Need to get a grip, but you're not sure which accessory to use? Weight-lifting straps and hooks can help you reach your weight-lifting goals by securing your grip, helping you break through barriers that could be holding back your development. Deciding which accessory is best for you is a question of personal preference.
When doing heavy lifts your grip will often fail before your target muscles do. This will limit your progress as you work to get stronger. Both weight-lifting straps and hooks are designed to supplement your grip, particularly during pulling exercises that work the back and trapezius muscle.
Design of Straps
Weight-lifting straps are essentially strips of fabric with loops at one end. Put the other end through the loop and put your hand in the circle made by the strap. The strap will lay between the thumb and index finger. After pulling the strap tight around the wrist, you grip the bar overhand. The part of the strap that is still slack is wrapped around the bar and back over the top until snug. Twisting the bar towards you will tighten the straps. The straps will assist your grip as you pull the bar up and down.
Design of Hooks
Weight-lifting hooks are usually made with a heavy wrist band that supports the wrist. The wrist band is fixed to a hooked piece of metal that hangs under the palm of the hand. You let the metal hooks wrap around the bar under your fingers to assist your grip. Hooks may have the advantage in terms of design because straps can pull uncomfortably on the wrist and can slow down workouts during strapping and unstrapping.
Both weight lifting straps and hooks are designed for exercises like dead lifts, shrugs, barbell rows, cable rows and upright rows. Straps can also be used for pullups, curls, reverse flys and lat pulldowns. Hooks are not recommended as often for these exercises because the hooks will not assist your grip as well as the straps at certain angles, although certain products are on the market that handle this problem.
In recent years, many variations of both weight lifting straps and hooks have hit the market. There are straps built with a separate wrist band and vertical hanging strap. There are hybrid products like Haulin' Hooks, which combine a vertical strap and a hook. There are also reverse hooks, which wrap around the bar from the other side for exercises that employ downward pulling from overhead.
Straps and hooks should only be used during your most challenging lifts to prevent a loss of grip strength. If your grip is continually failing while weight lifting, you should consider focusing on forearm and grip training using a forearm developer for exercises like forearm curls, lever pulls and wrist curls.