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Straps for Bent-Over Rows

I’m a beginner. I have a hard time feeling my lat muscles working whenever I trained back, so I did some research and I concluded that I was probably due to the fact that I was pulling through my hands, and not my elbows, so to speak.

I was wondering whether it’d be a good idea to purchase some straps to train my lats? Whenever I try to do bent-over rows, I have a hard time getting a good grip of the bar. I don’t want to become dependent on the straps, though, so I thought I’d do deadlifts without.

What do you guys think?

Just use them on the working sets once your grip is starting to fail. Lats are hard to get a good MMC so using straps might not be the solution. Focus on lighter loads till you can feel the lats working then build it up. Doubt you will feel the lats working when deadlifting.

[quote]labean wrote:
I’m a beginner. I have a hard time feeling my lat muscles working whenever I trained back, so I did some research and I concluded that I was probably due to the fact that I was pulling through my hands, and not my elbows, so to speak.

I was wondering whether it’d be a good idea to purchase some straps to train my lats? Whenever I try to do bent-over rows, I have a hard time getting a good grip of the bar. I don’t want to become dependent on the straps, though, so I thought I’d do deadlifts without.

What do you guys think?[/quote]

I can’t train my back without straps. If you are bodybuilding, there is no reason you should care about your grip strength. Your forearms’ size sure, but not necessarily for your grip.

Get these

http://www.flexcart.com/members/elitefts/default.asp?m=PD&cid=482&pid=4616

They are great for the thumb less grip and I feel my back way more when I use them.

[quote]labean wrote:
I’m a beginner. I have a hard time feeling my lat muscles working whenever I trained back, so I did some research and I concluded that I was probably due to the fact that I was pulling through my hands, and not my elbows, so to speak.[/quote]
Have you tried starting your back workout with a few sets of something like straight-arm pulldowns to increase activation and slightly pre-exhaust the lats?

What exactly does this mean? Like, you can’t do a set of 10 with 135 pounds without your grip failing? There’s certainly something to be said for building basic grip strength before incorporating straps.

You’ll be as dependent as you let yourself be. As was suggested, I would (and I generally do) use them only on the heaviest sets/as soon as you’re forced to end a set due to grip fatigue rather than muscular fatigue in the back.

The rest of your training can also be a factor. When I trained back and biceps on the same day, I’d use the straps a little more than usual, especially on the last two back exercises to give my biceps/forearms/grip a bit more “rest” before hitting bis directly.

What does your routine look like? Do deadlifts and pulldowns give you grip issues?

Personally, I think you should be concerned with grip strength. Using straps will make you dependent, and you’re better off just getting used to holding heavy things. Your only contact to the weights in most exercises you do, is going to be your grip, which in turn also means a stronger grip is going to give you a better foundation. Other muscles and joints will compensate for your lack of grip strength; you don’t want to put excess strain on other parts, because you lacked training in your grip. Besides, who doesn’t like big forearms?

Don’t just look strong, be strong; screw taking the easy route.

IMO you should have a fairly specific goal in mind when you do any one exercise continually, as I assume you do with BB rows if you are asking the question. If the primary goal is to build your back, go ahead and use straps. Your grip training will suffer because of it, though. You have to determine where the trade-off is for yourself.

I will say either way you should pick some straps up though. They are cheap enough.

Hey guys. Thanks for all the great replies.

I think I might try to do some straight-arm pullovers (with dumbbells, my gym doesn’t have the machine) to build up the MMC, because that’s obviously what I’m lacking. I also re-evaluated my workout routine, and I do deadlifts on the same day before doing bent-over rows; that might be why my grip fails.

Whenever I do deadlifts, I can usually only do a couple of reps with the normal hand setup, and then I have to have a mixed grip (one hand over, other one under bar).

What can I do to increase my grip strength and endurance?

Edit: I tried underhand close-grip lat pulldowns and using my hands only as “hooks”, and boy, did I feel it in my lats like never before! I’d suggest that those who haven’t tried this exercise already does.

Kirk karwoski rows is one option for grip, heavy sets of shrugs (I think I’ve heard people say Jim Wendler recommends one set of 40 reps for them for grip/size), one armed deadlifts (both front, behind, and done as a suitcase deadlift) farmer walks, and many other things.

