The bench press can put a lot of strain on your wrists and demands a strong grip. Wrist wraps can help stabilize your grip and support your wrists to reduce the risk of injury. Wrists wraps come in various designs; some are single straps that are simply secured around your wrists with hook-and-loop fasteners. Other wraps include a loop for your thumb and hanging straps that are wrapped taut around the barbell, which tightens the grip between your hand and the bar.
The moment you lift the barbell from its rack to do bench presses, the entire weight of the barbell and plated weights rests on your wrists. Proper form for the bench press dictates that your wrists not be bent back but remain straight and in line with your forearms. This positions the barbell across the bottom part of your palm rather then the top near your fingers. Wrist wraps can help you maintain proper form by supporting and stabilizing your wrists. This also helps reduce the risk of injury and joint damage.
Wrist wraps optimize your bench presses by improving your grip on the barbell. A weak grip can often lead to fewer repetitions. Securing your grip through wrist wrap helps you focus more on executing repetitions without having to worry about your grip loosening. This translates into more efficient workouts and greater muscle development since the bulk of your energy will be spent on exercising your chest and upper back rather then stabilizing your wrists.
Do not rely on wrist wraps too much for bench presses. Aim to perform sets using lighter weight during certain workouts to help build your wrist strength. Incorporate other wrist-strengthening exercises as well, such as barbell wrist curls. If you use wrist supports every time you perform bench presses or other exercises, your wrist strength development lags the other muscles that are being developed without any support.
If you experience pain when doing bench presses without wrist supports, try doing the exercise with wrist supports. Ensure that you are using the proper grip on the barbell. If the exercise is still painful with wrist wraps and a proper grip, stop exercising and give yourself at least 24 hours of rest. Should the pain persist into the next workout, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Wrist pain could indicate a number of problems, and lifting heavy weights can exacerbate the situation. It is not recommended to work through any kind of pain.