Should You Wear Lifting Straps or Weight Lifting Gloves?

by Evelyn Valdez

Anyone strength training to build muscle, strength, and power will do anything to maximize their workouts. This includes using lifting gear, like lifting belts or wrist wraps, to help give additional support for really heavy lifts. Aside from that, they can help improve your form and technique, help you lift longer, and overall better! But, when it comes to getting a better grip on the barbell or other heavy weights, what type of gear should you use?

Walk into any weight room, and you'll see gym-goers using one of two things – weight lifting straps or workout gloves. Someone new to lifting gear might not understand the differences nor will they be able to figure out which ones are better. However, there's no right or wrong one. Both weightlifting gloves and straps can help you break PRs on various lists, including heavy deadlifts and rows! Which one you should wear depends on your personal preferences and goals. Knowing the differences, and their pros and cons will help you decide, and we're going to give you the complete breakdown on lifting straps vs gloves so you can decide which ones will be going into your gym bag!

What is the difference between lifting straps and weight lifting gloves?

First things first, let's break down how they're different...

  • Weight lifting gloves: Also known as workout gloves, gym gloves, and training gloves, are just as they sound their gloves that are designed to provide extra padding to improve grip on heavy pulling and pushing exercises. There are different types of workout gloves, like finger gloves which cover your full fingers or may have a wrist attachment for wrist support, while others don't. Either way, they're all designed to do the same, assist you on your heavy compound lifts.
  • Lifting straps: Also known as wrist straps (not to be confused with wrist wraps) are unlike gloves, as in, they don't cover your entire hand. Lifting straps are approximately 1" to 1-1/2" wide and 12" to 22" long to wrap around your hand and securely attach it to the barbell or dumbbells. There are different types of lifting straps, the most popular being single-loop, figure 8, or lasso design. Either way, all lifting straps are designed to help provide wrist support and improve your grip strength on heavy pulling exercises. 

As you can see, the main difference is the way they're designed and when you can use them. Gym-goers can use gloves for various exercises, pushing or pulling, but lifting straps can only be used during pulling movements.

Weight lifting gloves: Pros and Cons

If you're still not sure which one to get just based on the differences, below are pros and cons about wearing gloves so you can weigh out your options...

Pros

  • They're great for beginners because they provide wrist support and enhance grip and comfortability when lifting.
  • They can reduce your risk of calluses and blisters from heavier weights. 
  • They're versatile! Unlike lifting straps, workout gloves can be used for a variety of exercises, including pushing exercises (bench presses, overhead presses) and pulling exercises (rows and deadlifts).
  • They protect your hands from getting sweaty which can cause the weight to slip out of your hand.
  • They provide extra protection if you have open wounds on your hands.

Cons

  • It can hold you back from developing better grip strength. Having good grip strength is necessary for lifting weights, like barbell rows and even overhead presses. Having a weak grip can hold you back from pushing through more reps and making more gains. That's why there's knurling, the etches on dumbbells and barbells, to improve your grip strength!
  • It can prevent you from good exercise form. The extra padding material on your hands can mess with your form on powerlifting exercises, like the power clean.
  • They're not the most effective piece of fitness gear for maximal lifts. These types of gloves are quite heavy-duty, so the thick material can get in the way of performing a heavy compound lift, like deadlifts, effectively.

Lifting Straps: Pros and Cons

You might think weight lifting gloves hold the same benefits and downsides as straps, but they don't. Weight lifting straps are designed differently and are commonly used by bodybuilders and powerlifters over gloves due to their different benefits. But don't just choose straps as your go-to gear because everyone else is! Weigh out the pros and cons to see if they're right for you...

Pros 

  • They reduce your reliance on your grip strength which reduces the tension on your forearm and biceps thus allowing you to exhaust the muscle groups you worked on for better muscle growth.
  • They can help you focus more on your form and technique. Since your focus is less on your grip, and more on the heavy pulling exercise, you're able to focus more on the important stuff like your form and technique! In case you need a reminder, good exercise form is crucial if you wanna reap the benefits of the exercise you're performing.
  • They reduce grip fatigue to allow you to lift heavier, for longer! The design of lifting straps helps reduce your grip fatigue which in turn can help you push through a few more reps since your grip is no longer holding you back.
  • They help prevent a possible injury from the weight slipping out of your hand. Lifting straps literally connect your hand to the weight so they add security for those afraid of the weight slipping out of your hand.
  • They help you gain progress a tad quicker! Sometimes your grip can hold you back from making progress on certain lifts because it can give out before the actual muscles working do. By using lifting straps on your heaviest lifts, you'll be able to make progress faster than without using them.

Cons

  • They can only be used for heavy pulling exercises. Gym gloves can be used for light and heavy weight lifting, lifting straps are designed to be used only for really heavy pulling exercises, like deadlifts, barbell rows, and leg exercises with dumbbells.
  • ​They might not be the most beginner-friendly. Gym gloves, no matter the kind you get, are not complex. You can slip them on and keep them on pretty much your entire workout. Lifting straps are a little more complex, depending on the type, you'll need to do some maneuvering to attach your hand to the weight you're using. They're also not designed for light weight lifting, so beginners won't need them until they're performing really heavy lifts.

Lifting Straps vs. Gloves: Who's the winner?

There is no winner! As you can see, both weight lifting gloves and straps have their own benefits, and differences, making them better suited for certain gym-goers. New lifters tend to use weight lifting gloves due to the comfortability and support they provide. While more experienced lifters prefer using lifting straps as a tool to help them develop better strength and muscular growth.

So, you have to decide for yourself which piece of gear is better suited for your goals and fitness level. And if lifting straps seem to be more your style then check out UPPPER's Lifting Straps Collection

What makes UPPPER Lifting Straps so great?

Well, ours are made with comfortable cotton and neoprene material and include added padded support to help you grip any amount of weight without the discomfort or stress of the weight slipping out of your hand. They are designed so that the loop’s adjustable sizing and extending length allow you to wrap and connect your hand to the weight to improve traction, protect your grip, and minimize your risk of injury. These Lifting Straps will be your best friends on your pull days. And the best part is, they come in various colors that match our other lifting gear – Lifting Belts and Barbell Pads!

>> Shop UPPPER Lifting Gear <<

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