How to Choose the Best Weightlifting Straps – NBC US


Lifting straps are an essential gym bag item if you do any serious amount of deadlifting or pulling exercises. (And no, straps aren’t cheating if you know when to use them.) But there are several different types, and it’s important to match your straps to the type of lifting you do.

I own four types of straps (up from three when I originally wrote this article in 2021), and I love each for a different reason–except the lasso straps, I guess, which I don’t use very often anymore. As we’ll see, they’re a great all-around strap, but other types are more specialized to different jobs.

Why use lifting straps?

All types of lifting straps do the same job: They wrap around your wrists and around the barbell so that you can lift things without fatiguing your grip. You’ll sometimes see them called deadlift straps, because they’re great for deadlifts, or weightlifting straps, because you can use them when training for the sport of weightlifting.

Importantly: they are called straps and not wrist wraps. Wrist wraps are a totally different thing. Try to avoid calling them “wrist straps” even though technically they do go around your wrists; you’ll just be adding to the confusion.

Lasso straps are the best option if you don’t know what to get

Lasso style straps are the cheapest and simplest straps, and the one you’re most likely to find if you walk into a sporting goods store and ask for straps. Here’s a typical model, and you can see why they’re called lasso style. They have a loop, and you pass the other end of the strap through the loop.

You put your wrist through the looped part, and then wrap the long tail around the bar. Importantly, you want the loose part of the strap to go under the bar and wrap toward your fingers. This way, they aren’t just duplicating what your fingers are already doing.

Pros of lasso straps: They’re cheap, they work for any thickness of bar, and they hold well enough for most lifts most people want to do in the gym.

Cons of lasso straps: They take at least a few seconds to set up at the beginning of each lift and to unwrap at the end. They may also not be good enough for extremely heavy lifts, at which point, you should grab a pair of figure 8’s.

Some lasso straps to consider:

Figure 8’s are best for when shit gets real heavy

If you compete in strongman, you’ll want a set of figure 8’s. These straps are exactly what the name implies: a figure-8-shaped piece of material. You put your wrist through one half, pass the strap under the bar, and then put your wrist (same wrist) through the other half. Once your thumb is in position, your fingers can basically go on vacation. (Cerberus, which makes mine, has a video on their product page where powerlifter and strongman Benedikt Magnússon shows you exactly how to use them.)

You’ll know you need figure 8’s if you are lifting with lasso straps and they start to unroll on you. This happened to me way back when my best deadlift was somewhere around 250 pounds and I was doing high rack pulls with 315. My lasso straps just couldn’t keep up. I bought figure 8’s, and eventually pulled a whopping 395 pounds with them in competition. (It was an 18″ strongman deadlift; powerlifting doesn’t allow straps in meets but strongman sometimes does.)

Pros of figure 8 straps: It’s impossible for the bar to roll out of the straps.

Cons of figure 8 straps: They need to be sized for your wrists, with a standard sized barbell in mind. If you also want to use figure 8’s on an axle (a thick bar), you’ll need to buy a second pair in a bigger size.

Some figure 8 straps to consider:

Versa Gripps (and their competitors like Cobra Grips) are best for strapping up quickly

I got a pair of Versa Gripps when training for a lift that involves ring handles. It’s super annoying to wrap lasso straps around the rings, and figure 8’s didn’t fit right, either.

Versa Gripps were perfect, though. These straps have a velcro wristband, and then a short leather-ish strap that hangs down. You simply sandwich the bar between your hand and that grippy strap, and then cup your fingers underneath the strap to lock it in. These make it quick to strap up, and all you have to do to unstrap is let go.

Pros of wristband straps: Quick to strap up and unstrap; secure hold.

Cons of wristband straps: The name brands can be expensive. You also have a flap of material over your wrist, which makes it annoying to use your phone or write with a pen.

Some wristband style straps to consider:

Teardrop straps are best for a quick release

There’s one more common type: Olympic weightlifting straps, sometimes called teardrop straps. These are shorter than lasso straps, and they are simply a piece of webbing stitched together at one end. You put your wrist in the loop, and wrap the remainder around the bar like a lasso strap.

The advantage here is that you can release them quickly. Olympic weightlifters, who love to drop barbells and often need to suddenly drop barbells, will use them for deadlifts and pulls, and occasionally for snatches. (It’s not considered safe to use them for cleans, because you may get into a position where you can’t release them.)

If you do Olympic weightlifting, these are the kind you should get. If you do strongman, or if you just want the most secure grip possible, you should get figure 8’s. And if all this is confusing you, just grab a pair of lasso style straps and you’ll be fine.

Pros of teardrop straps: Quick release, cheap, slightly easier to set up than lasso straps.

Cons of teardrop straps: Not as secure as figure 8’s or as quick to set up as wristband straps.

Some teardrop straps to consider:

 



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