5 Things to Know About Using Your Weight Belt AND Wrist Straps Together
by: Maxwell Sanchez
Being a well prepared fitness individual is key. So is knowing when and how to use the proper gym accessories that you have in your gym bag!
A carpenter would not go to work without his hammer and nails in his toolbox. Same is true for any weight lifter. You should never arrive to the gym without your weightlifting belt and wrist straps in your gym bag. Weight belts and wrist straps are a must have in everyone’s gym “tool box” bag. Individually, they help you get to new levels. Combined, however, they are a staple equipment that can help you get those extra few reps and build serious mass. There is some confusion about when and how to properly use these “tools” together. Here are 5 things you need to know about using your weightlifting belt AND wrist straps together.
USE THEM TO BUILD "ROME"
Weight belts and wrist straps should be used on your heaviest sets to help you build muscle by pushing those last few reps. Your grip and forearm strength is not nearly as strong as your leg muscles or back muscles, so you do not want to sacrifice the last 2-3 reps because your grip gives out. Additionally, keeping your abs tight for the duration of a 500 lb deadlift might be very hard to do for you. This is when your weight belt comes into play to help you stay tight throughout the set and prevent injury.
PULL YOUR WEIGHT
Using your “tools” should be used at the right time. Aside from your heaviest set, your tools will be called upon during pulling exercises. Deadlifts, rack-pulls, bent over rows, lat pull-downs, and shrugs are just to name a few. These exercises will require you to “strap up” with your belt and wrist straps. Heavy squats or heavy bench press would not call for wrist straps but would call for your weight belt to be used but that is another article all together.
DO NOT TRY TO BE A FASHION TREND
Walking around with your weight belt on and wrapping your wrist-straps over every machine/dumbbell is a big NO-NO! At no point, should you be using a weight belt and wrapping your wrist straps around 5 lb dumbbells that you plan to curl. Besides the fact that you look silly doing crunches with your weight belt on, wearing your weight belt all the time actually decreases your core strength. Additionally, your grip and forearm strength begin to decrease if you are using your wrist straps every time.
You want to minimize the use of your “tools” as much as possible. It is important to work on your small muscles, i.e., abs and grip/forearms too. Strengthen these little muscles so you do not need to rely on your “tools” every time for every exercise.
WOMEN ARE STRONG TOO
If you are a female, having a weight belt and wrist straps is a must too. Everything mentioned here applies to every person; male or female. Females who think or feel they will get “bulking” using these "tools" must understand it takes more than these 2 “tools” to build muscle. Building muscle requires proper caloric nutrition and a surplus of calories. If you have plateaued on your deadlifts, get yourself a set of “tools” and watch yourself break through that plateau.
PROPER FORM IS KEY; DON'T GET SLOPPY
Just because you are using your “tools”, it does not mean it is open season to get sloppy. Aside from the possibility of causing an injury, when form is compromised, you activate other muscles that are assisting your movement and you are taking focus away from the actual muscle you want to stress. Since you should only be using your “tools” during your heaviest sets, it is crucial, more than ever, you focus on your form. It is better to get 3-6 proper reps vs 10-12 sloppy reps. If you get an injury, you might be out longer than you would want.
Follow these 5 rules and in no time you will have a great balance in big muscles and small muscles.