Strength & Speed


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Gear Review: Harbinger Lifting Straps for OCR Training?

Posted by Evan Perperis on December 15, 2021 at 4:45 PM

Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) is so heavily focused on grip strength that the use of something like lifting straps seems to be the opposite of what you want.  After all, lifting straps are cloth or leather loops you wrap around your wrist to take your grip out of a movement that involves weights.  That’s the opposite of what we want to do….most of the time.  Here’s a couple of reasons you may want to add lifting straps into your strength training and why you should go with Harbinger Lifting Straps.

 

Forearms are much smaller than your back muscles:  Your forearms are a smaller muscle and will always become exhausted before you fully exhaust your back muscles.  It is one of the reason you’ll often see pro bodybuilders or strongmen using them.  It allows you to continue to improve back muscle strength even after your forearms have given out.


But if my forearms are exhausted, that means I can’t do obstacles so why do I need a stronger back?  Good question, let me give you a couple of examples.  You’re 16 hours in Spartan Ultra-World Championship or World’s Toughest Mudder and you’ve been failing the monkey bars for the last couple of laps.  However, you still have to pull yourself over a series of walls, an obstacle that requires back strength but not grip strength and is usually a mandatory obstacle.


Maybe you ran Conquer The Gauntlet’s Continuum race this year (5+ hour CTG Multi-lap), you quickly found out that even after failing obstacles like Pegatron (peg board), Tarzan Swing (rig), Cliffhanger (monkey bars) and Stairway to Heaven (all of which you can penalty out of), you still need to get over the Great Wall of America and the 5x8 foot Walls of Fury.  No penalty option, just the strength required to pull yourself over with your lat muscles.


What about at Spartan Races when you need to use your back muscles to help stabilize yourself during obstacles like bucket carry, sandbag carry and more?  The point is you want a strong back…even if your grip has already hit complete muscle failure.  Let your back muscles grow to their max potential, while continuing to work on your grip.

 

So I should use lifting strap all the time?  No!  Like most exercise tools and equipment, there is a time and place for it.  You want to be sure to exhaust the forearms completely first before switching to lifting straps for the last couple of exercises.  We all know the importance of grip strength, so make sure you train it adequately first.  Lifting straps can also be of use during very heavy compound movements like deadlifts where you are going below your five repetition max.  This can help make those movements safer and avoid a possible injury from losing your grip on the bar.


Why Harbinger Lifting Straps?  Harbinger makes lifting straps that are constructed of high quality leather as well as ones made of nylon and have padded options.  Plus, if you want to show some flair they even have pink leather straps and a variety of colors in the nylon option.  Harbinger is a major brand in the bodybuilding world because they provide high quality products at an affordable price.  Go into any gym in America (minus Planet Fitness) and I bet you’ll find some Harbinger products in there whether that be weight belts, straps, knee wraps, ab rollers, wrist wraps or dip belts.  They’ve been a leader in the industry for years and for a good reason.  I’ve had several of their products for over a decade and they are still functioning as good as new.  No rips, no torn seams, just high quality lifting equipment.


With the end of the season for most OCR participants, I encourage athletes to take a break from the running.  It gives you not only a physical break allowing minor aches to heal, but gives you a mental break allowing you to come back into 2020 ready to crush it.  The alternating periods of heavy strength with heavy speed training is a program I’ve been using since 2010 and have found great success as well as a way to avoid overtraining injuries.  Grab some lifting straps, head to the gym and be sure to practice safe sets.


If you want more training tips, pick up a copy of my bestselling book, Strength & Speed’s Guide to Elite OCR available off my website.

Categories: Strength, OCR