Chris’ advice is really good. I’d recommend just hitting grip hard on a few exercises. I had fun with kroc rows. I just said that I’d be able to row the heaviest weights in my gym for a bunch of sloppy reps. Once I hit that I said I’d hit it for a bunch of strict reps. Once I finish this I’ll probably add bands to the exercise. DSSG’s examples sound good too. I personally focus on progressing with my grip on a few exercises, and then don’t sweat it if I break out chalk, straps, the hook grip, or the over/under grip on lifts.

@labean,
I agree w/ taking lighter loads. As you progress w/ lat strength your grip will progress along w/ it. And while a bodybuilder might not “care” about grip strength there is no reason to avoid it. The only time I’ve ever used straps was when I was working up to a 600lb. raw deadlift. Unless you’re trying to set a PR on a lift, do not use straps.

So what is the “solution”? My current training split is: 1. Upper Body Push (chest/ shoulder) 2. Lower Body Push (quad) 3. Upper Body Pull (back/bi) 4. Lower Body Pull (DL, hamstring). This split allows me to absolutely declare war on a given bodypart w/o risking overtraining. For my back workout I do sets of pullups w/ a weighted vest until I can’t possibly do another rep. Then I take off the vest and do sets of pullups until I can’t even do 1 rep w/ my bodyweight anymore. Afterwards I will do massive drop sets of lat pulldowns and cable rows until I feel like my arms are going to rip off.

Barbell rows are an ego-stroker because you can do a lot of weight. But as the weight goes up your form gets more limited and you risk injury. Stick to the good old fashioned “do pullups until you die” workout and your lats will blow right up.

Heavy farmer’s walks with the heaviest dumbbells you can hold are great for your grip as well as the rest of your body. Heavy lunges with dumbbells will have the same effect.

If you deadlift, I love to hold my heavy lifts at the top for a few seconds, and as long as I can for my last set. Holding 400 pounds(or wherever your dead currently is) in your hands will really help develop more grip strength.

[quote]ImaMonsta wrote:
Personally, I think you should be concerned with grip strength. Using straps will make you dependent, and you’re better off just getting used to holding heavy things. Your only contact to the weights in most exercises you do, is going to be your grip, which in turn also means a stronger grip is going to give you a better foundation. Other muscles and joints will compensate for your lack of grip strength; you don’t want to put excess strain on other parts, because you lacked training in your grip. Besides, who doesn’t like big forearms?

Don’t just look strong, be strong; screw taking the easy route.[/quote]

I never quite understood this mentality. Not using straps isn’t an appropriate form of grip training at all, you should be actively training your grip with grip exercises. Captains of Crush Grippers, timed holds, plate pinches, what have you.

I use straps for all of my pulling movements in training, and train my grip outside of the gym. I can close a CoC #2 for reps with either hand, and the 2.5 for a rep or two as well. I’ve also never dropped a deadlift.

Using straps isn’t going to make your grip any weaker than using a belt will make your core weaker. As long as you are training these things, they get stronger. If your only grip training is holding onto a barbell/machine when you lift, your grip isn’t that strong.

I’m confused what there isn’t to get? Anything you use your grip for(pulling motions in this case) is going to strengthen it regardless; I don’t really see how there is any refuting that. If you’re going to put in the work, why not strengthen more than just your “target area”? Your body is a single unit, why train it to not know how to do it on its on? That’s how you create imbalances.

If I can’t hold it, I shouldn’t be lifting it. I can lift plenty of weight(personal opinion) without any straps, and I don’t do any grip specific training; I just pony up and hold the damn weights. If I can do heavy deads without straps, or pull ups with over 60 pounds strapped to me(at a body weight of 200), why should I use straps? I’m not failing my lifts due to grip strength… My grip has gotten significantly stronger because I don’t use straps.

Maybe I’m naive for thinking that straps are a crutch. I see too many guys use straps on every single lift, and never allow themselves to actually hold anything. Who gives a shit if you can lift X amount of weight with straps, if when it really came down to it, you couldn’t because you HAVE to have your straps?

