Lifting Straps vs Wrist Wraps: What's the Difference?

by Evelyn Valdez

There are so many different types of lifting gear available for lifters, and for someone new, it can be difficult to figure out how to use each piece of equipment... and whether they need to use it! Some pieces of gear like lifting belts and barbell pads are pretty straightforward, but there are two that new lifters can't quite figure out – lifting straps and wrist wraps.

Although they sound similar, these two pieces of gear are completely different. The only similarity they share is that they are worn in the hand and/or wrist area to help support heavy weights. Other than that, they have different purposes and are used for different types of exercises.

Don't worry, we know a lot about lifting gear (we have our very own), so we're going to give you all the details on lifting straps vs wrist wraps! Keep on reading to learn more about what they're used for, how they're used, and whether you need to add both to your gym bag.

What are lifting straps?

Lifting straps are also known as wrist straps, which is why they're often confused with wrist wraps. However, unlike wrist wraps, lifting straps go around your wrist, then around your hand and the barbell or dumbbell. They are approximately 1" to 1-1/2" wide, 12" to 22" long, and are typically made out of leather, nylon, or canvas.

The main purpose of lifting straps is to help connect you to the weight to keep it from rolling out of your hand, and most importantly, to help reduce grip fatigue. By reducing grip fatigue, you're able to lift heavier weights, longer. Using them will allow you to push through more reps and focus more on the muscle groups you're intending to target and fully fatigue them before your grip fails!

When and how to use lifting straps

There are different types of lifting straps and each type connects your hand to the weight differently, but they are used for the same reason – to help you pull heavier weights. Emphasis on the pull because lifting straps are used only for heavy pulling exercises, like...

The three types of lifting straps can be used for pulling exercises, but there are certain types that are better for certain lifts. There are lasso lifting straps (like our UPPPER Lifting Straps), figure-8 lifting straps, and closed-loop lifting straps. The most popular type is lasso lifting straps because of their versatility. Casual lifters and powerlifters can use them for all kinds of heavy pulling exercises while closed-loop straps are mainly used for Olympic lifting and figure 8 straps are more heavy-duty and not ideal for all types of lifts. Lasso straps are also ideal because they're easy to use, can easily be adjusted so they're tighter, and most provide extra padding around the wrist for added safety and comfort.

Since more lifters tend to go for lasso straps, we'll be showing you how to wear that type...

  1. Put your hand through the space created so that the strap rests on the back of your hand, just below your wrists. Tighten the strap around the wrist to ensure it's secure.
  2. Place the rest of the strap over and outside your thumb on one side, outside of your hand, and down your palm.
  3. Now wrap the strap around the barbell or dumbbell by going underneath and around the bar. Tighten it up so that the bar is secured in your hand.
  4. Once the straps are in place, rotate the bar or dumbbell to tighten the straps to the weight and secure your grip.

The important thing to know about lifting straps is to only use them for your heaviest sets. Never use them for your warm-up sets or lighter weights because you can develop an over reliance which will lead to weak grip strength!

What are wrist wraps?

Now that you understand what lifting straps are and how to use them, how are wrist wraps different?

Weight lifting wrist wraps, unlike lifting straps, only wrap around your wrist, they do not contain a strap that wraps around your hand. They are made of a durable piece of material, like polyester, and contain strong Velcro to ensure maximum security. They also feature a thumb loop for added security.

The purpose of wrist wraps is to add compression around the wrist joining to help protect it and stabilize it without limiting the range of motion. The wrist is a delicate joint, and many suffer from pain or soreness in that area, especially when pushing heavier weights. The beauty of wrist wraps is they stabilize your arm to help reduce any pain in your wrist when using extremely heavy weights. But, you don't only have to have wrist pain to benefit from wrist wraps! They prevent your wrist from giving in during heavy lifts which will allow you to push heavier weights.

When and how to use wrist wraps

The other difference between lifting straps and wrist wraps is when you use them. As you know now, lifting straps are designed for heavy pulling exercises. On the other hand, wrist wraps are designed for heavy pushing exercises, specifically pressing and overhead lifts. As with any lifting gear, avoid heavily relying on them because that can lead to poor mobility. So, never use them for warm-up sets!

Here are a few exercises you can use wrist wraps for:

  • Overhead squats.
  • Overhead presses.
  • Bench presses.
  • Triceps extensions.

Just like with lifting straps, there are different types of wrist wraps. There's the traditional wrap that only wraps around your wrist, and there's an EZ grip combo and a lifting hook combo. The EZ grip wrap also wraps around your wrist, but it has an extended leather or fabric pad to go over the palm of your hand. This helps protect against blisters and calluses. The lifting hook combo also wraps around your wrist but it includes a lifting hook, making it ideal for powerlifters.

Traditional wrist wraps are ideal for casual lifters, so we'll should you how to secure a classic velcro wrap around your wrist:

  1. Find the thumb loop and line it up with the inside of your wrists.
  2. Put your thumb through the loop so the wrist wrap is in place on your hand.
  3. Wrap your wrist with the velcro side facing in. The velcro needs to be on the outside of the wrist once you’re done wrapping. Keep the edges aligned while you wrap them around your wrists.
  4. Wrap it until it’s comfortably tight and secure it with the velcro. It should be tight enough to put pressure, but not too tight that it causes discomfort.

Make sure that the wrist wrap covers the wrist joint enough to create support. If it’s set below the joint then they become useless!

Should you add both to your gym bag?

When it comes to lifting straps vs wrist wraps, it isn't an either-or type of situation. As you can see now, both pieces of lifting gear have different purposes and use. So, any serious lifter should have both in their gym bag if they want to hit PR on important pulling and pushing exercises!

So, on your pull and leg days, put your lifting straps in your gym bag, and on your push days put your wrist wraps in! Doing so will help you have better overall workouts that allow you to push more reps and maximize muscle growth.

Need help looking for the best lifting straps and wrist wraps?

UPPPER Gear has your back!

Our Wrist Wraps are heavy duty, come in a 19" length, and are available in various colors. The long length allows you to adjust the compression to your liking, but not so long that you have extra material getting in the way of your workout. They also feature strong velcro to ensure maximum security. They are a must-have on push days!

Our Lifting Straps are made with comfortable cotton material and added padded support to help you grip any amount of weight without the stress of the weight slipping out of your hand. They also feature an adjustable loop which allows you to adjust the sizing and length so you can securely wrap and connect your hand to the weight to improve traction, protect your grip, and minimize your risk of injury. Get a better grip on your pull days with UPPPER Lifting Straps!

>> Shop UPPPER Gear <<

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