One of the major roadblocks you may face with increasing your weightlifting PRs is grip strength. Grip strength can be built over time the more you workout, but it becomes increasingly more important the heavier you lift. Especially for deadlifts, grip strength is pivotal for increasing those PRs. Best use cases:
- Deadlifts (sumo, conventional, Romanian)
- RDLs (dumbbell or barbell)
- Back rows (dumbbell or barbell)
There are a few tactics you can use to improve your grip strength on deadlift. An alternate grip (one hand over the bar, one hand below the bar) can help, but as you get into heavier lifts, there is a higher risk of injury, especially with the bicep.
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Chalk can also help your grip, and whether you use a conventional grip (both hands over the bar) or an alternate grip, chalk will help keep the barbell from sliding out of your hands as you pull and hold. Chalk helps with many other lifts too, particularly with heavier weight on olympic lifts.
And finally, there are lifting straps. Lifting straps are probably the most commonly used equipment for seriously improving grip strength on deadlift because they are super easy to use and don’t have the injury risk associated as highly as alternate grips at higher weight.
What are lifting straps?
Deadlifting straps are used by powerlifters and weightlifters to keep their grip on the barbell when performing the deadlift. Deadlifting straps enable lifters to have more control over their grip and reduce any risk of injury to their wrists or arms.
They are typically made from either cloth, leather, or nylon. They fold over your wrist and around the barbell to improve grip strength and to prevent your hands from slipping off of the bar.
Why do you need lifting straps?
Lifting straps help you hold on to heavy weights when your hands start to slip. They wrap around your wrist so that you can keep holding on even when your grip starts to weaken. This results in two major benefits: improved grip strength, and reduced risk of injury. The heavier you lift overtime, the more important grip strength and injury prevention become.
How to use lifting straps
It can take a few workouts to really get used to the flow of taking straps on and off, but once you make them part of your routine it’s like second nature. To put them on, slide the bottom end through the big loop, pulling it through so there are a few inches of strap pulled through. You’ll then place them over your hand and on your wrist, with the large remaining strap draped over the outer edge of the palm of your hand. Then, you’ll reach down and put the bar between your hand and strap, pulling the wrap up and over the bar from the outside in. Do it the same way (using one hand or help from someone) for your opposite hand.
Once it’s wrapped around once, that’s really all you need. You can wrap it twice around the bar if that feels more comfortable, but once you have pulled it taught, you are ready to lift.
Here is a great tutorial video that shows step-by-step how to put on your straps.
No matter the weightlifting equipment you use, your form will always be king in helping you improve your lifts and hit your goals. Equipment can certainly help, but avoid using straps, belts, and sleeves as a crutch for bad form. Your body will thank you when you’re 80.