Weight lifting straps are a common sight in most gyms. Many people, from complete beginners right up to professional bodybuilders will use straps at some point in their training. When used correctly, straps can be an effective training tool, yet knowing what to look for when buying a pair of straps is very important.
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Weight lifting straps are long, thin pieces of material with a small hole in one end. Slip the material through the hole, forming a loop, through which you place your hand. Pull the strap tight, which will leave you with a long piece of the material hanging down. Wrap this piece around the barbell or dumbbell you will be lifting, keeping your hand close to it, until there is no excess material left. The majority of the strap should now be wrapped between your hand and the weight.
The two most common materials used to make weight lifting straps are nylon and leather. Leather straps tend to be more durable and comfortable, yet are usually more expensive. Nylon straps are much cheaper, but won't last as long, and can dig into your wrists if they are tightened too much. A good-quality pair of leather straps, such as the APT Pro Wrist Wraps, will cost around $27, while a pair of nylon lifting straps start at around $18.
Most straps will be an inch wide, but will vary in length between 18 and 36 inches. If you have smaller wrists and hands, then a 20 to 24 inch strap will be most appropriate. If you have larger wrists and hands, or plan on doing any training with fat bars or enlarged grip objects, then choose a longer strap.
While straps can be very useful if you have weak or small wrists and forearms, and have poor grip strength, the Poliquin Group offers cautionary advice. Straps can be safely used on lifts where there's a quick release like snatches and power snatches; but should not be used for cleans. If you lose your balance, the straps could trap your hands and damage your wrists. If you are a competing athlete or powerlifter, you should avoid the use of weight lifting straps as they are not permitted in competition. Focus on training your grip instead.