Wrist wraps are worn to provide support for all types of lifts.
However, the type of wrap and exercise you are using them on will determine how to put them on (and how tight).
When wearing a wrist wrap, you want to wrap around the wrist joint (as well as slightly below and above) to provide full coverage around the wrist. The tighter you wrap the wrist, the more support you will get, but the less flexibility you will have.
Below I’ll cover how to put on wrist wraps properly, review how to determine if you put them on too tight, and cover seven mistakes lifters make when learning how to put on their wrist wraps.
How To Put On Wrist Wraps: A Step-By-Step Guide
There are two main styles of wrist wraps.
The first is the most common. It has a thumb loop and is secured by velcro.
The second is a warp that has a thin piece of string attached to the end, which you will wrap and tuck under itself to secure the wrap.
We will cover how to secure both around the wrists properly.
Wrist Wrap with Thumb Loop and Velcro
- Start by lining up the thumb loop with the base of your thumb, making sure that the wrap is covering the wrist joint.
- Place your thumb through the loop.
- Hold one end of the wrap, and start to wrap the material around the wrist joint (do one wrap).
- Next, move the material up slightly so that you are now wrapping just above the prior wrap (but still covering most of the material from the prior wrap).
- Next, move the material down and wrap it just below the wrist joint (still covering the first wrap).
- Continue wrapping over the material until you get to the end of the wrap, and secure it with the velcro.
- You can go back and adjust the tightness of each wrap if needed to get the right amount of support you are looking for.
Twist and Tuck Wrist Wrap
- Start by wrapping the belt around the wrist, making sure to take your first few wraps to cover the wrist.
- Take your next few wraps and wrap both above and below the wrist joint, still making sure each wrap you do covers some of the prior wraps.
- Save your last few wraps so that you are wrapping directly over the wrist joint again and wrap the material and the end of the string attachment around itself.
- When you get to the end of the string (which should still be wrapped around the material), take the last few inches of the string and tuck it under the string that is already wrapped.
- You should be able to then take your hand and grab your wrist and twist the material to tighten or loosen it around your wrist, with the tighter it providing more support.
Related Article: Does Wearing Wrist Wraps Help With Pain While Lifting?
How Tight Should Your Wrist Wraps Be?
While there is no specific level of tightness that everyone should wear their wrap at, it is generally said that your wraps should be tight enough that you have some limitations in moving your wrist freely, but are not 100% restricted in your movement.
The level of tights can also vary based on the type of wrap you are using (extra stiff vs standard vs flexibility wrap) as well as the exercise you are performing.
To be clear, you are never wearing wraps loosely. Rather, they are worn less tight to have a trade-off between maximal support and maximal flexibility.
When to Wear Your Wraps Very Tight
When you are looking for the highest amount of wrist support and do not need to have wrist flexibility, then a very tight wrap is preferred. This is typically the case when using extra stiff wraps, as they are made to be stiff and be worn tight.
These are generally used by strength athletes who compete in powerlifting and other sports where they need their wrists to be stable under extremely heavy loads, and are not concerned with needing some level of flexibility.
- Related Article: Wrist Wraps for Small Wrists
When to Wear Your Wraps Normally
“Standard” wraps tend to offer good support and decent flexibility. These wraps have an elastic component that allows you to have some control over the level of support you want yet still gives you some flexibility you may need.
These are typically worn tight enough that you feel you have limited flexibility (which means more support), but you are still above having slight wrist movement to perform most lifts.
This is one of the most versatile types of wrist wrap, as it can be worn tightly to produce support for heavier lifts (bench press, overhead press) or adjusted to also be able to still provide support for more dynamic lits where you need some wrist flexibility (snatches, cleans, jerks)
When to Wear Your Wraps Less Tight
When using flexible wraps, you are often performing exercises where you want some standard level of wrist stability but you cannot fully go without wrist flexibility.
Exercises like the Olympic lifts and bodybuilding exercises may fall into this category. Depending on the lifter's preference, they may also choose to use more flexible softer wraps, or opt to use a slightly stiffer wrap (as above).
- Related Article: Wrist Wraps Vs Lifting Straps: What Are the Differences?
How To Tell If Your Wrist Wrap Is On Correctly
You can tell if your wrist wrap is on correctly if you have good coverage over the joint with the material, the material is not unwrapping or moving around, and if you feel the wrap providing support without cutting off circulation.
To Ensure Good Coverage Over the Wrist Joint
This is why we suggest you take your first few wraps over, just above, and just below the wrist joint, and then repeat this to have the wrap be covering the joint and surrounding areas.
