March 15, 2021

How To Use Weightlifting Wrist Wraps

I’ve suffered wrist injuries and wrist pain throughout my time Weightlifting. I got my first pair of wrist wraps not long after starting Weightlifting and I managed to pick correctly the first time. I’ve had them since and are still being used 7+ years later when I need them.

Before I get into how to use Weightlifting wrist wraps, first we must cover what wrist wraps are with the different material and styles available to you.

What Are Wrist Wraps?

What Are Wrist Wraps

Wrist wraps are pieces of material that wrap around your wrist to improve add stability and support. They come in various materials mainly being a stretchy cotton and leather. On top of this, there are different styles of wrist wraps.

Some are better suited for Weightlifting as they are lighter and more flexible while others a better for Powerlifting and Strongman due to be thicker, longer, and more rigid.

Leather wrist wraps, while popular in some countries, are very stiff and can be uncomfortable to use for the Weightlifting movements.

I would highly recommend plain cotton and elastic wrist wraps that are either 12” or 18”. Personally, I like the 18” wrist wraps as they provide enough length to wrap around the wrist a few times while being thin enough to not be too bulky.

You do not need very long wrist wraps for Weightlifting but they need to be flexible as the sport of Weightlifting is much different from other strength sports.

The wrists extend backward during the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. The wrist stays straight in other strength sports movements such as the bench press. This means Weightlifters need a wrist wrap that allows comfortable wrist movement.

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How To Use Weightlifting Wrist Wraps

Most wrist wraps will come with a thumb loop which you can use to your advantage. If you don’t have a thumb loop, you will have to hold the edge between your fingers and the bottom of your palm.

Step 1

Place the thumb loop around your thumb.

Step 2

Start wrapping your wrist going over the top of the wrist first. I prefer doing it this way as if you start from below the wrist, the thumb loop stays by the hand which can be annoying when trying to grip the bar if it comes loose.

Each wrap will be able to go over your wrist so one will fit on your left wrist and the other on your right wrist.

Step 3

Pull the wraps as tight as you feel comfortable as you layer your wrist. It shouldn’t be so tight that your hand starts to go purple and you can’t feel your hand. It should be just tight enough where it feels supportive.

You will know if it’s too loose as it will feel like it is doing nothing. Further, you must wrap the layers directly on top of each other. It should not be like a boxing wrist wrap where it goes in a spiral to cover more of the forearm.

Step 4

Seal the Velcro strap and remove the thumb loop. I like to tuck the thumb loop under the wrist wrap so it stays out of the way when lifting.

Are Wrist Wraps Good For Weightlifting?

Wrist wraps are great for Weightlifting. Snatches, cleans, jerks, and front squats all require extension of the wrist under load. When done often, this can start to lead to wrist discomfort and pain when performing the lifts.

By using wrist wraps, you increase the girth of your wrists making them more stable under load. Further, the wrap itself supports the wrist when it extends backward taking some of the load off of the wrist.

When Should You Wear Wrist Wraps?

Firstly, you don’t need to wear wrist wraps for Weightlifting. You can perform every exercise without them and be completely healthy if you have the requisite mobility.

If you struggle with upper body and wrist mobility, then you may run into wrist pain throughout your lifting career. In this case, while working on your mobility, wrist wraps can help relieve the pain while lifting.

Ideally, wrist wraps should only be worn when you need them. Meaning your warm-up sets should be performed without wrist wraps.

Lifting without wrist wraps can help strengthen the wrists in the positions your wrists need to be strong. A consistent use of wrist wraps from warming up with the barbell to your working sets may weaken your wrists over time as you reduce the need for strength.

Is It Safe To Use Wrist Wraps When Weightlifting?

It is completely safe to use Weightlifting wrist wraps when you are lifting. Just be aware that if your wrist wraps are really tight and you leave them on for an extended period, you may run into problems with your hands.

Further, relying on Weightlifting wrist wraps for all of your lifting can potentially weaken the wrist when performing exercises without them.

James de Lacey

About the author

James is a professional strength & conditioning coach having worked around the world with professional and elite rugby and rugby league teams. He is also an accomplished Weightlifter having competed at the National level. Further, he is a published academic researcher in the field of Sport & Exercise Science.

Mona de Lacey


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