How to Use Olympic Weightlifting Straps (Guide w/ Pics)

Lifting straps can be a really effective tool in any lifter’s toolbox. Not only can they help secure your grip to the bar and help you move more weight, but they can also save your hands from high volume pulling. But first, you have to know how to use Olympic weightlifting straps.

If you’re brand new to using Olympic weightlifting straps, they can be a little confusing at first to use.

In this article, I’m going to cover why you would want to use lifting straps in the first place. Then I’ll explain to you step by step how to use them with some helpful pics along the way.

How do Weightlifting Straps Work?

Weightlifting straps work by securing the bar into your hands by taking much of the load off of your grip strength and by counteracting the natural rolling of the bar out of the hands.

Straps take some strain off the grip by securing itself to the wrist. The wrist then acts basically like a strong hook for the strap to hang off of. Every pound of pressure that is wedged into the wrist is weight that the grip doesn’t have to hold.

They also take strain off the grip by counteracting the natural roll out of the hand that the barbell wants to do when it’s held with an overhand grip. This is the same reason why an alternating grip (one hand over, one hand under) is stronger than an overhead grip.

Since grip strength is often the first point of failure in many heavy pulling movements, straps can help you move more weight for more reps.

How to Use Olympic Weightlifting Straps

How To Loop Lifting Straps
Under the bar first, under the bar first…

Putting on weightlifting straps and securing them to the bar isn’t a complicated process.

But, when you first start using straps, it’s pretty easy to make a few mistakes when trying get setup. Follow these steps and you’ll be strapping in like a pro in no time.

Step 1: Place the strap on your wrist so that the strap lays flat against the wrist with the point laying on your palm.

Step 2: Secure your first strap (generally most people will secure their non-dominant hand first, but it’s really up to you) to the bar by looping the strap under the bar first and then around back into the palm of your hand. Then twist the bar and re-grip a few times. Each time taking more and more slack out of the strap.

Note: Looping the strap over the bar first is BY FAR the most common mistake that I see new strap users make. If you loop over the bar first and then around, the strap will do absolutely nothing to help your grip.

It should be tight against the wrist when it’s in place. At this point, you should know that the first hand is easier than the second because you can use your other hand to help. (The second one is where it may take a little practice.)

Step 3: Secure your second strap with the other hand. You’ll have to use your fingers to help get the strap in a place where you can twist the bar and get it tight.

Two things to keep in mind. One, it does take a little bit to get the hang of securing your straps in place and getting a tight hold. So don’t get frustrated if you struggle getting the second strap tight at first. Second, if you have a brand new pair of straps, they will get easier to use the more you use them. This is because the strap will start to develop a curve the more you use it.

Step 4: To ‘un-strap’ from the bar, simply release your grip on the bar at any point in time. This is one of the unique qualities of a weightlifting strap over other types of straps.

Weightlifting straps are designed to be a quick release strap. This is critical in situations like missing a snatch catch behind you and needing to quickly and easily release your attachment to the bar.

Why Use Wrist Straps for Weightlifting?

Why even use lifting straps? What purpose do they serve?

There are two main reasons to use lifting straps.

First, to improve your ability to maintain your grip on the bar. If you ever find yourself struggling to hold onto the bar with heavy exercises that put a lot of strain on your grip (think heavy pulls, shrugs, deadlifts and rows) then straps can serve to help you maintain your grip.

Second, to protect your hands against a lot of pulling volume. Weightlifting can be really tough on your hands. All of the pulling movements of Olympic lifting can really tear up your hands. Ripped calluses are an ever-looming issue in weightlifting.

Using straps certain days or for certain exercises can take some volume off the hands and can help save your hands for the long run.

Are Straps Allowed in Olympic Weightlifting?

While weightlifting straps are allowed, and often encouraged in training, they are not allowed in competition.

This is why it’s important to be strategic about how and when you use weightlifting straps. Using them occasionally to help lift heavier weight than you might not otherwise can be a smart training move. Using straps to help save your hands from being chewed up also has its place.

However, if you ever plan on competing, make sure you don’t become reliant on straps. Straps can become a physical crutch, as well as a mental crutch if they are overused. You need to make sure that you are improving your grip strength so it’s not something that ever holds back your performance on a main lift.

The easiest way to improve your grip strength? Performing the lifts without straps.

Final Thoughts

Weightlifting straps are one of the best tools that a weightlifter can utilize if used correctly.

If you’re brand new to weightlifting straps, be patient, don’t get frustrated as you get used to using them. Also, give the straps time to ‘break in’ and form to your bar.

Make sure you don’t overdo it with wearing straps. Your grip is something that you can’t neglect if you want to increase your lifts.

Now that you know how to use weightlifting straps, are you looking to purchase a pair for yourself? I recommend you check out my article on the Best Lifting Straps. I tried out every strap that was recommended to me by my weightlifting friends and I give you my unbiased review on each one.

Stay Strong!


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