To Keep the Wrap from Coming Undone
When wrapping your wrist, you want to always make sure that your prior wrap is still somewhat under the new wrap. You will often need to have at least ½ the width of the wrap covering one another during every wrap to make sure you are not wrapping them too close to the edges to have the wraps come undone.
To Get Support Without Cutting Off Circulation
As you wrap around your wrist, you will need to make sure that you are wrapping tight enough to get the support you need but not too tight that you start to lose circulation (or get tingling) in your hands. I will tend to wrap my wrist with my hand partially open to ensure I will be able to open and close my hand and use my full grip strength once the wrap is one.
6 Mistakes To Avoid When Putting On Wrist Wraps
1. Not Lining Up the Thumb Loop with Your Wrist
Failure to line up the thumb loop with the wrist can result in the loop being pulled around your thumb, which is not the most comfortable as the material can rub and even break skin over time.
Additionally, when you don't line the loop up properly to the thumb, the fit of the wrap will be off, which could impact the fit of the wrap and the support it can provide as you try to get the right level of snugness and positioning around the wrist.
2. Not Wrapping Tight Enough
If you fail to wrap the wrist wrap tight enough, you will not get the right amount of support you are looking for out of your wrap. The level of tightness can vary based on the lifter and the lift.
Generally speaking, you will want your wrap to be snug and not move around as you perform your lift, but you also don’t want it to be too tight where it cuts off circulation (see below).
3. Wrapping Your Wraps Too Tight
How tight you wrap your wraps is also a preference thing and can vary based on the lifter, however, you will never want to wrap the wraps so tight that you either lose circulation to the hands, lack the ability to fully close your hand, or have any impedance in maintaining a secure grip.
Some lifters will find that some lifters may require different levels of tightness around the wrist, such as heavy bench presses vs snatches. The latter requires wrist support, but also requires the wrists to have some level of flexibility whereas the bench press does not (in fact you don’t want the wrist to bend).
In that example, the wrist wraps would be worn tighter on the bench press than the snatch.
4. Wrapping Too High on the Wrist
If you are wrapping too high on the wrist, the majority of the wrap will be above the wrist joint. Wrapping too high on the wrist can cut down on your ability to open and close your grip, but more importantly will result in decreased wrist support.
You will want to wrap your wraps so that the center of the wrap is lined up over the wrist joint to provide support and stability against wrist flexion and extension (bending of the wrist in either direction).
5. Wrapping Too Low Enough on the Wrist
Similar to wrapping too high, when you wrap too low you will also be compromising the overall level of support you will be getting from the wrist wrap.
When you wear the wrap too low, you are not covering the joint, which is necessary as you want to wrap over the joint to provide structure to resist unwanted wrist flexion and extension.
6. Using Too Long of a Wrist Wrap
Wrist wraps come in a variety of lengths and depending on the usage and thickness of the material, you will want to make sure your wraps are designed for your needs.
Wrist wraps can vary in length from 12, 18, 24, and 36”, which is a wide range to choose from.
Thicker, sturdier wraps are generally offered in shorter lengths as you will not need as much wrap to provide support. Additionally, having a thick, extremely sturdy wrap in 36” would be a lot of material wrapped around your wrist (and could impede your performance).
If this is your first pair of wraps, start with an 18” pair of good-quality adjustable wrist wraps.
As you get more experience, you could then switch to a more flexible (and somewhat less supportive) longer wrap style if you needed it for more dynamic lifts. You could also switch to an extra stiff wrap, and potentially go shorter in length if that feels less bulky on your wrists.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should Wrist Wraps Feel Comfortable?
While they should not be unbearably uncomfortable, the main goal of the wrist wrap is to provide support, not comfort. Most wrist straps are made of softer material and have some stretch, which can help with comfort, however, comfort is not the main goal with these.
How Often Should You Take Wrist Wraps Off?
Most lifters will loosen the wraps (and take them off) after every set and then tighten them back up before the next set. Leaving wraps on is typically not suggested as when they are worn tight (as they should) they can limit circulation if kept on for long periods of time.
Some wraps can be left on and easily tightened and loosened between sets, in this case some lifters opt to loosen them between sets and tighten them as needed without ever taking them off during the workout.
Should Your Wrist Wrap Be Under Or Over The Wrist Joint?
The wrap should be over the joint, however when you wrap it you will usually do the first wrap over the joint, the second wrap slightly above the joint, and the third wrap slightly below the joint. If you have enough material left you could then do more wraps in the manner, so that you have good coverage of the wrap around and over the joint.