As you warm up, keeping your wrist upright is an easy task. As you add weight, keeping them straight becomes more and more difficult until you reach a point where the weight does not allow you to keep your wrist in a neutral position. 

This is not effective at all. Your stabilizing muscle groups in your forearms cannot keep up, so the other muscle groups involved, such as your pecs, shoulders, triceps, and back, must compensate for this.

In this situation, the wrist wraps will act as a second layer of support for the wrists, allowing you to use the muscles more effectively.

How To Use Lifting Straps

Straps are very easy to use. Once you manage to use them once, it will be a flawless process.

  • Find the loop and insert the loose end through it
  • Put them on your hand so that the padding stays on top and the strap is facing the same way as your thumb
  • Put your hand on the bar, place the strap underneath the bar and wrap it around

(Tip: Start with your non-dominant hand first, as it is easier to do this with one hand if it’s the dominant one.)

  • Once you have both arms placed on the bar, to tighten them, pull them down as if the bar is the throttle of a motorcycle
  • When you’re done, simply open your palms to unwrap the straps

Our Favorite Lifting Straps

The Harbinger Padded Cotton Lifting Straps are a great option if you are looking for a pair. They are cheap, have a decent length (21.5 inches), are incredibly durable, and have an excellent design.

How To Use Wrist Wraps

  • To find out which one is for the right hand and which one is for the left, the easiest clue is that the loop should line up with the thumb
  • Put your thumb through the loop so that the wrap is at the back of your hand
  • Start wrapping it from the base of your hand and continue with your wrist

(Tip: Start with the first wrap at about 70% of maximum tightness and continue so that the last layer is almost as tight as possible.)

Our Favorite Wrist Wraps

It’s easy to notice a good pair of wrist wraps. They must be long enough, not too elastic, have a quality Velcro closure, and be made of durable materials. For example, The Harbinger Red Line 18-inch Wrist Wraps meet all the requirements and also have a good price.


Can You Use Lifting Straps For The Bench Press?

Lifting straps are not useful when it comes to bench press, as grip strength is not the issue here. Lifting straps are great for pulling exercises such as chin-ups and deadlifts, but for a pushing exercise as the bench press, wrist wraps are the best option.

Can You Use Lifting Straps For Pull-Ups?

If you think your grip strength is the limiting factor when it comes to pull-ups, then a pair of lifting straps could definitely be helpful.

Are Lifting Straps Cheating?

Using lifting straps does not mean cheating. If your main goal is hypertrophy, lifting straps are an excellent tool that you can use to enhance your training by taking your grip strength out of the equation, allowing you to better focus on the targeted muscles.  Lifting straps can also be used if grip strength is the limiting factor when it comes to an exercise, especially for high-rep sets.  However, if your goal is to become stronger, or if you are competing in a sport that does not allow wearing straps, you should train your grip strength directly, as it takes some time to gain a strong grip naturally.

Do Wrist Wraps Help With Deadlifts?

Grip strength is a potential problem when it comes to deadlifts. In this case, lifting straps are a good solution, but you can also start training your grip strength by incorporating specific exercises into your routine or using a grip strengthener. The wrist wraps don’t help with deadlifts, as their purpose is to keep the wrists in a neutral position for pushing exercises.

Do Wrist Wraps Increase Bench Press?

While bench pressing, if you can not keep your wrists in a neutral position, it means that the stabilizing muscle groups in the forearms are not strong enough to hold the weight. In this case, other muscle groups must compensate, which will prevent you from working effectively. Wrist wraps can help keep your wrists straight, allowing you to lift more weight.

When Should You Use Wrist Wraps?

You can use lifting straps when your grip starts to give way, for the most difficult sets of pulling exercises, for heavy pulling exercises (such as rack pulls), when your grip is the limiting factor for a lift or if you want to take the grip out of the equation and focus on the targeted muscles. 

Lifting straps aren’t necessarily every time, but if you use them regularly, it’s recommended that you add additional grip strength training to your routine.

When Should You Use Wrist Wraps?

Wrist wraps are great for pushing exercises when you can’t keep your wrists in a neutral position. You can use them as an extra layer of support for harder sets to make sure your wrists remain stable throughout the exercise. 

Just like lifting straps, wrist wraps are not necessarily every time, but they can be a powerful tool to use to your advantage.