Buying your first pair of lifting straps can end up becoming way more complicated than you might expect.
You’ve seen other lifters use straps in the gym to help them improve their grip and lift heavier weights. Now, you want to get a pair of your own. Maybe you ask a buddy for advice or do some Googling to figure out what kind of straps you should get.
Now you’re trying to figure out the difference between a closed loop weightlifting strap and open loop straps. What’s a lasso strap? What about Figure 8s? Are these all different or are some of them the same?
Most importantly, what type of lifting strap is best for you? After reading this article, you’ll know the difference between the 4 different types of lifting straps and which type is best for you.
Let’s get started.
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The 4 Different Types of Lifting Strap
All lifting straps share a few common characteristics. They’re designed to loop around your wrist and then around the bar, greatly increasing your grip strength on the bar (or a dumbbell).
They’re made of a tough, durable material – usually nylon or sometimes thick cotton.
The differences in the types of lifting straps come in the design and performance of each strap. Which one is best really just depends on what you’re wanting to use them for.
The 4 different types are:
- Closed Loop
- Open Loop
- Figure 8
Let’s take a closer look at one, how they work and what they’re best used for.
What Are Closed Loop Straps?
Closed Loop Lifting Straps are straps that are looped upon themselves and then stitched together at the ends creating a “closed loop.”
Closed Loop Straps are primarily used by Olympic lifters because they’re designed to be able to quickly disengage from the bar.
This is extremely important for lifts like Cleans and Snatches. If a lifter were to miss a Snatch behind the head and not able to release their grip from the bar, it could lead to a pretty devastating injury.
This ability to quickly release the bar comes from the closed loop design.
These straps are designed shorter in length so the strap doesn’t get overly wrapped around the bar. Lengths can vary, but typically a closed loop strap is a total of about 16 inches from the start of the loop to its completion back at the starting point.
If you’re doing a lot of Olympic lifting, these are the types of straps I’d recommend.
I’ve tested quite a few weightlifting straps over the years and my favorite is Ironmind’s Sew Easy Straps. They give me an excellent grip on the bar and are the highest quality, most durable pair I’ve ever used.
Closed Loop vs Open Loop Straps
Open Loop straps are another type of strap that is primarily used for Olympic lifting.
So, what’s the difference between a closed loop and open loop strap?
While a Closed Loop Strap loops upon itself and is stitched together, an Open Loop strap is the same strap without being stitched to form a loop. Essentially it’s just the strap itself.
I have a few friends who are serious lifters and are diehard Open Loop Strap users. Honestly, though, I’ve tried using them and they really take some time to get used to them. I still struggle at times getting my second hand locked into the bar.
If you’re just getting started with using lifting straps, I would recommend holding off on trying a pair of Open Loop Straps. Stick with a Closed Loop strap or another type of strap, the Lasso Strap.
Long before I had even heard of a Closed or Open Loop Strap, my first pair of lifting straps was a pair of Lasso Straps.
Lasso Straps are the most common type of strap and the kind you’re probably going to find at the big box sporting goods stores. Lasso Straps are the most common, most popular strap due to how easy they are for a beginner to use.
Instead of being stitched end to end like a Closed Loop Strap, a Lasso Strap has a small loop stitched on one end and the opposite end slides through. This creates a loop for your hand to slide through and secure on your wrist.
The remaining length of the strap is then looped around the bar, sometimes multiple times, to create a secure grip on the bar.
Lasso Straps are great for beginners and recreational lifters. They’re easy to use and work great for exercises like Shrugs, Barbell Rows as well as dumbbell exercises like One Arm Rows.
Figure 8 Straps
Instead of one loop like the previous straps we’ve talked about, Figure 8 Straps have two loops.
These are used primarily by powerlifters. Figure 8 straps work by placing your hand through one loop of the strap, then wrapping the strap under the bar and finally putting your hand through the second loop.
Unlike the other straps, Figure 8 straps do not sit between the palm of your hand and the bar. Your entire hand will be on the bar and the strap wraps around the bar to the outside (closer to the plates) of your hand.
These work great for staying locked into the bar for deadlifts, but do not try to use them for Olympic lifts. That could end very badly.
Which Lifting Strap is Best?
Which lifting strap is best comes down to what you want from a strap.
Going to be Olympic lifting? Get a pair of Closed Loop Straps. Of course, you could get a pair of Open Loop Straps, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you already have a lot of experience using straps.
Lasso Straps are a great all-around lifting strap for beginners that still work great even if you have been using straps for years. I still use my Lasso Straps for exercises like Shrugs and RDLs.
Getting serious with Powerlifting? Give some Figure 8 Straps a try.
If you want specific brand recommendations, check out my Best Lifting Straps Guide. I bought and tested 7 of the best lifting straps on the market and I tell you which ones I’m still using now.
What’s the Difference Between Wrist Wraps and Lifting Straps?
Quickly before we wrap up, I want to touch on one of my personal pet peeves. Lifting Straps and Wrist Wraps are two very different things.
Lifting Straps go around your wrist and then wrap around the bar to improve your grip. Wrist Wraps wrap around your wrist (and not the bar) to help support and stabilize your wrist for pressing movements.
Learning the difference between the different types of Lifting Straps, what they’re used for and how to use them can be a little more than you bargained for when you first start looking.
Hopefully, this has helped you zero in and what’s going to work best for you and your lifting style.