Straps are another common piece of paraphernalia you'll see in the gym. Made of sturdy, nonstretch material, straps are worn around your wrists and then wrapped around the bar that you plan to lift. The purpose of straps is to ease the burden on the gripping muscles in your hands and forearms that often fatigue before the larger working muscles.

Take exercises like deadlifts, pull-ups, and/or cable rows, which we'll explain in depth in Chapter 16, "Flip Side." These exercises all involve movements that tax large muscles and hence require you to lift a fair bit of weight. While overusing straps can prevent those hand and forearm muscles from becoming stronger, they are useful when a weak grip inhibits you from completing the exercise, a common occurrence if you're lifting a lot of weight.

As you may have gathered by now, we're not big proponents of gadgets that will make your exercises easier. Still, after you spend enough time at the gym, you'll see tremendously strong people who lift with a weight belt, wrist and knee straps, and gloves. What's up with that?

People who lift a lot and often have developed their own habits—good and bad— over many years of experimentation. However, when you start out, it's important to establish good habits, to lift with sound technique and with as little interference as possible—just you, the weight, knowledge, and plenty of desire.

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