Lifting Straps v. Lifting Hooks

LIFTING STRAPS OR LIFTING HOOKS – WHICH ONE IS BETTER?

Lifting hooks or lifting straps - which one is better? Are you a weightlifter who wants to lift heavier but aren’t sure if lifting straps or lifting hooks are best? Are you uncomfortable with your grip strength during certain powerlifting exercises? Well here’s a fascinating fact! You’re not alone and there is hope.

Weightlifters build the bodies they want by stimulating targeted muscles through high-intensity workouts, often building stronger forearms as a direct result. However, when attempting to lift heavier weights, people often face two main drawbacks: forearm fatigue and loss of grip strength. This can lead to weightlifters performing exercises incorrectly, particularly the pull workouts, subsequently resulting in little to no activation in the muscles targeted by these exercises. 

If this is starting to sound familiar, don’t worry! We’ve got you!

Weightlifting straps and weight lifting hooks are some of the best weightlifting accessories to supplement a lack of grip strength and can be used to give you the confidence you need to lift heavier weights and hit higher reps. But in order to use them correctly, you need to know your fundamentals! How exactly do these accessories work? What are the differences between weight lifting wrist straps and weight lifting hooks? Which one is better?

We’ve got the answers you’ve been seeking! Get ready to be schooled! 

LIFTING HOOKS

So, exactly what are lifting hooks? Well, lifting hooks or weight lifting hooks are heavy-duty loop straps that are wrapped around your wrists and have metal hooks that you hold in the palms of your hands.  These hooks shift the weight away from your wrists and towards the base of your hands, allowing you to lift heavier weights without relying purely on your grip strength for support.  

To use a lifting hook, simply slide your hand into the loop strap and wrap it around the base of your wrists, holding the metal hook in your palm. Once secured, the barbell or dumbbell can rest comfortably in the metal hook rather than on your palms, allowing you to confidently lift heavier weights.

There are a wide variety of lifting hooks available on the market, with each having a specific function aimed at performing particular exercises. Options include 2-finger lifting hooks, solid hooks, and glove-hook combos. 

So before you vomit from all this info, let us break it down for you a minute.

  • 2 finger lifting hooks are essentially regular lifting hooks with two metal hooks known as “prongs” attached to the wrist strap. The index finger and little finger are placed around the two metal prongs, hence the name “2 finger lifting hooks.”  These hooks are most compatible with dumbbells that have a convex bar, but are normally incompatible with straight bars.
  • Solid hooks have a single, J-shaped metal hook that covers all four fingers, unlike the split design of the 2 finger hooks. The padding in these hooks are designed to give comfort to your wrists, and they are compatible with all kinds of weightlifting bars.
  • Glove-hook combos are very similar to standard lifting hooks, only the position of the hooks can be reversed. While in the reversed position, these hooks can be used as gloves to provide grip support, rather than just regular lifting hooks.

So in a nutshell, lifting hooks are predominantly used by weightlifters who prefer to stimulate their target muscles without having to rely on their grip strength during high-intensity workouts. However, it’s important to keep in mind that lifting hooks do not completely eliminate the need for grip strength. Warning: Don’t just completely relax your grip while using these accessories and hit the snooze button. Lifting hooks are most effective when you use the palms of your hands to support the hooks while you lift. Relaxing your grip too much can cause the loop strap to dig into your wrist, making it uncomfortable to use while working out; not to mention the bar falling on your toe.

Weightlifting hooks should only be used for pull exercises such as deadlifts, shrugs, barbell rows, and cable rows. The purpose of these hooks is to essentially “lift” the weight, therefore they cannot be used for push exercises such as bench presses, lateral raises, shoulder presses, and other similar exercises.

In his article “Sick Sets And Suicides,” popular powerlifting trainer Jason Psquale explained, “Finally we come to the partial deadlift. Set the safety bars so that the barbell is at knee level. Perform the exercise like a normal deadlift pulling the bar up to the stop position. Always use lifting hooks or at least wraps. This exercise is not for developing grip strength; your hands will give out long before your body does.” This is one of many examples in which weightlifting veterans view lifting hooks as a general necessity for the gym.

Now, let’s dive into the overall pros and cons of lifting hooks. 

PROS

  • They shift the weight from your wrist to the base of your hand, removing wrist pressure
  • They will help you to increase your weights so that you can do more sets
  • They help you to target muscles you otherwise won’t be able to grow

CONS 

  • The angle of the lifting hooks makes them unsuitable for executing certain pull exercises 
  • Some lifting hooks are expensive, as they are made of highly durable materials
  • They cannot be used for push exercises

If you’re interested in buying lifting hooks, you should keep a few things in mind before purchasing. Firstly, the pull rating of the lifting hooks should be mentioned in the item’s description. Modern lifting hooks usually have a tag indicating the maximum weight that they can pull. Ideally, your lifting hooks should have a pull rating of over 600 lbs. Secondly, be sure to consider the quality of the material and padding. These are essential in determining the durability of the hooks and how comfortable they will feel on your wrists and palms while lifting.Finally, be sure to decide which size, type, and angle you’re looking for before buying. These are necessary aspects that will determine how comfortable and effective your workouts will be.

lifting straps

LIFTING STRAPS

All right, if you made it this far, you’re obviously ready to take your lifting game to the next level!

