There are two camps when it comes to weightlifting straps. One is formed by brainwashed bodybuilders who rely on straps to open doors and carry groceries whereas the other is the shelter of lifters who would rather sleep in the fridge than put on straps. Both sides are wrong.
Straps Are Designed To Preserve Your Fingers, Forearms, and Wrists
Straps’ main purpose is to allow the leg and back muscles to accumulate volume without limitations imposed by the forearms and fingers.
There are certain exercises that cannot be trained with sufficient volume unless straps are implemented as a way to fix the weak link. A popular example would be the Olympic snatch.
Due to the wide grip required by the movement, all weightlifters rely on straps when doing the exercise in training. Without straps, the progress will be limited by grip strength. Your hands simply won’t allow you to train with a high enough volume. In a sense, straps are a “life hack” that allows you to train harder in that particular situation.
Straps Require Intelligent Planning
If you rely on straps for every set, your grip will remain weak. Most people add straps only for their work sets and sometimes the heaviest warm-up. As you get stronger, your warm-ups increase and with them – your grip strength.
Most Exercises Don’t Require Straps
Most exercises don’t even require straps. Unless there is a medical condition, there’s no need to “strap” for pull-ups, barbell rows, biceps curl…etc.
Straps are designed primarily for heavy pulls (e.g., deadlifts, shrugs, power shrugs, trap bar deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, Kroc rows, snatches…etc.)
Note: In some situations, straps can result in a wreck. The video above walks you through Zack Krych’s wrist injury and recovery process. If you look carefully, you will see that he got injured during barbell cleans with straps. The straps stopped him from bailing out earlier. As a result, the bar smashed his wrists.
Straps Can Help When You are Hurt
If you are suffering from elbow tendonitis or general overuse of the forearms, straps can reduce some of the stress. In a similar situation, adding straps for exercises like pull-ups makes sense at least while the injury is healing.
Should I Buy Expensive Straps?
Not really. You can make your own straps. In the video above, Mark Rippetoe explains how to do heavy power shrugs. At around 3:30, he showcases the straps that he uses which are simple as it gets.