If you’ve ever suffered a wrist injury or have skinny/weak wrists, you’ve probably experienced discomfort when pressing weight in the gym.
It’s not fun – I know from experience.
Thankfully, there’s an affordable and simple solution: wrist wraps.
Wrist wraps create support around the wrist joint, allowing you to press with better form and without as much discomfort.
Unfortunately, most people don’t use them correctly, which minimizes their great benefits.
It’s not enough to just wrap them around your wrists and call it a day. In this article, I’ll show you exactly how to wear wrist wraps so you can lift confidently and pain-free.
What are Wrist Wraps?
Wrist wraps are a popular and space-friendly lifting accessory used to enhance wrist support during pressing exercises. Nobody wants to fail a lift because their wrists are a limiting factor, especially when they’re otherwise strong enough. By wrapping your wrists, you add structure around the joint to create stability. Worn correctly, they can eliminate pain, improve form, and possibly allow for heavier weights.
Most wrist wraps are secured with a velcro strap, although they may vary in materials and length (see more below). You can use them for powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, CrossFit, bodybuilding, and more.
How to Wear Wrist Wraps
Using wrist wraps isn’t rocket science, but you must take a few essential (and easy) steps to ensure the best results.
Step 1: Identify the Correct Hand
Most wrist wraps are sold with a left-handed and right-handed wrap. The first step is to identify the correct hand.
Lay your wraps on a flat surface with the velcro/logo side facing up and on the opposite side from one another, as shown in the photo.
If both thumb loops are facing the same direction, you have dedicated hand wraps (a good thing!). With both loops facing up, the one with the loop on the right side is for your left hand.
Step 2: Place the Loop Around Your Thumb
Now that you know which wrap is for which hand, it’s time to loop your thumb.
Slide your thumb through the loop from the inside so that the wrap sits on top of your wrist.
If you don’t have dedicated left and right-handed wraps (uncommon), one wrap will start underneath the wrist.
Step 3: Wrap the Material
The most important part of the wrapping process is to position the first rotation at the base of the palm.
If you just wrap it around your wrist, you won’t get any support – the wrap must cover the joint.
The first turn should be at around 60% intensity.
Once you’ve wrapped it around once, start working the wrap back down towards your wrist at around 80% intensity.
Continue wrapping around the wrist joint at 100% until fully wrapped.
The wrap should cover the base of the palm, but don’t go too high. You don’t want to interfere with the bar, and powerlifting rules (IPF) stipulate your wrap can’t extend past 2cm above the wrist joint.
Step 4: Secure the Wrap
The final step is to secure the wrap, which is simply done with a velcro strap.
Once secured, your wrist should feel very supported. If your hand turns white, blood isn’t circulating well – disengage the wrap and retighten with less intensity. The goal is to create stability, not cut off blood flow.
Next, remove the thumb loop – its only purpose is to assist in the initial wrapping. Not only will this be more comfortable, but powerlifting rules don’t allow you to lift with the thumb loop engaged.
With your wrist now wrapped, repeat the process on the other hand.
More Tips for How to use Wrist Wraps
Remove Wraps Between Sets
Removing your wraps after every set is best, especially if you’re wearing them tightly (commonly referred to as “casting”).
Trust me, you’ll appreciate the break.
In some cases, depending on how tight you wore the wraps, they may have shifted slightly during the lift.
Removing them after the set allows you to reset with perfect positioning for the next set.
Pick Wraps With the Right Material for You
Most wrist wraps are made from elastic mixed with cotton, nylon, and/or polyester.
All cotton wraps are also available. They’re more comfortable but not as rigid, making them better for more dynamic movements.
Blended materials typically have greater rigidity, which is better for heavier lifting. Some wrist wraps are also sold in two variants: regular and stiff.
If you’re a heavy lifter, I recommend the stiff version. Otherwise, regular wrist wraps are suitable for most people.
Pick the Optimal Length for Your Training Style
Wrist wraps typically come in three primary lengths: 12″, 18″, and 24.”
12″ wraps provide less support but more range of motion. These are ideal for dynamic movements and functional fitness.
18″ wraps provide a great balance between comfort and support. They work well for all types of lifting and are what I recommend to most people.
24″ wraps provide the most support, but they’re not the most comfortable and are bulkier. These are better for casting the wrist during heavy attempts.
Are Wrist Wraps Easy to Use?
There is a small learning curve to using wrist wraps, but once you get past it, they're very easy to use. With some practice, you'll be ready to lift in just a few seconds from start to finish.
Will Wrist Wraps Help my Bench Press?
Yes, the bench press can be hard on the wrists, especially if you have a history of injuries or discomfort. By stabilizing the wrists with wraps, you'll lift with a more neutral position, which is safer, more efficient, and more comfortable.
Will Wrist Wraps Make me Stronger?
No, wrist wraps will not make you stronger on their own. However, they can provide additional structure that improves form and reduces pain. Better form and less discomfort may allow you to lift heavier or longer, which can have a positive effect on strength.
Wrist wraps are an excellent accessory to stabilize your wrist, reduce pain, and lift with better form.
But you must wear them correctly.
Remember, wrap the entire joint, starting with the base of the palm, and gradually tighten the wrap as you go.
You’ll notice an immediate difference once you do it right, and once you figure it out, you can wrap up and get to lifting in only a few seconds.