The lack of grip strength is a leading cause of weightlifting plateaus. If your hold of the weight gives up before the target muscles, you’re missing out on serious gains. Well, straps provide a way out.
They can increase force production by lowering body grip strength demands during pull exercises. However, the real question is which type should you choose: figure 8 straps vs normal straps?
The difference between closed loop and double-loop lifting straps comes down to grip security, eject possibility, workout variety, and degree of comfort they inject into your maximal lifts. Thus, the choice depends on your training goals and preferences.
What are Figure 8 Straps?
As the name suggests – figure eight straps look like a symbol ‘8’ or infinity when laid flat. Each consists of double loops, gripping your wrist twice but the bar only once. It’s counted among the most durable and dependable lifting accessories.
Experienced gym veterans rely on these straps to move a tremendous amount of weight. You can hit more reps and heavier loads if grip strength is the limiting factor. However, the design makes releasing the bar much harder, eventually pushing you through full eccentric motion, i.e., lowering the bar to the ground in deadlifts and rack pulls.
Pros and Cons of Figure 8 Lifting Straps
- Excellent grip security and stability
- Usually built with long-lasting materials
- Quick and easy to put on
- Help reach true muscle fatigue and failure
- Doesn’t allow dropping the bar
- Only suitable for a handful of exercises
What are Figure 8 Straps Best For?
Double-loop lifting straps promise an unfaltering grip. They’re essential gear for powerlifting and strongman geeks, who move heavy poundage on a daily basis. As for suitable exercises, figure 8 straps go with deadlifts where you need all the help you can get off the floor. Other appropriate movements include shrugs, rows, and rack pulls. Put them aside when performing Olympic lifts.
What are Normal Straps?
In this article when we talk about Normal straps we are referring to ones known as lasso straps – as they are probably most common in regular gym use. These can be pretty long at 20 inches or more. Instead of two, you have a single loop to slide on your hand.
A lot of material will be left dangling in the air, which makes them much more universal in terms of wrist and hand size and you can wrap them around the bar multiple times. Doing so creates a lockdown between your hands and the bar.
You can try them for any weight room movement. Unlike figure 8s, a conventional strap unravels itself as you open the fist. This feature makes it a bit less secure but a lot more versatile.
Pros and Cons of Normal Lifting Straps
- Goes with a range of exercises and equipment
- Doesn’t restrict the range of motion
- Flexible enough to release or jerk the bar
- More universal in terms of size of hand/wrist and equipment
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Prone to come loose mid-lift
- Not as secure and durable as Figure 8
What are Normal Straps Best For?
Anyone can use normal lifting straps (especially lassos with longer tails) for any exercise under the sun. They reinforce your grip on the bar, although not to the figure 8’s extent. As long as you’re not attempting 1RM lifts or drop sets, normal straps will do fine. Weightlifters prefer them for jerks and snatches to disengage from the bar quickly.
Figure 8 Straps vs Normal Straps: Differences
We see regular straps are a jack-of-all-trades, and that’s why most folks jump to the next level with them. However, fixed double loops prioritize grip action, motivating you to max out deadlifts through a full range of motion.
A firm grip can make or break your resistance training. Any sort of wrist strap will provide additional support and stability. However, some critical differences make them suited for different scenarios. Let’s pitch standard lifting straps vs figure 8s head-to-head for an informed decision.
Figure 8 Lifting Straps vs Normal Straps: Summary
|Figure 8 Straps
|Shape and Build
|Long strap with loop at the end, adjustable
|Number 8, fixed
You can’t mistake normal and figure eight specimens with each other. They’re visibly distinctive. Normal straps are a single strip of material with a small hole at the top. You must feed the other end into this hole to make a loop. Alternatively, figure 8s require no adjustment and setup. It makes their application faster and simpler.
2. Grip Security
Does figure 8 work? Its fixed and double-loop built make a virtually inseparable lockdown between your hands and the weight. Even if your wrist strength surrenders prematurely, the bar will keep strapped. As good as regular straps are – especially when you’ve tied several overlapping wraps – they can’t keep up with figure 8’s grip security and stability.
3. Bar Drop
Regarding overhead movements, you should be able to dump the bar instantly. Imagine losing control of a snatch during the catch. Although there are special assistance exercises to avoid this scene, the safest thing to do at the moment is to hop out of the way. Normal straps allow you to quickly release the bar. But figure 8s don’t carry a quick-release option. Therefore, they are used for limited exercises.
Lasso straps seek a balance between durability and comfort. They utilize lighter and softer fabrics like cotton, nylon, and elastane. You might see leather tops in some lasso models. Nonetheless, double loops will be comparatively heavy and pricey. They have an edge at weight distribution and bar connection, as figure 8s don’t sneak under your palms.
The way they are designed will also have an impact on how well they will fit different hands/wrists. Figure 8s are fixed means there isn’t much room to adjust so if you choose wrong they might be a bit tight, which is opposite in Lasso ones especially when they are long enough.
