Is Your Grip Giving Out Before You Can Blast Your Back? Get Some Quality Lifting Straps and Skyrocket Your Gains and Growth
Consider this scenario. You’re performing a set of heavy one-arm dumbbell rows. You’re going strong, your perfect form is causing your lats to fire away, and you’re about to hit your 12th rep of the set, improving on last week’s performance. Unfortunately, you notice your grip has become looser and looser with every rep and it finally gives out just before your iron victory. Don’t despair. The solution to the problem is obvious and simple, though it takes many lifters (myself included) years to finally solve it.
You’ve Got to Push Yourself
To make continued gains over the years, you’ve got to overload your muscles and introduce them to new stress, whether it be greater poundages, increased time under tension, or other forms of increased intensity. If you keep performing the same exercises with the same weight and intensity you’ll quickly plateau after your initial beginner gains.
Overloading the Back is Difficult
It can be relatively easy to overload muscles like your arms, shoulders, and even your chest and legs. You can utilize machines, drop sets, spotters, and the weights are generally light enough in these exercises that your grip is not a limiting factor. When you’re blasting away at your back, however, you’ll often need heavy weights that your hands just can’t handle. Even if you have a naturally strong grip or have trained and improved it, lifting straps can help you focus on lifting the weight with your back and lats, not your biceps.
Strap Up – An Inexpensive Investment
Out of all the money you spend in your bodybuilding career, simple, inexpensive weightlifting straps may give you the biggest bang for your buck. For under 10 dollars, you’ll be rewarded with the ability to move heavier weights and increase your mind-muscle connection, allowing to you to effectively target the desired muscle. Below are some exercises that really benefit with the use of quality lifting straps.
Deadlifts are perhaps the greatest overall mass builder. They’re a total body movement and allow you to move some serious weight. If you follow a bodybuilding split however, it may be difficult to work traditional deadlifts into your routine. After all, they work your back, your hamstrings, and your glutes in equal measure. Where should you place them?
If you have a specific day dedicated to back, or work your back with your biceps or your chest, you can take a lot of leg activation out of deadlifts by performing them from pins at the knees. Simply find a power rack, set the safety bars at about knee level, stick your rear out and keep a straight back, strap up and lift. You’ll probably be able to go significantly heavier than you do on regular deadlifts. By using lifting straps, you can keep a double overhand grip and help prevent risk of a bicep tear. A good set of heavy rack deadlifts will blow up your back like nothing else.
Another favorite for building an awesome back, one-arm dumbbell rows can be made even more effective by adding a lifting strap. To really feel dumbbell rows, try performing them for one long rest-pause set of 30-40 reps. You’ll do maybe 15 reps, take some deep breaths for 10 seconds, go back for more, and repeat until you’re fried. When you start getting strong and moving up in the weights, it can be hard to hold on to a 100 pound dumbbell or heavier for such a long time without your grip giving out. Strap up and focus on firing your lats.
Here’s another classic exercise that you can strap up for. Whether you’re using dumbbells or barbells, you’re probably using pretty heavy weights for shrugs. Your grip will likely give out before your traps have been overloaded enough to get a get workout.
Straps have their place. They’re an excellent choice for heavy back exercises like those illustrated above. Don’t make the mistake of becoming dependent on them though. You shouldn’t be using straps for your basic barbell curls, or strapping up for a set of pullups. If you overuse them, your grip strength will dwindle and you may lose some forearm size. Like other equipment, lifting straps are tremendous when properly used, but counter-productive when abused.