Train Harder With Wrist Wraps (Why, When, How to Use)
Want to do more reps, lift heavier weight and keep the joints healthy? Wrist strength is the secret sauce.
If pull-up is your favorite workout, you probably experienced this before: your back and arms had the strength to pull it off, but your grip at the bar is failing fast.
Many do not realized they could train harder if their wrist is more stable. Weak wrists become an obstacle to bigger gain now.
Wrist wraps effectively compress and support the wrist joints, and that pumps our grip strength as immediate effect.
We would not say wrist wraps are a must for everyone, they are more of a supplement rather than a necessity. There are many do's and don'ts regarding wrist wraps. Using them right, you can progress much quicker and safer.
What is Wrist Wraps
Wrist wraps, also known as wrist straps, wrist bands or even hand straps. There are so many different forms and design in the market, we will discuss the most classic and simplest form, Grav Wrist Wraps.
It is one of the best workout straps because it has no fancy component like thumb loop or velcro fastener. Thus it offers execellent support and suits all wrist sizes.
Grav Wrist Wraps are two pieces of cotton straps tied with a string at one end. The open-ended design adapts to all wrist sizes with maximum flexibility. Just wrap it around and tie it up with the string. You can grab and twist the whole wrist to adjust the tightness, in the middle of training.
Wrist wraps are made to share the weight of body when doing whatever exercise that involves our hands.
What is the Point of Wrist Wraps
We view wrist wraps as a tool to "borrow strength". It's very common to have wrist pain at certain point when you do push-up and pull-up. This is a sign that your wrist is not strong enough for the exercise or movement yet.
Strengthen your wrists
Our wrist is made up of eight small bones (carpal bones) and wrist wraps compress around the area. It stabilizes the wrists and prevents hyperextension, which is the usual cause of wrist injury.
The compression also increases blood circulation to the wrist. This translate to a stronger connection between the forearm and the hand. Thus boosting your grip strength that is required in difficult skill, such as muscle-up.
Train beyond the limit
With wrist wraps, you gain ability beyond your normal capability. So you can focus on the skill or workout set without being restrained by the weakest point in your arm, the wrist.
Let's stay you are trying to hit your triceps hard with weighted dips, but your wrists exhausted first before your triceps does. By using wrist wraps, you can continue the weighted dip and do more reps than usual.
This almost sounds like cheating. With the extra wrist support, you can focus on the muscle group or skills. And let the body adapt to progression over time.
Prevent wrist injury
Wrist pain is one of the biggest killers for our gain. Without a solid wrist, you can’t even perform a good dead-lift. Wrist wraps are not only used for a performance boost, they are also used to prevent injury.
Like any other muscles in our body, the wrist is prone to injury when we perform exercises that our body is not used to. This is especially true in calisthenics where we use our body as leverage of weight. Two things happen when you wear a wrist wrap:
- Wrist mobility is limited at an extreme angle: This prevents the wrist to overextend in unnatural position. (i.e. fingers pointing forward in standard push-up)
- You always feel the wrist due to constant compression: This helps the mind-muscle connection. So you can detect the slight instability in the wrist and end the motion earlier.
Stretch and warm up your wrists before heavy workout. Use a pair of wrist wraps as a fail-safe mechanism.
100% Cotton and Comfort
Grav Wrist Wraps are made with 100% cotton and there are a few advantages for full fabric wraps:
- Fabric wraps around all shapes and sizes of wrist with snug fit.
- Easy on skin, non-itchy and zero abrasion.
- Absorb sweats from your arms, so your hand stays dry all the time. No more slippery grip.
- They don't limit wrists flexibility while providing rigid support.
Do Wrist Wraps Weaken Your Wrists
The short answer is no, but overuse wrist wraps will hinder your growth.
The best use case of wrist wraps is when you are practicing at the edge of your capability. That is the moment our muscle and joints exposing to the highest risk of injury. Here are some scenarios where wrist wraps are of utmost useful:
- Say if you were about to progress from pike handstand against wall, to a full handstand.
- Attempt your muscle-up for the first time.
- Progress from standard push-up to pseudo planche push-up.
- When you start to practice weighted bodyweight workouts
Wearing a pair of wrist wraps could help a ton whenever you are trying to breakthrough fitness limit.