Who becomes the superior lifter? The one who can do all of their strongest lifts without straps or with? I don’t know about you, but I think the guy who can actually hold the weight himself is stronger(call me crazy).

I’m in no way saying you aren’t strong, nor am I saying you don’t posses great grip strength. You may have accomplished all of this with straps - congrats. But to someone starting out or struggling with grip, I think forcing your body to adapt to the stress, rather than make it easier, is the more appropriate route of building a solid foundation.

[quote]ImaMonsta wrote:
I’m confused what there isn’t to get? Anything you use your grip for(pulling motions in this case) is going to strengthen it regardless; I don’t really see how there is any refuting that. If you’re going to put in the work, why not strengthen more than just your “target area”? Your body is a single unit, why train it to not know how to do it on its on? That’s how you create imbalances.

If I can’t hold it, I shouldn’t be lifting it. I can lift plenty of weight(personal opinion) without any straps, and I don’t do any grip specific training; I just pony up and hold the damn weights. If I can do heavy deads without straps, or pull ups with over 60 pounds strapped to me(at a body weight of 200), why should I use straps? I’m not failing my lifts due to grip strength… My grip has gotten significantly stronger because I don’t use straps.

Maybe I’m naive for thinking that straps are a crutch. I see too many guys use straps on every single lift, and never allow themselves to actually hold anything. Who gives a shit if you can lift X amount of weight with straps, if when it really came down to it, you couldn’t because you HAVE to have your straps?

Who becomes the superior lifter? The one who can do all of their strongest lifts without straps or with? I don’t know about you, but I think the guy who can actually hold the weight himself is stronger(call me crazy).

I’m in no way saying you aren’t strong, nor am I saying you don’t posses great grip strength. You may have accomplished all of this with straps - congrats. But to someone starting out or struggling with grip, I think forcing your body to adapt to the stress, rather than make it easier, is the more appropriate route of building a solid foundation.
[/quote]

Again, why not adapt to stress by actually training grip?

You are viewing training as a competition. It is not. This whole “who cares if you can lift X” crap is silly, because we are talking about gym lifts, not competition lifts. I don’t give a shit about what you do in the gym, it’s what you do on the platform that matters. In the gym, I use straps, on the platform, I don’t, and I have never dropped a dead on the platform.

As for why you should use straps even if you can hold the weight, they are great for allowing you to pull double-overhand in training, remove hands from the equation in rows to focus on pulling with the elbows, and allow you to focus more energy on grip training.

I don’t care about how I train, I care about the results. Straps do not prevent you from getting bigger or stronger, and in many ways will actually help you do so. Not using them because it makes you a “worse lifter” is retarded.

the whole feeling the muscle working is just a bunch of bull. lift heavy weight with reasonable form to avoid injury and focus on progressive overload, one more rep always!! never do lower than 5 reps and stray from going higher than 12. straps help you do that so go right ahead. you don’t train bent over row for the grip anyway, dead lifts work that fine you can also do some timed holds if you want a strong grip.

of course the rep ranges and your form is something you need to work out yourself by learning from experience just trying to nudge you in the right general direction

[quote]buildsomemuscle wrote:
the whole feeling the muscle working is just a bunch of bull.[/quote]

Absolutely false. Stop giving advice.

I guess I’m looking at it wrong. I personally enjoy the extra effort to hold onto the weight, but maybe my form suffers as a result?

I have yet to compete, nor am I pushing impressive numbers; maybe once I’ve reached a point where my lifts are too heavy for my form to stay solid, or I feel my workout is being negatively affected by my lack of grip strength, I’ll switch off to using straps? I suppose time will tell.

Maybe saying it makes a worse lifter was a bit harsh, more so I feel depending on them does. I guess I’m confusing them just for when they’re needed, and always using them.

i use straps for bent over rows. i like to focus this exercise on my back and dont like to worry about my grip going or pulling with my arms. but i dont use straps for deadlifts unless im doing them on a leg day. i also do heavy complexes strapless so using them on my rows are not going to be much of an issue. your doing rows to build your back so wear straps. just dont use them on every exercise, and if you use them on deadlifts just remember the weight you lift with straps isnt your max lift.

Kayak Rows