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HOW TO USE WRIST WRAPS

Updated: 13 July 2024

WHAT ARE WRIST WRAPS?

Wrist wraps provide support and stability to your wrist joints during heavy lifting, keeping them in a neutral position to reduce the risk of injuries. They help you to lift heavier weights more safely and direct more force through your body to the barbell. Wrist wraps are a good investment if you’re lifting near your max effort, and you want to protect your lift or squeeze out a bigger lift. 


You can use wrist wraps during heavy lifts like bench press, overhead press, and squats. I love using wrist wraps for barbell bench press. Beginners can use them to build strength safely, while advanced lifters can push their limits with added wrist support. If you are an absolute beginner, its recommended to learn the lift technique before adding any other gym accessory. 
Wrist wraps and lifting straps are often confused but serve different purposes: wrist wraps provide support and stability to the wrist joint during heavy lifting, reducing the risk of injury, while lifting straps enhance grip strength by securing your grip on the barbell or dumbbell, allowing you to lift heavier without your grip failing.


Boxing wrist wraps and lifting wrist wraps serve different purposes. Boxing wraps are longer and thinner to protect the hand and wrist during punches, while lifting wraps are thicker and stiffer for stabilising the wrist during weightlifting. 
 

BENEFITS OF WRIST WRAPS

Wrist wraps offer several benefits. They help stabilise the wrist joint, reducing the risk of injury and allowing you to lift heavier weights more safely. By keeping your wrists in a neutral position, they also help improve your form and performance in various lifts. They allow you direct the more force generated through your body into the weights, without that effort ‘leaking out’ as your body tries to stabilise the barbel. 


However, they do have some disadvantages. Over-reliance on wrist wraps may weaken the wrist muscles and tendons over time, as they might not get as much engagement during lifts. That’s why it’s recommended to use not always use wrist wraps every time you go to the gym. Wrist wraps shouldn’t be a substitute for lifting technique.


Personally, I use wrist wraps only when I am testing my 1 RM or I will wear them loose when doing warm up sets to keep my wrists warm in my ‘warm up sets’.
 

HOW TO CHOOSE A WRIST WRAP

When choosing wrist wraps, consider the length. Longer wraps provide more support and can be wrapped around the wrist multiple times, while shorter quicker to put on.

Stiff wraps offer more support but might be less comfortable, especially for longer workouts. Less stiff wraps provide a balance between support and comfort. Choose based on the type of lifts you perform – some people prefer stiff wraps for heavy, max effort lifts, and less stiff wraps for higher rep workouts. 

 

I personally like a longer wrist wrap that is a ‘standard stiffness’, then you can choose how much support you need by wrapping it around more times. It also feels a bit more comfortable in my opinion.


Most wrist wraps now come with a thumb loop, which helps keep the wrap in place while you're wrapping it around your wrist. My personal preference is to use ones with a thumb loop, I usually use that to help me wrap around my wrist, then take my thumb out after its tight. 

 

HOW TO WEAR WRIST WRAPS PROPERLY

The aim is to cover the joint and reduce wrist movement. They should be tight enough to provide support but not so tight that they cut off circulation. For heavy lifts, wear them tighter for maximum support; for lighter or higher-rep sets, a bit looser for comfort. When lifting heavy and you are waring them tight, it’s a good idea to take them off between sets. 

Ensure they don’t come undone during lifts. Secure the Velcro properly and check before each set. 

1.  Starting with your preferred hand, placing the thumb loop over your thumb (if your wraps have one).


2. Begin wrapping around your wrist, making sure the wrap covers the wrist joint completely. 
Avoid wrapping anywhere that will touch the barbell, such as your palms or your fingers).  Wrap tightly, but ensure you're not cutting off circulation.


3.    Secure the end of the wrap with the Velcro.

Ensure that you have reduced movement in your wrist.

 

4.    Then wrap your other hand.


5.    Remove the loop from your wrist


6.    Grip the bar. 
If your wrap is touching the bar, try it again. Grip the bar as hard as you can when performing the lift.
 

USING WRIST WRAPS FOR SQUAT 

Wrist wraps can be used for squats to support and stabilise the wrists. If you low bar squat, this puts more stress on your wrists, so you can benefit more greatly. 
Some people might use wrist wraps for front squats, however the wrist position is different to back squats, so you might wear them less tight. 
Personally, I don’t wear wraps as tight as I do when performing bench press. See what works for you, what is comfortable and ensures you keep the correct form.
 

AND FOR DEADLIFT 

If you are looking to increase your deadlift, try using Lifting Straps. Wrist wraps won’t help you lift more, but in my experience, they can protect your wrists from bending in the situation you are doing multiple reps with bumper plates. 

Related: The best 7 deadlift grips explained

 

WHAT EXERCISES TO USE WRIST WRAPS

Wrist wraps are best for pushing exercises like bench press and overhead press, where wrist stability is crucial. As mentioned earlier they can be used for squats (especially low bar squats).

WHICH SPORTS?

Wrist wraps are widely used in various strength sports:

Powerlifting: In weightlifting and powerlifting, they help lifters handle heavier weights safely.

 

Weightlifting / Olympic Lifting: In Olympic lifting, they provide the necessary wrist support for lifts like the snatch and clean and jerk.

 

Bodybuilding: Bodybuilders use wrist wraps during heavy lifting phases to prevent wrist injuries and maintain proper form.

 

CrossFit: Wrist wraps are good to protect your wrists when doing high reps and using bumper plates. If you are doing squats or bench – throw them in your gym bag too. 
 

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? 

Do wrist wraps help bench press?

For sure, read the section above about ‘how to use wrist wraps’ to ensure you use them properly. 

Are you allowed to use wrist wraps in competitions?

Yes for Bench, Deadlifting & Squat. However, some have a max width of 8cm and length of between 1m and 61cm. For Australian Powerlifters, check out the Powerlifting Australia Rules of Competition.

Are wrist wraps worth it?

Yes, if you are serious about your bench press and squat, they are great investment. 

Do they help with forearm pain?

Some people say using wrist wraps may help with forearm paint, however be sure to check with your doctor if you are in pain.

How much do wrist wraps help with bench?

Assuming you are wearing them correctly, you could potentially bench 1-7% more weight. Give it a go and see how you go!

Are wrist wraps considered raw?

No, raw refers to lifting without weightlifting belts, sleeves or wrist wraps. 

Do wrist wraps help with carpal tunnel?

Wrist wraps aren’t designed to help with carpal tunnel. We recommend speaking to your doctor about this.

Are wrist wraps necessary

They are not critical, but they are great tool to take your training to the next level.

Title

CONTENT AUTHOR:

Adam B. / Director, Turtle Strength

 

Adam is passionate about powerlifting, strength training and digital marketing. Created Turtle Strength to find the best possible product to meet the needs of training. 

SWEAT. BLOOD & LIFTING GEAR.

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