T Nation

Chalk or Straps for Deadlifts?



Noticing alot of people at my gym using straps and telling me its much easier to move heavier weight when using them, I myself just use chalk for heavy lifts for some strange reason i feel like if i use straps that the lift isnt legit....any thoughts? thanks


If you can't hold it don't lift it, just my opinion though!


so ur saying straps are a waste of time or?


whats the goal? If you are a bodybuilder, using straps will allow you to move more weight/ achieve higher reps with the back and legs than you are capable of holding with no straps.

My thought would be if you already look at them as cheating a lift, then you already know your answer. Be content in knowing that most of those guys have no clue what they are doing, and probably couldnt inch a heavy weight up without the straps.

And it isnt legit, which is why they arent allowed even in a multiply meet, you gotta lift the weight.


It is much easier to pull the weight when you can strap in and not worry about grip. A lot of commercial gyms won't allow chalk, but I've never seen one that has a problem with straps. Commercial gyms also generally have shitty bars with shitty knurling, so without straps there's a good chance that you'll be limited more by grip than anything else.

I think in progressing specifically for deadlift, unless you're getting ready for a meet it would be counter productive to not use straps.

I didn't have to use straps for deadlifts until I moved and had to start going to a commercial gym and their bars were/are crap. I'm used to oakie bars that are smaller around in diameters and has knurling that digs into your hand and can draw blood, so you might be different.


@silverdan, just a recreational basketball player now and enjoy lifting after tearing my ACL a couple of years back, my deadlift max is 220kg with strict form and no hitching, although i can see guys in the gym using straps and hitching badly, so it made me think if the straps are actually helping them with the initial phase just so they can struggle through the rest.....might give straps a try but definitely feels like cheating to me


yeah i definitely prefer a bar with more knurling, definitely helps grip, i usually rub all the way around with chalk aswell as my hands


If you don't need to use straps then I definitely wouldn't. It doesn't sound like your grip is a limiting factor which is one reason you would use straps. I lift in a commercial gym and they let me use chalk and the bar is good enough for me.

I most definitely would NOT look to other people in your gym as a role model if you see them hitching, using poor form, etc.



Chalk is better because it works your forearms. Using straps is like using a belt when you dont need one. It makes your back weak. I dont own straps, but I do have shrug hooks for after my grip is shot.


if you dont have grip problems there's no reason to use straps really... i can definitely pull more without straps due to being able to setup better


I've found that straps limit how much I can pull. The extra time spent in the set up to get the straps placed on the bar takes away from my lift.

That being said, I still use straps for snatch grip deads since the position compromises my grip strength.


I used straps before on my last sets and only for Deadlifts and Rows.

My experience tells me that yes, straps do help and if you're a recreational athlete, it wouldn't hurt. Its not cheating if you're not competing in a meet.

So, take whatever advantage you can get. I only use chalk now and it works great, but my goals are different than it was before. So, look at your goals and figure out if its gonna hurt or help. If it doesn't hurt, why not give it a try?


This one. I tried straps deadlifting once and it made it harder. In addition, it added so much diameter to the bar it felt like I couldn't grip properly.

I like them for snatch grips. I love them for rowing.


cheers guys yeah ill give it a try


I use straps on all my deadlift training, and just recently pulled 585 without straps at a bodyweight of 191.

It's silly to let your grip limit how much you pull in your training. I use straps so that I can focus on my form and technique while I blast the weight rather than worrying about losing my grip. It also allows me to pull double overhand, which reduces my risk of trying to "curl" the weight and tearing my bicep. I use CoC grippers to train my grip, and can close the 2.5 with either hand.

Train your grip to get a stronger grip, and train your deadlift to get a stronger deadlift. If you can pull the same with straps as without, then more power to you, but if you can pull more with straps, pull more.


I respectively disagree. There's the factor of hand size. I have large hands and grip is never an issue. I use straps for shrugs and suitcase deadlifts at 180+ lbs. Shrugs at 315+. I go strapless for platforms unless they're high rep stiff legs.




I used straps for pretty much everything for the 6ish years I dicked around in the weight room, as opposed to the last year where I had a clue. I very much regret it. I think I could pull a little over 500, but I can't hang on to much more than 400. Grip strength was even the limiting factor for pull-ups.

I'm not necessarily saying to never use straps, but certainly do not use them for everything and ignore your grip strength/forearm development.

Personally for me, it seems like good training economy to just not use em, though. For now, anyways.




yes. Your brain has a self limiting mechaism that will not allow you to lift something from the ground it knows you cannot lift. Using straps kills this feedback and allows us to lift weights/reps that are a bit heavy for us.