Here’s a slab of truth: Lifting straps are one of the most important pieces of gear in a lifter’s toolbox, especially if you are looking to increase your deadlift.
Why use Lifting Straps?
As you progress on the Deadlift, it is very likely that your grip will be unable to catch up with your back and leg muscles. When this happens, you won’t be able to complete your reps because your grip would fail first. This is where lifting straps come in to give you that extra grip strength.
Some lifters may argue that one should refrain from straps because resorting to straps is like covering up for your weak grip – this argument makes no sense at all.
Here’s the thing. When training the deadlift, or any pulling movement like rows, pull ups, etc, remember that you’re performing these movements to train exercise-specific muscles such as your upper back and lats, and not your weak grip. You don’t want to hold back your progress on vital exercises just because your grip can’t handle it. And about your weak grip, you can always train your grip separately using grip-targeting specific exercises. To increase your grip strength specifically for deadlifts, try these exercises.
Lifting Straps Styles
Lifting straps work in a pretty simple way – they loop around your hands as well as the barbell and make it easier for you to hold on to the weight. Typically made of fabric such as cotton or nylon, they’re pretty simple to make as well.
There are a few different designs of lifting straps out there, but this one below (Lasso design) is the standard design most people use and opt for:
Other variations of lifting straps include the Figure 8 style straps, Single loop straps, and 2-in-1 straps with wrist wraps built in. Before we jump into the DIY lifting straps guide, here’s a list of 4 good lifting straps you can purchase on Amazon for an affordable price. If you have the money and don’t have the time, go ahead and purchase one. You can’t go wrong with the Harbinger Lasso one (first bullet), as it is affordable yet durable.
- Harbinger Standard Lasso Cotton Lifting Straps
- Figure 8 Style Lifting Straps Pair
- Singe loop lifting straps
- 2-in-1 Lifting Straps + Wrist protector
However, you might just be frugal like me, in which case you can choose to be resourceful and make your own pair of lifting straps! It’s fairly easy and straightforward since you just need some fabric in the form of straps. Trust me, it works like the real thing with amazing effectiveness.
DIY Lifting Straps Guide
In order to make your own lifting straps, you’ll need a piece of thick fabric/cloth straps made of cotton or nylon. There are many possible options you can utilize: seatbelt straps, backpack straps, bag handles, etc. Surely, you can find something appropriate lying somewhere.
In this guide, we’ll use the straps from an old backpack, since most people are likely to have one lying around and the ends of these bag straps usually come with a loop already. Also, bag straps look and feel 95% similar to lifting straps, which makes sense as they’re made of the same material. In just 3 steps, you’ll have a good pair of durable straps.
Step 1: Cut the strap material from the backpack
Cut two pieces of strap material from the backpack, each with around 15-20 inches in length. The width should be at least around 1 inch. Most backpack straps will have the right dimensions so you won’t have to tweak them much.
Step 2: Create the loop
If you’re lucky like I was, the ends of your bag straps may already have loops (like in the picture below). However, if they don’t, you can always form a loop manually and stitch it tight. At this point, they should look something like this:
At this step, the straps are already ready to use! But we’ll refine them further for optimal performance and durability.
Step 3: Add Soft Padding
This step is optional but highly recommended. The straps are made of rough cloth so they might hurt your skin when subjected to heavy loads. A soft padding will remedy this problem. We’re going to add a padding just below the loop area so when the straps pull against your wrist, it won’t be painful thanks to the soft padding.
I had extra strap material, so I just used that and stuffed some around the straps. After which, I added some cotton to make it softer, and finally taped it with electrical tape.
After adding the padding, it should look something like this:
The padding part shouldn’t be too hard and should be bendable like in the picture below:
After you’ve added the padding, you’re done! I know that was quick. These straps are ready to handle your next deadlift workout. And here’s how they should like:
Here’s the correct way of wearing the straps. You can’t see it in this picture, but the padding part should rest on where your watch’s face would.
Make sure the strap goes parallel to your thumb, that is, in between your thumb and index finger. This set up makes it easier for you to wrap the straps around the bar tighter to fully utilize the effectiveness of the straps.
Step 4 (BONUS): Convert them into 2-in-1 Straps + Wrist wraps
There is one more ingenious thing you could do to refine these even more. Turn them into wrist wraps too! Wrist wraps are used typically in the bench press to support your wrist from bending under heavy loads.
They’re separate from lifting straps and sell for about the same price. The main purpose is to really provide support to your wrist. Here’s what they look like:
To add the wrist wrap functionality into our lifting straps, you need to attach some velcro so it can close when you wrap it around the wrists. You may use velcro from your old bags or you can also buy velcro tape.
Velcro has two sides that attach together. In the image below, the “hook” rough side should be attached to the non-loop end of the straps, while the other smooth patch should be attached somewhere in the middle of the straps, on the opposite side from the “hook” patch. You can either stitch the velcro on to the straps or use super glue.
And done! Here’s the final product with the velcro. As you can see, the non-loop end of the straps has one patch of the velcro, while the other patch is in the middle on the opposite side.
When you wear them as wrist wraps, they would look something like this (see picture below). In this way, your wrist won’t bend backward when holding the bar during the bench press or overhead press. It might not provide the same level of stability as actual wrist wraps, but they still support the wrists very well and will get the job done.
So there you have it. These simple DIY lifting straps not only serve as straps for pulling movements like the Deadlift but can also be doubled as wrist wraps for support in the bench press. You won’t need an extra accessory for your wrist wraps since this is 2-in-1!