If you’ve ever squatted heavy, you’ll know that there can be an incredible amount of stress placed on your wrists.
Even more so for those squatting in a “low bar” position, which requires the wrist to bend backward to a greater degree.
So, you may be wondering if it’s worth wearing wrist wraps for squats.
Many lifters choose to wear wrist wraps when squatting as they provide extra support and stability during the movement. However, when doing a high bar squat, wrist wraps may not be as necessary since the bar is positioned higher on the back, and the wrist angle is less severe.
In general, the decision to wear wrist wraps during squatting will depend on the individual's specific squatting technique (high bar vs low bar) and experience level (beginner vs advanced).
Below, I’ll cover how to know whether you should wear wrist wraps for squats and, if you do, how to wear them properly.
- Wrist wraps provide additional stability for the wrists during low bar squats, which can reduce the risk of injury and enable lifters to handle heavier weights. This is important for strength athletes, including powerlifters or anyone looking to increase their squat.
- Wrist wraps help to maintain the proper bar path while squatting by keeping the wrists in the correct position (i.e. neutral with a slight extension), which positions the barbell over your center of gravity and increases your balance and control.
- Wrist wraps can help to alleviate aches and pains caused by unfavorable positions of the wrist under heavier loads; however, wearing wrist wraps will not fix current injuries or strengthen weak wrists.
Pros Of Wearing Wrist Wraps For Squats
1. Provides Extra Support For Low Bar Squats
Wrist wraps can help provide extra support and stability for your wrists when squatting heavy weights, reducing the risk of injury.
In a low bar squat, the bar sits on the bottom of the traps/top of your rear deltoids (unlike the high bar squat).
Having the bar in this position is more vulnerable as it’s prone to rolling in your hand or sliding down your back. This doesn’t happen when the bar sits on the top of your traps (like in a high bar squat).
To keep the bar in place while low bar squatting, your wrists should remain neutral, with a slight extension (slightly bent backward).
You should also be thinking about “bending the bar on your back” in order to anchor it in place. This cue helps keep the bar fixed into your upper back and prevents it from rolling off your back altogether.
This position, however, places a high demand on your wrists as they are supporting the weight to keep it in place and applying pressure to the bar to hold it in place.
Using wrist wraps to provide the wrists with extra support can alleviate some of the stress placed on the wrists and allow you to maintain this position with less discomfort.
2. Helps Maintain More Efficient Technique
A change in wrist position during your squat could result in a change to your entire technique while squatting.
In an ideal squat, the barbell should track directly over the middle of your foot. This allows the load to be in-line with your center of mass which keeps you in a balanced position while squatting.
In other words, if the bar is tracking over the middle of your foot, you’re not going to feel like you’re falling forward or backward as you squat.
If the bar rolls down your back because your wrists aren’t stable, even by an inch, your body will need to respond to that shift in position in order to return the barbell over your center of mass.
This causes a loss of balance and a change in technique.
This change of technique mid-squat reduces your power output, making it harder to complete the lift. It also increases your risk of injury.
Therefore, wearing wrist wraps to keep your wrists stable can help you maintain proper barbell position while squatting and make the lift easier.
3. Reduces Wrist Pain
Wrist wraps can help alleviate any wrist pain or discomfort you feel while squatting, allowing you to continue training pain-free and focus on the task at hand.
In the low bar squat where the bar is resting lower on your back, your wrists will be pushed into extension to keep the bar in this position, especially under heavier loads.
Despite increased forces encouraging the wrists to bend backward, the goal is still to maintain a relatively neutral wrist position. Failing to keep the wrists neutral increases the risk of injury, pain, and discomfort at the wrist joints.
Wrapping your wrists will help maintain this neutral position by creating a brace around the joint. It will also create support for any bending back that occurs at the wrist.
Because the wrist joint is a small joint within the body; 300lbs, or even 200lbs for many lifters, can be more than what their wrist joints can handle without additional support.
Wrist wraps provide additional support to help you squat without wrist pain so that you can focus on getting stronger.
Cons Of Wearing Wrist Wraps For Squats
1. Can Lead To Dependency
If you rely too heavily on wrist wraps, it can lead to dependency and weaken your wrists over time, especially if you’re neglecting wrist-strengthening exercises altogether.
When using wrist wraps, the muscles of your forearm won't have to work as hard to support the weights.
The muscles of the forearm actively pull the wrists into extension and flexion.
In the low bar squat, the bar pushes back against the hand pushing your wrist into extension, so the muscles of your forearm brace to stabilize by using the muscles responsible for flexion to keep the bar in place.
Wrist wraps brace the wrist and limit how much extension the wrist can achieve, but this also limits how much you have to your forearm muscles to resist this motion.
If having strong forearms is part of your goals, you can strengthen them in other ways by performing specific forearm strengthening exercises.
You could decide to keep your low bar squats only as heavy as your wrists can handle without the use of wrist wraps, but this wouldn’t help you improve your squat.
2. Limits Range Of Motion
Wrist wraps can limit your range of motion and hinder your ability to perform exercises that require a full range of wrist motion.
For most squatters, this isn't really a problem, but some lifters prefer to squat with the bar extremely low on their back because it allows them to squat more weight. To get to this position your wrists would have to be bent back further, which wrist wraps may not allow for.
