It’s amazing how a 12 inch long piece of fabric can cause such a debate but it takes place in weight rooms around the world. It almost feels awkward when you pull it out of your bag because you can’t help but wonder what the other lifters will think. That piece of fabric I’m talking about? Lifting straps.
With some lifters and experts there is no gray area. Straps are a weak accessory to have. Using them takes your grip out of the equation and it’s cheating. If you have a weak grip then you should work on your grip and leave the straps at home or even better, get rid of them. Powerlifters can’t use them. Olympic lifters can’t use them so you shouldn’t use them.
On the other side of the conversation, there are other experts and trainers who feel that just because your grip might not be the strongest, the other muscles you’re working shouldn’t suffer the consequences. If you can do one arm rows with a 70 pound dumbbell without straps but can use a 100 pound dumbbell with them, then you should break them out so you can train your back with the maximum volume and best effort possible.
Is there a compromise on this issue? I think there is. If you compete in a sport that grip is important like powerlifting then you should avoid the straps on the lifts that you specialize in. If you’re a recreational lifter that wants to excel in the big lifts, then you should do the same. If you’re a bodybuilder or someone who isn’t focused on those kind of lifts for competition purpose, then go ahead and use them so you can train as heavy as you’re safely able to and thus, achieve maximal development. In the meantime, find exercises that will help improve your grip and add them to your plan because you should work on making weaknesses your strengths. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, you should focus on your goals and doing what you need to do to achieve them. Others might be entitled to their opinions but don’t let them stop you from achieving the success you want.