If you are looking to improve your deadlift by wearing wrist wraps, they may potentially be beneficial for increasing grip strength.
Wearing wrist wraps for deadlifts can increase your grip strength for max effort attempts. If grip strength is the limiting factor, i.e. you fail the deadlift based on grip alone, then wearing wrist wraps will help. Wrapping them tightly around the base of your palm will be the key to increasing performance.
Grip issues are the limiting factor for many lifters' ability to increase their deadlift.
There are multiple ways to address this issue, and while no one solution is perfect, this article will discuss whether wrist wraps are the right solution for you.
- Wrist wraps are a tool used to increase grip strength for high-level powerlifters and have even helped win world championships.
- Wrist wraps are a short-term tool for increasing grip strength; however, working on your hand or forearm strength or changing grips may be a better long-term solution.
- Wrist wraps are allowed in powerlifting meets while wrist straps are not allowed.
Wrist Wraps vs Straps: Are They The Same Thing?
Wrist wraps and wrist straps are not the same things.
For deadlifts, wrist straps are more commonly used, whereas wrist wraps are not.
Wrist wraps are stretchy fabric that wrap around your wrists in multiple layers providing wrist support.
The wrist wraps prevent your wrist from bending forward or back, and ultimately cast your wrist in place.
They are primarily used for low-bar squats and bench press, or any exercise where you’re concerned about not keeping a neutral wrist.
However, when wrapped tight enough in the right spot, they can also improve grip for exercises like deadlifts (explained later).
Wrist straps, also called lifting straps, wrap around your wrists once and then have a piece of long fabric or leather that wraps around the bar.
Wrist straps don’t support the wrist at all. The main goal is to eliminate grip issues for any pulling exercise, including deadlifts.
Wrist straps also allow you to have the bar lower in your hand which can reduce the range of motion on the deadlift.
Because wrist straps are not allowed in powerlifting competitions, you don’t see them being worn by many powerlifters.
Can You Wear Wrist Wraps for Deadlifts?
Wrist wraps are primarily used for providing wrist support, rather than being an aid for grip strength.
However, because powerlifters are not allowed to use wrist straps in competition, some powerlifters opt to use wrist wraps instead.
Wrist wraps do not provide as much grip aid compared with wrist straps, but powerlifters will use any advantage possible - especially if they’re failing deadlifts because of grip.
So yes, you can wear wrist wraps for deadlifts. However, most people, especially those who are not competitive powerlifters, will not need or use wrist wraps for deadlifts.
Instead, if you struggle with grip, use wrist straps (not wrist wraps).
How to Use Wrist Wraps for Deadlift?
If you are a powerlifter though, and you want to use wrist wraps for deadlifts, then here is how you should wear them properly.
If you take one hand and squeeze the wrist of your opposite hand, you will notice the hand that you’re squeezing begin to naturally close (i.e. it will start to close into a fist).
Experiment with squeezing your hand in different locations on your wrist.
You may notice that certain locations on your wrist, when pressure is applied, force the hand to close even tighter.
This spot is usually lower on the wrist (just below the wrist joint).
Once you’ve found that spot, wrap your wrist wraps as tight as possible.
You will know they are tight enough because you will have to force your hand open.
This tight compression on your wrist will pull your hand closed and improve your ability to grip the bar.
This also may tire out your forearm muscles faster and could possibly be a detriment to your grip strength if used for multiple sets in a workout.
So I recommend only doing this for max effort attempts or max testing in training.
Otherwise, avoid using wrist wraps in training for deadlifts.
Is it Cheating, Do People Do It, Is It Allowed in Competition....
Wearing wrist wraps is allowed in competition and has actually won world titles in powerlifting.
While not many people do it, examples can be found.
At the 2019 World Championships, Canadian lifter Maria Htee missed her second deadlift on grip strength.
She needed to make her third attempt deadlift to win gold.
For the third attempt, she wrapped her wrists with wrist wraps, and makes the deadlift.
As you can see, in a “do or die” situation, wrist wraps can make all the difference.
Do Wrist Wraps Help Your Deadlift?
Wrist wraps do help your deadlift if you are limited by grip strength and using them for double overhand or mixed grip.
Double Overhand Grip
Double overhand grip is when you grab the bar with both palms facing your shins.
This is the most typical grip for new lifters to learn as it is the simplest and most natural way someone will grab the bar.