Not wearing wrist wraps could allow the lifter to get the bar lower on their back and squat more weight, but I don’t recommend this strategy because it dramatically increases the risk of injury to your wrist, especially at heavier weights.
Who Should Wear Wrist Wraps For Squats
Those who would benefit the most from wearing wrist wraps for squats are:
- Those who squat low bar: Low bar squats place more stress on the wrists, making wrist wraps beneficial for those who perform this variation.
- Those with wrist pain while squatting: If you experience wrist pain while squatting, wrist wraps can help alleviate this discomfort and allow you to continue training without pain.
- Those who need extra support to keep their wrists in the proper position: Wrist wraps can help keep your wrists in the proper position while squatting, reducing the strain on your wrists and allowing you to maintain proper technique throughout the exercise.
Who Shouldn't Wear Wrist Wraps For Squats
Those who would not benefit from wearing wrist wraps for squats are:
- Beginners: Beginners shouldn't be going heavy enough to need wrist wraps, and it's essential to focus on building wrist strength and mobility before relying on external aids.
- High bar squatters: Those that squat with the high position are likely not putting enough load on their wrists to need the use of wrist wraps because the weight is sitting on their upper trap.
How To Wear Wrist Wraps For Squats
When wearing wrist wraps for squats, it's essential to position them correctly and wrap them tight enough to maximize their benefits.
Placement & Tightness
Wrapping the wrists tightly creates a more supportive cast-like structure around the joints to ensure that they can withstand the forces being placed upon them.
You will know your wrap is tight enough if you have to force your hand open because the pressure of the wrap is pulling your hand closed.
Make sure the entire wrist joint is covered by wrist wrap and you are not wearing the wrap below the joint.
When To Put Them On
A good rule of thumb is to start using wrist wraps when lifting heavier weights, around 80% of your one-rep max, or whenever discomfort sets in.
I don’t recommend wearing them for warm-ups because I think warm-up sets are a great opportunity to allow the muscles supporting your wrist to work on their own. Once the weights get heavy enough that your muscles need additional support, you can put on your wrist wraps.
Can You Wear Wrist Wraps For Front Squats?
Yes, you can wear wrist wraps for front squats; however, the wrist position is different for front squats than for back squats, so you may need to adjust the way you wear your wrist wraps.
In the front squat, you need greater wrist mobility because your wrists need to bend backward for the bar to sit on the front of your deltoids.
As a result, you won’t be able to wrap your wrist wraps as tightly. You will have to experiment at different levels of tightness to find a level that feels supportive without limiting your mobility.
Advanced lifters who have enough mobility in their upper body can off-load the wrists by having the weight of the bar rest entirely on their shoulders. These lifters won’t need wraps for front squats.
Lifters with less mobility performing front squats will likely require wrist wraps because they will be holding more weight in their wrists.
How To Fix Wrist Pain From Squats
Wrist pain from squats is generally caused by weakness of surrounding musculature or unfavorable positions under heavier loads.
Therefore, the best ways to fix wrist pain are to strengthen the wrists with forearm strengthening exercises and to prevent unfavorable positions by using wrist wraps.
If you're experiencing wrist pain even with the use of wrist wraps, I recommend booking an appointment with a physiotherapist to figure out the cause of the pain and how to address it.
Best Wrist Wrap Options For Squats
Best Wraps For Most Lifters
The best wrist wraps for most lifters are the GymReapers 18-inch wrist wraps.
These wraps are supportive but flexible, making them a great option for back squats or front squats. The 18” wraps are perfect for lifters looking to buy their first pair of wrist wraps, lifters interested in general fitness, or lifters that want to compete in powerlifting.
Two things that set these wrist wraps apart are that they’re approved for powerlifting meets in every federation and they come with a lifetime replacement guarantee.
Best Heavy Duty Wraps
The best wrist wraps for those looking for more heavy-duty support are the GymReapers Stiff Wrist Wraps.
These wraps provide your wrists with maximum levels of support to help you squat as heavily as possible while keeping your wrists protected.
These wraps also come with a lifetime guarantee, so you can be sure that they’ll stand the test of time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Stiffer Wrist Wraps Better For Squats?
In theory, a stiffer wrist wrap could be better for squats because of the heavier loads being placed on the wrist joint and the stiffer wrap could provide more support. However, if the user is not strong enough to wrap the stiffer wrap tightly enough it will end up providing less support.
Are Longer Wrist Wraps Better For Squats?
A longer wrist wrap could be better for squats because the more material there is, the more rotations you’ll get around your wrist, and the tighter they will fit. Shorter wrist wraps are harder to tighten because they need to be pulled tighter since there are fewer rotations around your wrist.
At What Weight Should You Start Wearing Wrist Wraps for Squats?
In general, men could expect to need wrist wraps for squats at 250-300 lbs and women 150-200 lbs. However, rather than an exact weight, you should base your use of wrist wraps on how your wrists feel.
Can You Use The Same Wrist Wraps For Bench Press and Squats?
Yes, you can wear the same wrist wraps for squats and bench presses. If you have a very large squat (600 lb+) you may find you need stiffer or longer wrist wraps for squats than you do for bench press.