Straps, Pads, Belts, and Gloves

strapAlthough this is an editorial post of my thoughts and opinions on whether to use weightlifting straps, belts, pads and gloves, it is based on research and my years of experience.

Starting with the easy one – using a bar pad while executing a back squat.  We do not have any bar pads in the weight room, and I do not like the athletes using them when they squat.  If you put a pad on the bar, it immediately rolls the bar up higher on the neck, forcing the head down, and in turn your butt out.  Remember the checklist – posture, stand tall.   Typically all our athletes get used to having the bar resting across their traps/ delts and have no need for a pad.

Most of our athletes do not use gloves when they lift.  When they first begin, they do go through the transition from getting blisters to developing calluses, but that period does not last long.  Most of our athletes, men and women, consider their calluses a “badge of honor”.

Typically, athletes that use a belt while squatting are having strength or stability issues in their lower back.  If they always use a belt, then they are not allowing those muscles to develop enough to support the weight they are attempting to lift.  We encourage our athletes NOT to use belts daily when they are completing their squat portion of the workout.  The only exception to that is when they completing their “heavy” day squat workout, we allow them to use belts.  That way for the majority of their days and workouts they are strengthening and developing the stabilizing muscles they use when they squat.  On their “heavy” day squat (which in our weekly workout is Tuesday), if they choose, they can use the belt (some just use it on their last set or two), which, if nothing else, gives them the mental confidence to complete the workout.

When we do hang clean, or power clean, we are working to develop lower body explosion.   A side benefit of doing the clean is grip strength.  In a sport like football or wrestling, the ability to grab and hold an opponent is without a doubt important.  But, as I mentioned, the MAIN thing that we are trying to develop with the clean is lower body explosion.  On our “heavy” day on clean (which in our weekly workout is Friday) , we go to failure.  I don’t want the failure that stops our athletes from completing the workout to be their grip failing.  If straps can help our athletes complete their “heavy” day workout, then I am good with that.  Just like with a belt, we encourage our athletes to only use straps on their “heavy” clean day.  That way, they can work on developing their grip along with their lower body explosion two out of the three days they are doing their clean.

Thanks for reading – if you have any questions, just comment or email.

Jeff Floyd –

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