Lifting hooks vs lifting straps for heavy lifts? 6 things to know

lifting hooks vs lifting straps


While some lifters train with bare hands, others just love to use gloves, straps or hooks to support heavy lifts. There is a whole different discussion going on between lifting bare hands or with lifting tool and we are going to cover that topic soon, this article is about finding a better choice between Lifting hooks and lifting straps.

The visible difference between lifting straps and lifting hook- A lifting strap is designed to wrap your wrist with a long piece of a strap that you need to loop around the barbell or dumbbell. A lifting hook comes with a velcro band which helps in securing the wrist from injuries and a hook-shaped metal which relieves the stress on the grip. 

Design is not the only difference between Lifting straps and hooks, these two tools widely differ in their functional capabilities. 

If used correctly, lifting hooks or straps can prove to be an incredible workout tool that can practically help you elevate your lifting performance, some studies has shown the increase of strength by up to 20-30%. But lifting hooks and straps are designed for their specific purposes and they have their pros and cons. A smart athlete is well aware of the art of using appropriate tools when it’s needed. 

Lets jump directly to the basic differences and their limitations. 

Lifting hooks vs lifting straps

1- Versatility

Versatility is definitely one of the primary factors to consider before making a purchase. Versatility includes the number of exercises you can perform with any particular tool. 

Lifting straps are a highly versatile lifting tool that can be used for almost any pull movement. Whether you want to do the chin-up or heavy barbell rows, lifting straps is a reliable solution. Some of the lifters are also using lifting straps for the front barbell squat which is notoriously difficult for the wrist, elbow, and shoulders. 

Dr John Rusin demonstrates the proper use of lifting straps for front loaded barbell squats.

On the other hand, the utility of lifting hooks will be limited to fewer exercises. You cant use lifting hooks with fat grip barbells, not all the dumbbells fit appropriately. Still, for the limited variations, these hooks can surely help you relieve excess stress from the wrist. 

2- Wrist support

Are you concerned about the wrist support? Lifting hooks are going to be a better choice. Lifting hooks come with a padded wrist wraps that provide added stability and maximum comfort to the wrist.

Wrist straps also provide little assistance to the wrist support but not as better than lifting hooks, since they are designed the mimic the natural grip.

3- Cost

Lifting straps are definitly cheaper than a lifting hook.

The cost of lifting hook may vary, depending on the quality and tensile strength of the hook. 

You can get a lifting strap in half the price of lifting hook. 

4- Muscle Isolation

Now the question arises, which lifting tool will help you do the majority of isolation work? Muscle isolation refers to the process of isolating targeted muscle groups to gain the maximum hypertrophy at the targeted region of the body. 

There is an old saying, if you want to increase muscle isolation then learn to use your hands as a hook. Whenever I demonstrate a proper isolation technique to my students (while lateral raise, one-arm rows, lat pulldowns, etc) , I demonstrate the process by using my hands as a hook instead of gripping the barbell tight. Strong grip increases the bicep engagement which might assist in lifting more weight but reduces the muscle isolation

The grip is one of the most powerful neurological stabilizers in the human body. Good for compound strength, BAD for isolation work.

Lifting hooks work better than lifting straps for the isolation movements. How? When you grip the bar hard you automatically engage your arms and other supporting muscles to do the half of movement for you. Hooks remove your grip engagements which result in better concentration on the targeted muscle groups. 

Lifting straps also reduces the involvement of wrist strength but they still require a good amount of wrist stabilization. 

5- Ease in setup

Lifting hooks are easier to setup, period! 

You just need to hook the barbell and you are done, but while workout with lifting straps you might require some level of expertise to properly wrap the lifting straps around the barbell for optimum support. 

Check the video of World Champion Powerlifter, Kevin Weiss, demonstrating the proper technique of wraping the strap around the barbell.

6- Lifespan

Lifting straps are built to last very long, my own lifting strap lasted for many years and I am still using them. 

