Last updated on October 16th, 2022 at 11:42 am
It’s something I’m sure you’ve considered, “Should I Use Wrist Wraps For Bench Press?”
You’ll often see many lifters using wrist wraps when they bench press.
So, if it’s not something you’ve tried before then I’m sure you’re curious about the benefits.
Will wrist wraps help you to lift more weight?
Is it considered a safer way to bench press?
Allow me to reveal everything you need to know about bench pressing with wrist wraps.
Should I Use Wrist Wraps For Bench Press?
Wrist wraps are great to use for bench press if you have small or weak wrists. A wrist wrap isn’t specifically intended to help you to press more weight, although it may certainly help. They mainly ensure that your wrists stay straight throughout the movement. This is especially important when you bench press particularly heavy weights. With that being said, you should only use wrist wraps for your heaviest sets. If you choose to use them for every single set the likelihood is that your wrists will become weaker over time.
1. Wrist Wraps Are Ideal For Small or Weak Wrists
Firstly, let’s deal with the elephant in the room – wrist straps vs. wrist wraps.
Wrist straps are typically used with pull-based exercises, and their primary function is to improve grip strength.
So, wrist straps are most commonly used with exercises like deadlifts or heavy bent-over rows.
The aim here is usually to wrap the straps around both your wrist and the bar, thus allowing you to pull more weight.
However, this is not what you want when bench pressing.
In fact, there are no grip issues with bench press and you don’t want to be “attached” to the barbell with a heavy weight over your body.
When it comes to bench pressing you can use wrist wraps.
Wrist wraps are intended to provide stability to the wrists.
Wrist stability is extremely important during pressing movements, such as overhead press and bench press.
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And this especially true if you have particularly small or weak wrists.
In fact, it’s not unheard-of for extremely big powerlifters to have really small wrists in comparison with the rest of the body.
Wrist size is all about the bone structure, so some of us definitely have smaller or narrower wrists than others.
And unfortunately, as the weight you press gets heavier you’re more likely to see your wrists bend back unnaturally.
Basically, your wrists aren’t strong enough to fully support the weight on the bar.
You can actually bench press (or overhead press) with this bent wrist position, but it definitely isn’t advisable.
Over a period of time this can certainly lead to various wrist injuries.
However, wrist wraps will provide full support for smaller wrists, which of course is a much safer way to bench press.
Additionally, when wearing wrist wraps the weight may feel lighter in your hand and you can push your wrists and forearms beyond the normal capabilities.
So, in effect, you may find that wrist wraps allow you to bench slightly more weight.
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2. Only Use Wrist Wraps For the Heaviest Sets
Okay, as I’ve mentioned, wrist wraps mainly provide stability for the wrists.
This is ideal if your wrists typically bend whenever you press.
Unfortunately, bent wrists provide an energy leak when you bench press a bar or weight overhead.
In other words, you won’t be getting your maximum power output with bent wrists.
However, in my mind, this isn’t particularly an issue when you’re benching lighter weights.
Therefore, if you’re bench pressing for 8 reps or over I don’t actually see the need for using wrist wraps.
For me, you should only be using wraps if you’re benching 85% and over of your one-rep max.
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So realistically, only use wrist wraps if your set is 5 reps or under.
The reason I say this is that you don’t want to become over-reliant on using wrist wraps every single time you bench press.
This can lead to more instability in the wrist, plus your wrists are likely to become weaker without direct stimulation.
Therefore, with a standard bench press workout you’ll lift wrap-free for your first 2-3 sets.
This will usually involve a warm up or two and a lighter working set.
It’s not until you hit those final 2-3 really heavy sets that you’ll want to put your wrist wraps on.
This way you’re only using them when you really actually need them.
3. Wrist Wrap & Thumb-Loop Technique
There is an ideal technique when it comes to wearing wrist wraps.
It isn’t just a case of wrapping material around your wrists and hoping for the best.
Firstly, you’ll want to bench with nothing more than the standard 24-inch wrist wraps.
I know there are far longer wraps, but these aren’t so good when it comes to benching.
In fact, an excess of material may even limit you in your pressing movements.
You should also be aware that wrist wraps are intended for either the right or left hand.
You can determine this by placing them on a flat surface and seeing which end the thumb loops are at.
You then insert your thumbs into the loops, but the first wrap around the wrist shouldn’t be extremely tight.
Basically, you’ll go tighter with each subsequent wrap.
So, in effect, the first wrap is just above 50% tightness, the second wrap should be quite a bit tighter, and then usually the final wrap is as tight as possible.
This actually allows you to remove your thumbs from the loop.
Just in case you weren’t aware, most powerlifting meets will require the lifter to have their thumbs outside the loop during the bench press.
Plus, by not pulling so tightly on the first wrap, your wrist is extremely well-supported, but you still have some flexibility of movement.
This should allow you to bench press freely and safely, while remaining strong in the wrist.
How to Use Wrist Wraps
4. Remove the Wrist Wrap After Each Set
I also believe you should remove wrist wraps after each set.
The main reason for this is that once they are wrapped tightly around your wrists they will cut off the blood circulation to your wrists, hands, thumbs and fingers.
So, if you have them on throughout your workout you could end up with numb hands.
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This of course is extremely dangerous as you may not feel the bar properly.
Plus, it can also affect your grip on the bar.
Therefore, whatever you do, don’t put your wraps on at the beginning of your workout and keep them on all the way through until you’ve finished.
So, in effect, you’ll only have your wrist wraps on for the heaviest sets and you should remove them straight after your set while resting.
If you follow this exact protocol you can bench press far more safely.
And it’s likely that you’ll be able to hit a bit more weight or slightly more reps on those really heavy sets.
5. Make Sure Your Bench Press Grip is Correct
Before you even think about using wrist wraps you need to ensure that your bench press grip is correct.
So, you want to have the bar as low as possible in the hand.
There is a tendency to grip the bar with the middle of your hand or even higher, but this is incorrect.
In essence, you want the bar to be resting on the meaty part of the thumb muscle.
Your thumb should be wrapped around the bar, while the fingers are pinched over the top.
If from this position you fail to maintain a straight wrist then wrist wraps are a great way to make sure that your wrists stay straight and are supported.
But, it’s extremely important to get your grip on the barbell correct in the first place.
The Perfect Bench Press Grip For Strength & Stability
So, I hope you understand that wrist wraps can be an integral part of bench pressing.
This is especially true if you have small or weak wrists.
The aim of wrist wraps is to allow you to keep your wrist perfectly straight and well-supported throughout the pressing movement.
Unfortunately, if your wrists automatically bend when you bench then you’re losing out on a lot of power, plus this could be a precursor for a wrist injury.
With that being said, you should only use wrist wraps for your heaviest sets.
And they definitely shouldn’t be worn throughout your entire workout.
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Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.