Professional bodybuilders love equipment. They constantly wear weightlifting belts, gloves and straps. The beginners imitate them and it’s not uncommon to see unaware individuals using straps on every exercise. Some use them even when lifting just the bar. The misuse of of a training equipment does not make the tool bad. It’s our habits that make bad. Guns don’t kill people. Men do.
Straps are a valuable training equipment which allows you to increase your workload when your hands have given up. You should not, however, use them on every exercise in order to develop a stronger and more powerful forearm muscles and grip.
A good practice to adopt is to never use straps for your warm-up sets. That way your forearms will continue to get stronger, while the straps will allow you to get some extra volume. If you were to deadlift for example, you could skip the straps until the last set or two of your routine.
You can do all warm-up sets using overhand grip; the first working sets using hook or mixed grip; and the last few using straps.
That way you get the best of both worlds. As far as supplemental exercises such as rack pulls are concerned, you can do something similar – straps off for the warm-up sets and straps on for all working sets.
While straps are mainly used for heavy stuff like deadlifts, there are many lifters who insist on using straps for pull-ups as well.
If you were doing pull-ups, you don’t need straps at all unless you are injured or you are learning the technique. Pull-ups do not require that much of a grip strength. You are not going to hang forever anyway. However, if you are suffering from elbow tendonitis straps may be a valuable option meant to take some pressure off the hurting structures.
Note: Using straps for pull-ups is also useful when you are learning how to activate your lats. When you are using straps, you don’t have to grip the bar as hard and this reduces the involvement of the arms during pull-ups. When you are just hanging there, it’s much easier to focus on contracting the back muscles only. If you have trouble activating and feeling your lats during pull-ups, try a few sets with straps. Imagine that your arms are just hooks. This technique will help you develop the muscle connection “you always wanted to have”.
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