When it comes to working out with weights, like any form of exercise, there are some techniques and theories behind it. Many weightlifters opt for using straps that enable them to focus on the pull of the weights, rather than their grip on the bar.
However, you may have a question; Are straps allowed in Olympic weightlifting? The simple answer is Not; they are not allowed in competition. But they are perfect help in weightlifting workout by wrapping them around the wrists and the weight bar.
What is Weightlifting Straps?
Weightlifting straps are generally 1-to-1.5 inches wide and 12-to-18 inches long. They can be made out of nylon, canvas, or leather. Nylon and canvas are sturdier and hold their shape longer than leather, but leather straps are said to give lifters a little give, especially in clean lifting.
A ‘clean’ is a form of weightlifting where lifters lift the barbell clean off the ground to a racked position without first resting on the clavicles; instead, the barbell is lifted clean off the floor up to the deltoids.
In a clean lift, the give of leather straps allows for more of a bend in the wrists; rigid materials like nylon and canvas can result in straining the wrist. In terms of pull variations and/or lifting off the blocks, any of the aforementioned strap materials are suitable.
What Purpose do Weightlifting Straps Serve?
The idea behind weightlifting straps is that the lifter can focus solely on the pull of the weights, rather than the grip on the barbell. There is a lot of debate that accompanies the choice of when and how to use straps. Some people feel that relying on straps to strengthen the grip does not result in the lifter cultivating the skills of being able to focus on the pull while having a correct grip dually.
Others suggest that as lifters’ grips weaken over long workouts and switching between cleans, snatches, hangs and jerks, the use of straps helps preserve the lifters’ form. When lifters are tired and start to lose their proper form, injuries can result. Lifters can lift heavier amounts, while not sacrificing their form, thanks to the power of weightlifting straps.
When Should Weightlifting Straps be Used?
When it comes to the clean and jerk and the snatch, these Olympic lifts require the use of straps. The main purpose of straps is for pulling the barbells from the blocks, and the blocks serve to break down the lifts into their portions and sections.
When blocks are stacked at varying heights for practicing each placement and position along the bar, some aspects of a full pull are removed so that the lifter can focus on each stage of the pull.
Straps help keep the lifters’ grip strong to prevent the bar slipping. During the pull portion, the weightlifter’s hands are kept securely on the bar. When the bar slips in the lifters’ hands, proper form is lost, and the pull is lost. By the way, if are you interested in buying straps, you can check prices on this Amazon.com link.
Cleans and Snatches
Straps are not encouraged for use during cleans or snatches as knowing how to use straps in actual lifts takes a lot of experience and time. If straps are misused, a wrist that is incorrectly wrapped in a strap can weaken the grip strength, result in the loss of proper form, and the failure of the pull.
When it comes to cleans, using straps has the danger of giving the lifter a false sense of security and tricking the nervous system into believing it can match the weight when, in reality, the lifter does not have enough strength to match the weight.
The hook grip can be used most any time and on either Olympic lifts, but straps can’t be used in all instances, and this is why it’s essential for a lifters’ grip to be strong on its own.
While straps are good for building a lifter’s confidence, improper use can lead to sprained or broken wrists. What is advised is in the case of power cleans, even experienced lifters should only wrap the strap once around the bar so that if a quick release is necessary due to a failed catch, a wrist injury or strain can be avoided.
Recommendation for Using Weightlifting Straps
When it comes to using weightlifting straps, the recommendations differ depending on the experience of the weightlifter. For beginner lifters, it is suggested not to use straps until they have developed their strong grip, generally after three months.
For intermediate lifters, it is recommended to use straps for warm-ups, but only on pulls and deadlifts, and only use them right off the blocks. For advanced lifters, it is recommended that they don’t use straps for at least one or two weeks after a competition.
Using Wrist Straps in Olympic Weightlifting
When it comes to Olympic weightlifting, training and competing are two very different sides of the same coin. When it comes to competition rules, weightlifters are allowed to compete with tape, a belt (Amazon link), wrist wraps, weightlifting shoes (Amazon link), and knee sleeves but not with wrist straps. Many weightlifters choose to opt for hook lifts as it allows for lifting heavier amounts, but those heavy lifts can wreak havoc on the wrists.
That is why many choose to train with the wrist wraps to save their wrists for as long as they can, and then when they are competing in the Olympics, they do the hook lift solo, while some use tape or gloves.
Training with Wrist Straps
Most Olympic athletes use wrist straps while training about 75 percent of the time; those who choose to use them feel they are saving the strain on their wrists for the actual competitions.
As I mentioned above, the use of wrist straps is not permitted when competing in the Olympics. As they can be used to jerk the bar up for the lift, rather than fully indicating the strength and skill of the weightlifter.
To cultivate good wrist grips and position on the bar, it is recommended that weightlifters train with and without the use of straps so they are preventing the overstrain that can injure wrists, while also building up their strength and skill, so the straps don’t become a crutch.
When to Use Wrist Wraps with Weightlifting
While weightlifters are divided on the use of wrist wraps, there are instances where lifters say wraps have a lot to offer. For many weightlifters, early in their careers when they are lifting their heaviest amounts, they do so without the use of wraps.
At that point, they have cultivated proper form and grip. As lifters age, they feel the aches and pains of strain just as anyone does. For lifters that are starting to feel the strain in their wrists, the adoption of wrist wraps can help ease that discomfort, and that is why many of the world’s best weightlifters opt for using wrist wraps.
Who Should use Wrist Wraps when Weightlifting?
People who find that their wrists are getting sore to the point where they can’t tolerate the pain of lifting should consider adding wrist wraps to their weightlifting arsenal. In this case, wraps that are not too bulky and are flexible are recommended.
Flexible wraps are easier to get out of in the event of a slip. While some lifters choose to use tape over wraps, this can be an expensive and inflexible option that many lifters dislike.
Weightlifters seem to agree on one thing across the board: if you can lift weights without the use of additional equipment like wrist wraps, belt, and knee wraps, you should do so.
Natural aging can change the need for equipment, but to cultivate proper form and technique, lifters advise beginners to go as long as they can without the use of these add-ons until pain or age demand otherwise.
Also, individuals who have trouble right off the bat with keeping a firm and secure grip on the bar should try to master it without, but if it comes down to quitting or using wrist wraps, using wrist wraps is a favorable alternative.
Regarding the question, “Are straps allowed in Olympic weightlifting,” the answer is no, they are not allowed in competition, but many weightlifters do choose to train with them to ready them for those competitions.
As is the case with most forms of exercise, there are always different pieces of equipment, strategies, and techniques that some athletes choose to use, while others prefer to go as long without as they can.
Sometimes age and injury come into play, and in those cases, athletes need to use certain equipment to prevent further strain and injury while allowing them to continue in the activity they love. Competitions have strict rules in place regarding lifts, clothing, and all aspects of equipment that can be used.
These restrictions are put in place to protect the athletes and also for grading purposes for the judges. Competition standards are guidelines that allow the judges to fully see and gauge each weightlifter’s skill, form, and lifting abilities.
Here you can read my previous post about “What Accessories Should I Use In Weightlifting?”
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