Are Lifting Straps Better Than Gloves?
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I will give my own opinion from my own experiences and I will examine the cases where it would be suitable to use straps or gloves.
Are Lifting Straps Better Than Gloves?
Straps are excellent for high volume pulling movements to prevent your hands from getting torn up. They are also a great tool to use when you want to take your grip strength out of the equation on a particular exercise. By using straps you can overload the muscles.
Gloves however don’t serve much utility in training. They actually make the bar thicker and harder to grip. It is just not a natural way of training, developing calluses is a sign that you lift weights and something to be proud of.
The only real benefit gloves can serve is in regards to hygiene, if you train in a busy commercial gym and don’t want to touch lots of bars with your bare hands.
Neither Are Preferable
For the vast majority of people that lift weights at the gym, neither using lifting straps or gloves is preferable. This is because you want to develop your grip strength – if you constantly use straps you are not developing your grip strength to its fullest potential.
It is true that many bodybuilders use straps occasionally, this is fine but it is important not to become overly reliant on them. In the same ways, gloves don’t really serve any purpose, you don’t want to have really soft hands.
Callused hands are a sign of strength and someone who lifts weights regularly. If you focus on keeping the bar close to your fingers on pulling exercises, and in the palm of your hand on pushing exercises, you won’t have overly ripped up hands.
The reasons why some people develop a lot more calluses is because they are gripping the bar incorrectly. Using chalk can also help to minimise calluses.
Straps Are Better For High Volume Training
If you don’t want to pull with a hook grip and normally use a mixed grip, then using straps in your training on deadlifts and heavy rows will help to prevent muscle imbalances.
Pete Rubish is a big fan of using straps when doing a high volume of deadlifts frequently in his routine. Alphadestiny in the video below also makes the case for using straps for volume pulling work.
You can always do dedicated grip work on the side such as using hand grippers or doing heavy farmers walks for time. To read my guide on which hand grippers are best click here.
The Case For Gloves
One of the best bodybuilders in history, Ronnie Coleman, wore gloves regularly. So it can’t be said that gloves are only for sissies. However, from my point of view there is very little utility in wearing them.
From a hygiene perspective, gloves can be useful if you don’t want to touch barbells with your bare hands. However, that is where the benefits end.
Many people wear gloves because they want to avoid calluses. If you learn how to grip the bar correctly on pulling and pushing movements and use chalk, your calluses won’t get out of control.
In addition, by avoiding using gloves you will have a lot more control of the weight when training. Close contact to barbells or dumbbells is essential to have maximum control. Gloves make the bar thicker effectively and you don’t have the same contact.
There is a good article by byrdie about whether you need to wear weight lifting gloves. You can read it here.
Overall, it is clear that lifting straps are far superior to gloves. Straps are legally allowed for certain sports like Strongman. Despite strongmen using straps they have some of the strongest grips in the world.
This is because they do lots of dedicated grip work and are lifting objects of all shapes and sizes regularly. Powerlifters on the other hand should only use straps when doing volume pulling movements or exercises like heavy shrugs and RDLs.
Heavy barbell rows are another exercise where straps can serve an important purpose. When it comes to gloves, there are simply few good reasons to use them. You are far better served by training with your bare hands and using chalk when you need.
The only time I trained with gloves was when I was a newbie at age 16, I quickly learnt that it is far superior to train with your bare hands. Your hands will get a lot tougher and adapt to the demands that you impose.
If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!