Grip failure is very common in double overhand grip as it is less advantageous for grip strength than mixed grip.
The bar can roll backwards into your fingers which are less strong than your palms causing more common grip failure.
Due to grip being very limited with this hand position this grip has the most to gain from wrapping wrist wraps tightly around your wrist.
Mixed grip is where you hold the bar with one of your hands in an overhand position and you turn your other hand the opposite direction (Palms facing away from shins) to an underhand position.
This position provides a better grip on the bar because the bar rolling in either direction leads to it rolling into a palm.
Many powerlifters use this grip for deadlifts.
And, while mixed grip is less likely to fail on grip strength than double overhand, it can still happen.
When to Consider Wearing Wrist Wraps to Deadlift
Consider wearing wrist wraps on deadlifts if you are a competitive powerlifter or are attempting a one-rep max test and have a history of struggling with grip strength.
If you are a competitive powerlifter you may want to consider wearing your wrist wraps tightly for your third attempt deadlifts especially if you missed your second on grip or struggle with grip on deadlifts in training.
You may not need them but it's better to have the increased grip strength and not need it than to need it and not have it on your last attempt of the day.
If you are attempting a one-rep max in training the same thought applies.
You would hate to miss your max attempt on grip strength especially if you know that is a weak point for you.
4 Reasons That You DO NOT Need Wrist Wraps for Deadlifts
1. You pull hook grip
Hook grip unlike double overhand and mix grip doesn’t rely on grip strength at all.
Hook grip is when you use your thumb and your fingers to create a hook for the bar like a lifting strap with your own hand.
Hook grip does not give out with your grip strength but instead with your ability to maintain the hook without the bar being knocked out of place or your thumbs tearing.
Hook grip can really hurt which is why a lot of lifters choose not to pull hook grip.
However, with hook grip not depending on grip strength, using wrist wraps will not help at all.
2. You need to train your grip
While using wrist wraps can help you deal with short-term grip issues, using this strategy too often can lead to less work for your forearm muscles and lower grip strength in the long term.
This study looked at the correlation between grip strength and overall strength in powerlifters. They found that grip strength was a good indicator of overall strength in powerlifting.
“These results suggest that grip strength is a good indicator of total body strength in competitive raw powerlifters.”
Training your grip strength is likely a good thing for any lifter looking to get stronger.
Make sure you are not over-reliant on using wrist wraps for deadlifts and you train your grip often with long holds, and higher reps on deadlifts or weighted carry exercises.
3. You don’t compete
If you don’t compete you can still use wrist wraps for deadlift max attempts but other options do exist.
First of all, in a powerlifting meet if you miss an attempt you can't retake it so the pressure for your grip to hold up is higher.
In the gym, if you miss a deadlift on grip strength just come back and put wrist wraps on, and retake the attempt.
Additionally, wrist straps are not allowed in meets but there are no rules you can't use them if you aren’t in a meet.
If you have grip issues, wrist straps are probably a better alternative for non-competitors.
4. You don’t own wrist wraps
If you don’t own wrist wraps already for exercises like squats and bench they may not be worth the investment just for deadlifts.
If you are planning to compete or are planning on purchasing wrist wraps already for other exercises it may be worth it to use wrist wraps for deadlifts.
If you are planning on purchasing wrist wraps just for deadlifts and you do not compete, wrist straps may be a better investment.
Wraps and Straps for Deadlifts
Best wraps for deadlifts - 18-inch wrist wraps
The 18-inch wrist wraps are flexible and great for wrapping your wrists as tightly as needed to help improve grip strength for deadlifts. They are approved for powerlifting meets in every federation.
Best straps for beginners - Padded lifting straps
If you are looking to increase your deadlift, don’t compete, and don’t want to be limited by grip strength these straps should be your number one choice.
Frequently asked questions
What length and stiffness of wrist wraps are best for deadlifts?
For deadlifts, shorter and less stiff wrist wraps are best. Unlike squats and bench the wraps are not acting in a supportive way so stiffness and length are a detriment to getting the wraps as tight as possible to aid in grip strength.
Will using lifting straps decrease my grip strength?
Lifting straps will weaken your grip strength. Lifting straps eliminate grip strength from exercises allowing you to focus more on other target areas but will hinder your ability to build grip strength if that is your objective.