If you’ve been hanging out around the gym (even if you mainly train at home!) long enough, you’ve probably seen some guys (usually bigger, more “experienced”-looking guys) slip on some odd-looking “straps” before certain lifts.
No, we’re not talking about CrossFit grips (although these are a pretty common sight as well!), but about straps that they’re actually “attaching” to their barbells.
Yeah…yeah…you’ve seen those before. Heck, you’ve probably thought about using them before!
Today, we’re going to discuss these small, but extremely useful gym accessories and, most importantly, teach you how to use deadlift straps.
Let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
What Are Deadlift Straps?
Deadlift straps, or lifting straps, are cotton, nylon, or leather straps that can help you with difficult deadlifts or other heavy lifts (oftentimes ones where your grip is likely to give out before your “strength” goes!) They create a safe, stable connection between your hands and the barbell (or, in some cases, the dumbbells, or kettlebells) and enhance your grip. Deadlift straps consist of a strap with a loop on one end, which you wrap around your hand and the barbell.
Bob Peoples popularized (and possibly invented) lifting straps in the 1940s. He was a world champion powerlifter who established deadlift world records a couple of times, with a maximum pull of 725lbs at 181lbs bodyweight in 1949. It is believed that 9 years before that he came up with an idea about how to list more during training. His initial deadlift straps prototype was constructed of metal materials.
The popularity of lifting straps grew afterward, thanks to a couple of names such as Peary Rader (a bodybuilder, Olympic lifter, writer, and editor of Iron Man magazine), Joseph J. Meeko (who patented more developed straps in 1984), and various famous lifters who were using lifting straps for better performance in training.
Now, using lifting straps is, by some, considered to be a “crutch”. In powerlifting competitions, (as well as in Olympic weightlifting competitions, CrossFit competitions, etc.), listing straps are prohibited. However, lifting straps, whether they are used to practice technique or to work on overall strength when grip is failing, are excellent training tools…which simply can’t be used in formal competitions.
Should You Use Straps For Deadlifting?
Barbell positioning and grip strength are yuge factors that can influence how much (and how well) you move the barbell during lifting sessions. If you know how to use deadlift straps, they can help you lift the bar and not lose control of the bar in situations where the grip is the limiting factor. A strong grip means better control of the bar, which is important for a successful lift and avoiding injuries.
Lifting straps have various benefits for weightlifters and powerlifters:
- They decrease grip fatigue, which allows you to focus on your lifting form and technique.
- Beneficial for high-volume training sessions, which are more challenging for your grip, by allowing you to lift more weight and perform more reps.
- Can help in injury prevention during the lift since they strengthen and secure your grip.
However, this doesn’t mean you should use lifting straps all the time. You need to build innate grip strength (in addition to, ya know, actually knowing how to use deadlift straps). Almost like how you shouldn’t use a weightlifting belt on every set, lifting straps should be used at times…but not all the time.
How To Use Deadlift Straps: Step-By-Step Guide
Setting up and using lifting straps is pretty straightforward…if you’re used to it. On your first couple of times, it can be a little tricky.
I can still remember my first ever weightlifting coach, good old Jesus in Arucas, Spain, chuckling as he watched me struggle.
“It is always funny watching the newbs with their straps,” he said, eventually showing me a quick and easy way to set them up!
I’ll take the place of Jesus now and help you along. You don’t want to look like a newb when your time comes to learn how to use deadlift straps…right?
Step 1: Set up the straps
Hold the strap, take the bottom of the strap (the end without the loop), and feed it through the loop from the inside out. Repeat the same with the second strap. The straps should have opposite aiming, so take care of that when setting them up.
Step 2: Fit the straps on your hands
Put your hand through the loop you created so the long part of the strap lines up with the lines on your palm and goes between your thumb and index finger. The short angle of the outer side of the loop should be where your thumb goes. Do the same with the other hand.
