You’re no doubt aware that the lifting community comes with a plethora of differing opinions regarding all things to do with weightlifting...
Enter the great lifting gloves debate.
It’s been going on for years, with plenty of pros and cons on either side of the argument, but ultimately it comes down to personal choice.
As you build muscle, progressive overload becomes easier, but in the meantime, whilst you're seeing how far you can push your strength, it might be worth getting your hands on some lifting accessories to help get a grip on those heavy lifts.
So whether you’re new to lifting or well versed; here’s a refresher on the benefits of lifting gloves, wrist straps, and wrist wraps, the cons, and the best exercises to use these accessories for.
Weightlifting gloves are an accessory that at some point, a lot of us lifters will turn to. Designed to support and protect the hands whilst lifting barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells; they are suitable for all levels of lifter and come in a variety of styles.
Types Of Lifting Gloves:
Full coverage gloves are gloves that cover the whole hand providing full protection when weightlifting.
Fingerless lifting gloves cover half the fingers and allow for more flexibility during your lift.
Fingerless lifting gloves with wrist wraps cover only the palm and half the fingers and provide extra wrist support from the wrist wrap.
Benefits of Lifting Gloves
The main benefits of lifting gloves are to provide comfort when lifting weights, protect the hands and help prevent you from developing calluses and blisters.
Here are some more benefits of using weightlifting gloves:
Stabilize and Support - Wearing lifting gloves with wrist straps helps to stabilize and support the wrists due to the straps keeping the wrists in a neutral position. This can help prevent injury because it ensures the wrist is correctly placed on the bar and helps to prevent hyperextension.
Improve Grip - Lifting gloves are designed to provide a better grip when holding on to heavy weights. With slippy sweaty hands as a potential issue to keeping a good hold on the bar, training gloves come in handy because they are designed with padding on the palm to ensure a secure grip on your weights.
Added Volume - Due to the added support and stabilization, training gloves allow you to increase the duration and volume of your lift. Your muscle strength will most likely exceed your grip strength at a given time, and training gloves take the pressure off your hands, allowing you to go beyond your grip capacity and lift heavier for longer.
Rehabilitation - Training gloves with wrist supports can allow you to return to lifting quicker after injury, this is because the wrist is stabilized which can help to aid recovery of the problem wrist by taking the pressure off the wrist joint. Over time your wrist will heal and strengthen from being kept in the correct form.
Protection - For those with skin conditions, allergies or open cuts, training gloves can help to
protect the skin if these issues would worsen by touching the metals gripping weights with exposed skin.
Hygiene - If hygiene is a big concern for you (a valid concern after covid) then training gloves may help alleviate some anxieties. It’s true that gyms can be a breeding ground for germs, and if someone not wiping the bar after use, it might be a good idea to have an extra layer of protection between you and the bar.
Cons of using Lifting Gloves:
What comes up must come down, and just as there are benefits to using lifting gloves, there are also potential cons.
Dependency - The main concern people have with weightlifting gloves is the potential to develop a dependency on them. Many see becoming reliant on gloves for your workout as a problem as it decreases the adaptability of your workouts.
Negatively Impact Form - Another concern is how it can worsen your form. Using gloves to ensure your form is correct for certain exercises could potentially mean you get used to performing the exercise with gloves which can differ from the natural technique due to the extra material and positioning of the bar that the padding of the gloves creates.
Weaken Grip Strength - You can lose your natural grip strength as you are losing the ability to fully squeeze the bar. This can be confusing as whilst wearing gloves can definitely help you get a better grip, the extra layer between you and the bar can actually make it harder to get a good grip. If you want to truly develop your organic grip strength you need your hands to feel what you are lifting.
Best exercises to use Lifting Gloves For:
Using gloves however you wish is personal preference, and we think the best exercises to use lifting gloves are those that involve heavy weightlifting with dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, or the use of a bar.
Wrist Wraps vs Wrist Straps: what’s the difference?
Wrist wraps are pieces of fabric that wrap around the wrist, usually secured by velcro, that can also be found attached to lifting gloves. They wrap around the wrists to offer support to the wrist whilst lifting, ensuring stabilization and correct wrist placement on the weight or bar.
Wrist straps or lifting straps are designed to help with grip strength and wrap around the palm of your hand and the bar. They offer respite for your palms from the tension caused by gripping the bar during heavy weightlifting.
Benefits of Wrist Wraps
Wrist Stability - The wrist is kept in a neutral position when wearing wrist wraps which helps with proper form when holding the bar or weights and prevents overextension of the wrist.
Pain Prevention - If you have weak wrists, wearing wrist wraps can help prevent pain in the wrists as it takes some pressure off the joints and provides added support.
Increased Strength - With this added support, you may find you are able to push your wrist and forearm strength beyond normal capabilities when wearing wrist wraps.
Recovery - Aids in recovery and allows you to return faster to lifting with an injury, as the wrist wrap offers support and can help rehabilitate the wrist whilst performing lifting movements, placing less stress through the joint and surrounding muscles.
Cons of using Wrist Wraps:
Dependency - Similar to wearing lifting gloves, you risk becoming reliant on the wrist wraps to perform your lifts. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but will stop you from developing your natural wrist strength.
Best exercises to Use Wrist Wraps For:
Since the main function of a wrist, the wrap is to provide support for the wrists, the best exercises to benefit from using wrist wraps for are heavy pressing exercises that put a lot of pressure on your wrists. Such as; bench press, shoulder press, clean and jerk, and overhead press.
Wrist Straps (Lifting Straps)
The least controversial lifting accessory, and most commonly used across all abilities is the lifting strap, designed to enhance grip and support the wrist joint.
Benefits of Wrist Straps
Increase Volume - Wrist straps help you lift more weight than usual as the material strap wrapped around your bar and wrist helps to redistribute the weight away from your palm. This allows you to lift heavier and for longer to reach your muscular failure as your strength often overtakes your grip strength capacity.
Increase Grip - Bridge the gap between wearing gloves and not and provide some protection for the hand whilst not being necessary for every lifting exercise, and can be prioritized for heavy pulling movements.
Protection - Helps prevent callouses and reduces pain in the hands.
Develop Strength - This can help to improve your wrist and forearm strength.
Cons of using Wrist Straps:
As with wrist wraps, using lifting straps frequently poses the potential to become over-reliant and decrease your natural grip strength over time.
Best exercises to use Wrist Straps For:
Wrist straps are best saved for heavy deadlifts, lat pulldowns, and rows that are increasing the weight to the point you're grip may start failing before your strength, as well as chin-ups.
As we can see through this breakdown of lifting accessories, the general consensus is that they can be beneficial to a certain extent, but can hinder natural grip and wrist strength if you become too dependent on them.
Whatever it is that can help you perfect your form, lift heavier, or feel more confident in the gym, is completely your prerogative.
Trying to up your one-rep max or finding the bar slipping out of your hands? Why not check out our lifting accessories range for lifting gloves, wrist wraps, and lifting straps so you can get that perfect pull.