However, using them all the time is not a good idea. Because you are constantly limiting the resistance exposing on the wrists so they can hardly grow more strength. Your wrists would not be weakened, but rather staying on the same level, while the other part of your body is growing stronger. You don't want that.
Nothing can replace immobile and weak wrist. You should train bare hand most of the time in your normal routine. Stretch a lot before and after each workout. Do wrist strengthening workout, such as the rice bucket workout.
Use Wrist Wraps to Train Wrists
With the correct technique, you can use wrist wrap to grow your wrist strength. The key is progressive overload. You can start training a new move with wrist wraps. Then add sets without wrist wraps over time. That said, you are progressively reducing the wrist support while adding more pressure to the wrist. The goal is to practice the particular workout without wrist wraps at all.
For example, say you are practicing handstand for the first time:
1. Do it with wrist wraps until you can hold for 60 seconds.
2. Next session, handstand with wrist wraps for 50 seconds. Then remove the wrap, do it bare hand for 10 seconds.
3. When you can do it rather comfortably, reduce the time with wrist wrap to 40 seconds and increase the bare hand handstand to 20 seconds.
Rinse and repeat, eventually, you will be able to do 60 seconds of handstand without wrist wrap at all.
How to Wear Wrist Wraps
- Use pinky finger to pin down one end of the wrap and start wrapping. This servse as the anchor point so the wrap stays at the same place as you wrap. This is also why thumb loop is unnecessary.
- After a few round of wrapping, the initial end of wrap should stay in the same position and exposed.
- (Optional) To hide the initial wrap head, you can fold it down and keep wrapping. So the head is now kept inside.
- Loop the string under each other. Pull in the same direction to finish up.
- Adjust tightness by grabbing the whole wrap. Follow wrapping direction to tighten, and opposite direction to loosen.
- Repeat the same for the other hand and you are ready to crush the workout hard!
What Exercise is Wrist Wrap Good For
Almost anything that involves your hands can benefit from a pair of wrist wraps. Weight lifters in the gym use all kind of free weights and machine, they are going to feel the extra output instantly. The extra wrist stability and security are especially crucial in heavy sets.
Wrist wraps are famous in calisthenics community. For those who practice bodyweight workout, manipulating body movement with different hand position is the only way to go. Solid and healthy wrists are the key to progression and growth down the road.
Sports that emphasize wrist mobility like tennis and badminton can take advantage of wrist wrap's extra support as well. The cool thing is, cotton wraps help to absorb sweats coming from arms to ensure your hand stay dry all the time.
That said, whether you are a strongman contestant, gym rat, bodyweight workout lover, you should spare a pair of wrist wraps in the bag.
When To Use Wrist Wraps
Remember, wrist wraps is not a replacement for weak wrists. Use them only if you need more support when doing something intense or when you are fatigued.
- Heavy workout: Everything you can not do more than 3 or 4 reputation maximum (RM), is considered heavy. Wrap the wrists for extra support.
- Weakness in certain movement: Your target muscle still had the strength to keep going but your wrist cannot hold it anymore? Use wrist wraps for boosting strength.
- Trying new movement: Your wrists might not adapt to the movement yet and prone to hyperextension.
- Near the end of workout: This is when your energy is lowest and the peak moment to hurt yourself if you still want to keep the same intensity going.
When Not To Use Wrist Wraps
We've seen some guys always have their wrist straps on whatever they are training. That's wrong and wil disturb your overall strength growth in long term.
- Absolute beginner: If you are just starting to work out. It's best to expose your body to the resistance without any form of assistance at all. Beginner neural system will adapt the fastest compared to a seasoned trainer.
- Sharp pain in wrist: Wrist pain is not a cure to an injured wrist. You should probably visit a physiotherapist if you experiencing sharp pain in a certain motion.
- Light or usual workout: You don't need the extra strength when you are on the usual routine, especially during a warm-up. No one is warming up with assistance accessories.
- Doing wrist strengthing exercises: You want to grow your wrist strength, that's great. If the exercise is too hard, step down the progression and go easy. Don't throw up a pair of wraps straight away, else the exercise is pointless.