Things I Think I Know – Using Straps

“Things I Think I Know” is a series of guest posts by Emevas, who already introduced you to the ROM Progression Method.

In the series he touches on various subjects he learned during his years of training. You might agree or disagree with what he writes, but above all I hope that his posts will make you reflect upon your own training.

Questions & opinions in the comments. Update: Discussion on Reddit

Who is Emevas?

I have been lifting weights since I was 14. I have been making mistakes the entire time. Just when I think I have it all figured out, I learn that everything I know is wrong.

I have fallen victim to dogma multiple times, from people who know, people who think they know, and people who know they don’t know.

There are multiple thoughts and theories out there, and many of them are right some of the time, but none of them are right all of the time.

I have compiled a list of thoughts I have on training that spit in the face of a lot of conventional wisdom, but it wasn’t until I broke through that dogma that I was able to push my limits and succeed.

Before I start, allow me to clarify who I am, in order for you to decide if I am worth listening to. I am 26 years old, and have competed in both the 198lb and 181b class in raw powerlifting.

My videos are on youtube under the channel name Emevas if you are interested in seeing my lifts personally.

My best competition lifts include a 485lb squat and 584lb deadlift in the 181 class, and a 342lb bench in the 198 class. I have pulled 600lbs in training as well.

Before getting into powerlifting, I fought (poorly) in MMA, trained in boxing/muay thai, wrestled in high school, played one terrible season of football, did Tae Kwon Do from ages 8-17, failed at pee wee hockey (but still trained for 1-2 years), and was too fat for pop-warner football. I am good at being terrible at many things, but I believed they helped me lay down a foundation of athleticism that assisted me in powerlifting.

On to the list, and my explanation of each item as they apply.

Use Straps On Any Movement You Can (Within Reason)

Iron Mind Easy Sew Lifting StrapsWithin reason means things like deadlifts, rows, pulldowns, and other movements of the like. Don’t strap up for pressing, curls, leg presses, etc.

“Straps are for pussies. Just use mixed grip on deadlifts. Otherwise, your grip will get weaker.”

Here is the thing: most commercial gyms just plain suck.

You’ll never find a bar with real knurling on it, and if you do, it’ll be filed down the next time you train. Additionally, these same gyms will forbid you from bringing in chalk, mainly because we all still have PTSD from chalkboards in elementary school (that reason makes just as much sense as what any gym will tell you, so just go with it).

With these two factors playing against you, good luck getting a grip on anything in the gym in the first place, and this is assuming you aren’t a sweaty bastard like me in the first place. Factor in a sweaty grip and it’s game over anyway. In these situations, straps are forgivable even for the meatheads, because you aren’t using a handicap, you are leveling the playing field.

That said, the biggest argument against using straps is that it weakens your grip.

This is true if and only if your only form of grip training is your other gym lifts. But someone who is actually legitimately concerned about grip strength is going to find this reasoning laughable, because you should be engaged in far more serious grip training than simply whatever happens when you are deadlifting or rowing. If you are worried about grip strength (which you should be), do some real grip work.

Get some captains of crush grippers and train them hard after your workout or on non-training days (not before deadlifts), do some plate pinches, throw in some farmer’s walks and build some legitimate skull crushing grip and popeye forearms.

The same guys that are worried about straps robbing grip strength tend to honestly have terrible grip strength, whereas World’s Strongest Man competitors, who use straps on deadlifts, have insane grip strength due to their grip training.

Additionally, straps serve the benefit of permitting for much more substantial lat recruitment in rowing and pulldowns compared to being strapless.

I have a video series on youtube that goes over lat recruitment in more detail, but essentially, you recruit the lats by pulling with the elbows, not the hands. By using straps, you can completely bypass the hands as a link in your pulling and ensure that it is your lats that are moving the weight, not your hands/arms.

After strapping up for everything, I broke new barriers in my deadlift (going from 525 to 585 in 8 months) and actually developed a set of lats. Buy nice, don’t buy twice. Get the ironmind “strong enough straps” and never look back. It’s good enough for Derek Poundstone, so it’s good enough for you.

Want to guest post on All Things Gym? Contact me.

  • Chris Moore

    Nice contribution. The grip arguments are always so silly. Look, the average guy will likely never out pull his grip on a 1 RM attempt. I think it’s quite rare. Also, lots of top shelf lifters use wraps daily. They’re a good idea, like a light belt on max attempts, weightlifting shoes, and knee sleeves. Why would doing more weight for more reps, without tearing up your shit, ever be considered a bad thing?

    • GregorATG

      Exactly my thoughts. The things you mentioned should belong in everyones gym bag.

  • Anton Viberg

    Great article! And now some useless facts: i’ve got the ironmind straps, they are great :)

    • GregorATG

      :) Yes they are.

  • Angela The Geek

    I made my own lifting straps out of rock climbing webbing. They only cost $1.08 and work GREAT! I taped the ends together, but others sew them.

  • Robert Rogers

    A logical argument for the use of straps. I was a big fan of straps but shy ed away from them due to similar “your grip will weaken” scoldings. It makes sense, I mean every time you see the big time olympic lifters pulling off blocks they tend to be strapped in. I think I’ll pull them out of the old gym bag next session.

    • GregorATG

      Nice to hear that.