Step 3: Place your hand on the bar
Open the hand and place it on your barbell so the bar is between the hand and the long part of the strap.
Step 4: Wrap the strap around the bar
Wrap the strap around the bar from the outside, place the palm on the top of the strap, and grab the bar. Although you can wrap the strap a few times around the bar, once is usually enough. You can use the other hand to help you with wrapping the strap, but you will need to learn to do it in the one-handed manner with the second (this is probably the hardest part!)
Step 5: Pull
Pull slightly up and back so the strap is locked in tightly under your hands. Make sure that the strap isn’t loose because the barbell will jump forward before it comes up. If everything is in order…lift!
How to use Deadlift Straps – Figure 8-style Straps
There is a special kind of lifting strap called the Figure 8 strap. It has a number 8 shape and it loops all the way around the bar and connects to your hand. This provides better control and connection to the bar. Figure 8 straps are a good choice for deadlifts because they stop you from releasing the bar too quickly and make the unwrapping easier and faster.
Here is how to set up and use your Figure 8 lifting straps:
- Step 1: Put your hand through one loop and place it on the top of the barbell.
- Step 2: Feed the other loop under the bar
- Step 3: Place your hand through it from the top of the bar.
- Step 4: Do the same with the other hand.
- Step 5: Grip the bar with your hands so the straps are tight on the outer edges of your hands.
- Step 6:Lift!
How To Choose Deadlift Straps
There are several factors you should consider when buying lifting straps:
Look for the straps with tight stitching. These will be durable and sturdy. Avoid stretchy and loose straps. Also, you should choose the textured stripes for more traction.
Some straps come with a lock mechanism which prevents the strap from unwrapping accidentally.
Lifting straps are usually made of 3 types of material: leather, cotton, and nylon. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
- Leather straps are the most durable and stable, but can be rougher on the skin.
- Cotton straps are extremely comfortable, but not as durable.
- Nylon straps are more durable and quickly release the barbell, but they don’t absorb sweat as cotton straps.
Some models are made of other synthetic materials such as neoprene and polyester, with similar features as nylon. Plus, there are some made of mixed material, and padded straps with a cushioned layer for extra comfort.
Here are our top picks of straps for your deadlifts:
- Rogue Heavy Duty Figure 8 Lifting Straps (Best Figure 8)
- Cerberus Strength Dual-Ply Lifting Straps (Best Cotton)
- Rogue Treated Leather Straps (Best Leather)
- Cerberus Strength USA Elite Figure 8 Lifting Straps (Best Synthetic)
- Rogue Ohio Lifting Straps (Best Nylon)
- Warm Body Cool Mind Lasso Lifting Wrist Straps (Best Mixed Material)
- Fygl Lifting Wrist Straps for Weight Lifting (Best Padded)
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s address some commonly asked questions about deadlift straps.
If you are just developing your grip strength, you should avoid exclusively using lifting straps. It’s essential to develop your natural grip strength and technique. Still, if you are focusing on higher reps instead of building a strong grip, you might find straps useful to avoid fatigue and injuries.
Deadlifting/lifting straps make excellent additions to your fitness accessory collection. If you’re finding that your overall strength is a bit stronger than your grip (no shame if it is…this describes me!), slipping on some straps before your heaviest lifts makes sense.
You want to get stronger? You must lift heavier weights.
However, lifting straps won’t make you He-man over night and, for the reasons discussed above, you shouldn’t become overly reliant on lifting straps. As much as we’d like to see someone bust out a 1500-pound deadlift or 500-pound snatch that they wouldn’t have been able to pull off without straps…well…it’s not gonna happen (at least not in competition!)
Once you learn how to use deadlift straps, use them when it makes sense…which doesn’t translate to “never leave home without ’em!”
Now that you know all about how to use deadlift straps and how much they can help your lifts, take a look at our deep dive into (strap-less) deadlift standards. Are you an “average” lifter or are do you have an “elite” pull…even without straps?