Back in the day, I am talking 25 30 years ago, I used to think that using straps was ‘cheating’
Yes, I was a bit of a naïve dill brain! Now that I am an experienced lifter who has collected a lot of lessons along the way, I know better. I use straps in every back workout and I advocate to my clients that they use them too.
Yes, you want good forearm and grip strength but at the end of the day you are only going to be as strong as your weakest link. So when it comes to back, trust me when I say I guarantee your grip and your forearms are going to give out way ahead of your lats. And what trainee doesn’t want a better shaped and bigger lat spread?
For building muscle, straps allow you to:
- Get more reps with the same weight. You can do 6 reps of 100 on the deadlift without straps? Good, now get some straps and you’ll probably add a couple more reps.
- Use more weight for the same number of reps. Same example: you can deadlift 100kg for 6 reps. Add straps and maybe you can do 6 reps of 110kg. That’s huge.
- Increase training volume. With straps, you’ll be able to knock out another complete set when your grip gives out before your muscles do on pulling movements. Do a few sets of pull-ups, pulldowns or RDLs without straps, then do a bonus set with straps.
- Increase training volume on certain lifts like the deadlift. As Christian Thibaudeau has written, using straps when deadlifting decreases the neural demand and allows you to do more volume or ramp up frequency. Basically, straps give your fried CNS a break because grip-centric exercises are harder on the central nervous system.
All four of those contribute to that thing most people are after anyway: muscle growth. I actually ALWAYS use straps now. It is only in an actual powerlifting meet that I don’t use them.
And because I am performing only a single rep I have never ever lost the barbell due to my grip strength giving out.