As a weightlifter, there are few things more satisfying than adding another weight plate to a lift. That sense of pride and accomplishment can carry you through your workout and inspire you in other areas of life.
However, it's easy to push too hard and end up injuring your sensitive, load-bearing joints.
What if there was a way to push your body to its limits while reducing your chances of injury? That's exactly what wrist wraps and knee wraps were designed for.
If you're trying to wring every last bit of strength out of your muscles, keep reading for everything you need to know about these gym accessories. Before long, you'll be hitting a new personal record.
What Are Wrist Wraps?
Wrist wraps are adjustable bands made of neoprene and velcro that work to stabilize the wrists during a workout. While their name is pretty self-explanatory, some people misunderstand their purpose.
They keep the wrists in a neutral position, which prevents hyperextension and other similar injuries. Wrist wraps are especially beneficial for workouts like the bench press and shoulder press, where you need that extra bit of support.
Contrary to popular belief, wearing wrist wraps won't make your wrist weaker. Although, you may want to add a wrist workout like wrist curls to continue building your wrist strength.
They also aren't designed to alleviate pain. Wrist wraps should not be confused with wrist braces.
Finally, understand that you're not a "cheater" for using wrist wraps at the gym. Don't fall victim to the overconfident machismo other gym-goers might display. Lifting with wraps is safer than lifting without them.
How to Use Wrist Wraps
The best kind of wraps are adjustable and can fit virtually any wrist size. To use them, you'll simply undo the velcro straps and fasten them around your wrists. Some wraps have thumb loops, but most do not.
When tightening the wraps, you want them the fit snugly but not so tight that they restrict blood flow. Of course, to do their job properly, the wraps need to be tight enough to not flex under heavy weight.
Also, ensure that the straps are properly fastened so they don't come undone during a lift.
What Are Knee Wraps?
Functionally, knee wraps work a lot like wrist wraps and are even made of the same materials. Knee wraps support the knees and calf muscles and provide the same sort of stability that wrist wraps offer wrists.
You'll want to use knee wraps when you tackle your heaviest leg exercises. They're especially helpful when performing squats since the flexing action can add some extra power to the pressing motion, which helps you lift more.
That's actually the main difference between knee wraps and wrist wraps. Wrist wraps need to remain rigid, while knee wraps will naturally flex.
Of course, the reduced risk of hyperextension is more important than the performance increase.
However, knee wraps should only be worn when doing the heaviest leg lifts. You don't want to become overly reliant on them.
Wearing knee wraps at the gym can also improve your leg presses and deadlifts. The added stability will be incredibly beneficial.
The 2 Knee Wrapping Techniques
Unlike wrist wraps, there are two ways to wear knee wraps. They're called the spiral technique and the cross technique. How you choose to wrap your knees is a personal preference.
The Spiral Technique
To employ the spiral technique, start off by sitting at the end of a bench and extending your leg while keeping your muscles relaxed. Then, wrap the non-fastening end of the knee wrap around your leg just below the base of your knee.
Continue to wrap in an upward spiral motion until you reach your upper thigh. Each wrap around your leg should mostly cover the previous layer. Then, fasten the velcro strap and move on to the other leg.
As you wrap, be sure to pull your knee wrap tight enough so that the elastic flexes when you bend your knee.
The Cross Technique
The cross technique starts out the same as the spiral technique. Sit and extend your leg and start wrapping just below the knee. Be sure to relax your leg muscles.
Then you'll wrap your knee in an upward motion similar to the spiral technique, but with each wrap only covering about half of the previous layer rather than mostly covering it.
When you reach your upper thigh, you'll wrap your knee from the top to the base in a downward spiral, creating a cross with the wrap. You'll still want each wrap to cover about half of the previous layer.
A Word on Lifting Straps
If you're really trying to bulk up, one of the best accessories to add to your gym bag is lifting straps. They look a lot like wrist wraps but serve a completely different purpose.
Lifting straps are worn around the wrist and fastened to a barbell or dumbbell during a heavy lift. They reduce the likelihood of failure by reducing the amount of grip strength needed to complete the lift.
If you need a little bit more support for your deadlift or need some extra grip strength to power through your bent-over row, these are a must-have. They allow you to lift more weight without worrying about dropping the bar.
More importantly, they'll keep you safe while you push yourself to lift heavier weight.
Make sure your lifting straps are fastened tightly. If they're too loose, they won't provide the necessary support. You may even end up hurting yourself if you count on a loose strap to support the weight.
Where to Find the Best Workout Gear
From wraps to straps, your workout gear needs to keep you safe. While the performance increases can be remarkable, safety should always be your number one priority.
Whether you need wrist wraps to aid your bench press, knee wraps to stabilize your squats, or lifting straps for your deadlifts, MISC SHOP has you covered. Check out our entire line of gym products.