Lifting hooks can break down, that depends on the quality of hook used by the manufacturer. Velcro of the lifting hooks is also a problem area that might seem to work less efficiently after a year of frequent usage. 

Let me make the decision making easier for you, let’s discuss the best use of both tools to help you find a tool that suits your purpose.  

Choose best for your purpose

Lifting hooks vs straps for deadlifts

If your primary purpose is to support your deadlift then I would personally suggest buying a lifting strap. 

World-class powerlifters have been using straps for deadlifts because of its benefits. Lifting straps mimic the natural grip to the barbell which helps in making a better mind and body connection. The major drawback of lifting hooks while deadlifting is you can’t drop the weight in case of reaching failure. 

If you have both straps and hooks then here is how to use them effectively, use straps while doing the super heavy deadlifts but hooks work really well when you are going for high volume deadlift. If you are targeting 8-12 reps then hooks can help you develop thicker back by reducing the engagement of arms.

Lifting hooks vs straps for farmers walk

Farmers walk is a popular training style to gain raw strength, farmers walk is usually done with the dumbbells or trap bars. 

Common problem faced while farmers walk is your grip strength reaches fatigue way before than the shoulders, traps and back. 

Using lifting hooks is the best way to improve upper body strength and train until failure. Lifting straps also helps in reducing the stress from forearms but they don’t work as good as hooks. 

You can work on some grip strength workouts to improve the grip strength to match your whole body strength but till then, use of lifting hooks will help you develop stronger and well defined traps and shoulders. 

Lifting hooks vs straps for hypertrophy

Straps are best for heavy pull movements but if your goal is better hypertrophy by muscle isolation then lifting hook is a better choice. 

I prefer using lifting hooks for my lat pull downs, single arm rows and other underhand barbell rowing. Hook reduces the assistance of arms for the lifts and increases the target muscle activation. 

Lifting hooks vs straps for ab training

Some people can’t really hang on a bar for more than a minute which makes hanging leg raise ineffective. 

Best solution is to hook yourself to the bar so that you can hang and train your abs until failure. 

Limitations of lifting straps and hooks

Every product has its own set of limitations. Lets understand the limitations of both.

Limitations of lifting hooks

  • Not best for Smaller hands
  • Un-natural 
  • Excess use might leave the forearm and grip strength underdeveloped. 
  • You cant drop the weight in the middle of the movement. 

Limitations of lifting straps

  • You need to learn the proper technique of wrapping them around the barbell.
  • Over reliance on straps might limit your grip strength.

Other FAQ

1- Are lifting hooks better than straps?

Straps are a better alternative to lifting hooks when it comes to mimicking natural grip, reaching maximum deadlift, cost-effectiveness, and durability but if you are suffering from the wrist or elbow injury then lifting hooks are certainly a better option.

2- Are Lifting Straps Or Hooks Cheating?

Using lifting straps or hooks is not cheating. Elite powerlifters use straps and hooks to improve the strength.
Fact is, your forearms and grip strength reaches fatigue way before then your traps and lats which restricts the amount of weight you lift. Using straps and hooks in a proper way will help in improving overall strength in the longer run.

3- Are Figure 8 Straps Better?

Different types of straps are available in the market, figure 8 straps got into the limelight because being used by professional powerlifters.
Figure 8 straps are known to secure better grip but the only drawback is you can’t drop the weight in between the movement.
Figure 8 strap should be used by experienced lifters only since they do no support the quick release

4- Do Lifting Hooks Make You Weaker?

No, they will make you stronger by helping you lift more weight. Over-reliance on hooks might leave your grip and forearm untrained.
Lifting hooks will help you pull more weight which definitly results in the stronger and bigger back but if you are using hooks while lifting then don’t forget to dedicate time to train your forearms at least 3-days a week.

Thanks for reading. Questions are welcomed in the comments as always. This site contains affiliate links as well as general health and fitness information. Please read my Medical Disclaimer and Writing Disclaimer for more information.   

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