Let’s talk about straps, baby!

A lifting strap is similar to a lifting hook in that it has a padded strap that goes around your write however, instead of a hook at the end, it has a long strap of cotton or similar material that is wrapped around the bar for added support. These straps firmly secure your grip and allow you to lift using your full arm strength, keeping your focus on the weights rather than your hands.

The standard lifting strap has a single strap at the end. To use a lifting strap, bring the part of the strap that is closest to your palms to rest on the bar. Then, begin wrapping the opposite end of the strap around the bar. The strap should extend between your thumb and index finger while wrapped around the bar. Once secure, twisting the bar firmly will lock the strap in place and provide the user with absolute gripping power. 

There are two popular varieties of lifting straps: standard straps and figure 8 straps. Standard lifting straps are the ones we described above, which uses a single strap to secure the bar. Figure 8 straps are unique however, in that they have an exquisite double looping design that allows you to wrap the strap around your wrist and bar twice, giving you additional non-slip grip support, since nothing interferes with your grip.

Weightlifting straps are mainly used by powerlifters to secure a firmer grip while lifting heavier weights. The purpose of these straps is to not eliminate your grip strength entirely, but rather to acquire a tighter grip when working with heavier weights. While lifting hooks substitute the need for developed forearm strength, lifting straps rely entirely on your forearm strength during high-intensity workouts. This makes lifting straps better for acquiring a stronger grip and targeting specific muscles.

Standard powerlifting straps are generally used for various pull exercises such as deadlifts, shrugs, barbell rows, curls, reverse flies, cable rows, pull-ups, and lat pulldowns. Figure 8 lifting straps, on the other hand, are specifically designed for executing deadlifts. Similar to lifting hooks, straps cannot be used for push exercises.

A recent study conducted by exercise scientist Victor S. Coswig determined that “the usage of lifting straps directly influenced exercise performance that required manual grip strength, increasing the amount of work performed by the target muscles. It has been scientifically proven to aid the weightlifters to achieve their desired end.” For any aspiring powerlifters out there, it seems like a good lifting strap should be something to get your hands on as soon as possible.

Now that we know the facts, let’s quickly go over the pros and cons of lifting straps:

PROS

  • Lifting straps can be used for various pull exercises, making them highly versatile. 
  • Straps rely on your forearm strength so they also aid in increasing your grip strength
  • They are comparatively cheaper to lifting hooks

CONS

  • Lifting straps require a lot of set up time which can interrupt your workouts
  • Not recommended for beginners
  • Straps cannot be used for push exercises

If all that sounds appealing to you and you’re ready to pick up a pair of straps for yourself, here are a few things to keep in mind before purchasing. Firstly, as with lifting hooks, be sure to look into the material and quality of the straps themselves. While most straps are made of cotton, certain unique straps are made of a premium neoprene-cotton blend that provides added flexibility. Secondly, if you are looking to maximize your deadlifting capacity, you should probably go for figure 8 lifting straps rather than standard straps as you will be entirely dependent on your grip strength.

HOOKS VS STRAPS - WHICH ONE TO BUY? 

So, now that we have explored all the details pertaining to lifting hooks and lifting straps, the question still remains: which is better?

The answer is simple (drumroll please): it depends. 

If you want to lift heavier weights during high-intensity workouts that specifically target the and isolate certain muscles, then lifting hooks are most likely your best option. However, if you’re just looking to secure your hold while powerlifting without compromising your grip, lifting straps should be just what you need.

Lifting straps can be used for almost any pull exercise, making them the most versatile option, but they lack the enhanced power that lifting hooks can provide for exercises such as deadlifts, shrugs, cable rows, and barbell rows.

If you really want to improve your grip power, develop stronger forearms, stimulate your target muscles, and lift heavier weights during high-intensity workouts, then the best option would be to go for both lifting hooks and lifting straps. It simply depends on the needs of each individual and his or her specific purpose for using weightlifting accessories.

If you want to find high-quality lifting straps and heavy-duty lifting hooks, check out RIMSports’ line of weightlifting accessories. Our lifting straps and hooks are the best on the market and would make the perfect addition to any weightlifter’s gym bag!

If you enjoyed this blog, please share it and give us your feedback in the comments section below. 

Happy lifting, friends!


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