Normal straps accommodate an unbeatable diversity of workouts and equipment. You can tether them for power and Oly lifts. Recreational and cross-training moves will also remain ideal. Figure 8s are perfect for heavy deads and shrugs only. Due to the loops’ unalterable length and width, they can’t be easily tied to dumbbells, kettlebells, or pull-up bars.
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How to Use Figure 8 Straps?
Figure eight straps are relatively easy to use. You can rapidly wear them between reps. To undo them, you must first put the bar down. Therefore, reserve these bad boys for brutal types of deadlifting sessions: standard, sumo, Romanian, etc.
See these steps to learn how to use figure 8 lifting straps and how they differ from the regular setup.
Step 1: Slip One Hand Through a Loop
You’ll see looped twins. Simply slide the upper one to the base of your hand, entirely down to the wrist or across the thumb. Normal straps ask you to make a loop.
Step 2: Secure the Grip on the Bar
Hold the shaft of the barbell. Spiral the remaining end of the strap under it before inserting your wrist again.
Step 3: Get Ready to Smash the Lift
You’ll rotate the grips with normal straps to lock in properly – akin to revving a motorbike. Figure 8s are good at clutching. You can twist them to remove the gap.
Top Recommendations for Figure 8 Straps vs Normal Straps:
Figure 8s for athletes by the athletes! WBCM has fused industrial cotton and elastane for this ultra-durable lifting strap with comfy neoprene undersides. You’ll have three sizes and six different colors to choose from. Why not make a style statement before personal bests?
WBCM Lassos are the perfect choice to notch up your weightlifting game. These are 100% cotton with double-stitched neoprene plus leather patches. It translates to versatility without sacrificing reliability. Rated for 700+ lbs, the 22” strap is a lot of material to wrap around any type of bar.
Can you Deadlift More With Figure 8 Straps?
If your grip strength is limiting the weight or reps you can pull, throw a pair of figure 8 straps And you’ll see improvement. That will let you increase reps or the load unless your prime movers cry mercy first. In the case of deadlifts – the hamstrings, glutes, and back muscles are the prime movers.
Are Figure 8 Straps Better for Deadlifting?
It depends, many athletes prefer figure 8s than normal straps for deadlifting. They can provide the most secure grip, which you need to pick the bar off the floor. Additionally, a deadlift doesn’t include jerks or overheads. However some folks found them too uncomfortable and are sticking with regular ones.
Can you Use Figure 8 Straps in Powerlifting?
Figure 8s may be better for powerlifting and strongman competitions. You’ll mostly use them for deadlifts, as straps are not needed during pressing exercises.
Why do Strongmen Use Figure 8 Straps?
A strongman contest is the exhibition of raw strength. And these are the only ones to permit the use of lifting straps officially. Therefore, figure 8s are a must-have for strongmen to pull the bulkiest loads on earth.
What is the Difference Between Olympic Straps and Lifting Straps?
Lifting strap is the overarching term for any wrist strap that enhances grip strength while lifting. On the other hand, Olympic straps are specific closed-loops for Oly lifts: clean-and-jerks and snatches.
The real answer to figure 8 straps vs normal straps lies in your training goals and preferences. One option is versatile, whereas another offers explosive grip assistance for a few compound moves. You should try them on both and select one that feels nicer without compromising safety and progress.
The last point to remember is that straps are there to help during heavy lifts. Don’t make them a crutch. Also, work on your natural grip strength and endurance concurrently.
Do you use lifting straps? Which style is your favorite and why? We’d like to hear your take on this comparison.
- Ethan A. Elkins, University of Central Florida, “Effect of Lifting Straps on Peak Force During an Isometric Mid-thigh Pull,” HONORS UNDERGRADUATE THESES
- Nicholas A Burd et al., “Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men,” J Physiol. 2012 Jan 15; 590(Pt 2): 351–362, Nov 2021
- Pistilli, Emidio E, “Snatch Grip Overhead Shrug,” Strength and Conditioning Journal 44(3):p 122-127, June 2022
- Clifton J. Holmes, “Understanding the deadlift and its variations,” ACSMʼs Health & Fitness Journal 24(3), Jan 2019
Jacek Szymanowski is a highly respected sports nutrition expert with a Master’s degree in Biotechnology. His innovative approach combines lifting and fighting strategies to help athletes optimize their performance. As a Strength and Conditioning Movement Specialist, he is dedicated to reducing injuries in athletes. His specialist training in Nutrition for Athletes equips him to provide expert advice on dietary habits and nutrition for peak performance.
Oleksiy Torokhtiy is an Olympic gold medalist in weightlifting and a prominent coach. Born in Ukraine, he has degrees in Physical Education and Engineering and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Sports Science. He’s known for his online training programs and masterclasses that have helped many athletes around the world. He is also a successful social media influencer and the founder of the international sportswear brand “Warm Body Cold Mind”.