Yup, there’s a crossfit accessory to cover pretty much every single part of your body. But the fact that you are here reading this means you probably care about your body (and your wallet!), and want to find out more about the why and the how. Two big thumbs up to you! I personally don’t understand people who buy every single crossfit “gimmick” just to have it, running around the box like Danny Broflex.

So, let’s delve into whether wrist wraps actually help or hinder us. Here’s what we’ll be running through with you in this article:

In this article we will cover…

  • Are crossfit wrist wraps good or bad to use in training?
  • In which movements and scenarios should I (or should I not) use them?
  • The different types of crossfit wrist wraps and their individual qualities
  • How to choose the best ones for you and your needs
  • A list of our top 5 pick, and what sets them apart

Table of Contents

Why Use Crossfit Wrist Wraps?

Wrist wraps are supposed to strengthen and support your wrists, which only really needs to be done during lifting. If worn properly, wrist wraps help in both flexion (i.e. top of a high-pull), extension (i.e. front rack), and compression (i.e. overhead holds/squats).

Also read: What Are Wrist Wraps For and How Do They Help?

Do Wrist Wraps Help My Grip?

Yes, wrist wraps do help strengthen your grip for max lifts, but you should only use them in this fashion if your aim is to isolate the muscle group/movement you are trying to work on (i.e. deadlift) and you know your grip will give in before your hamstrings do. Use it as a way to isolate and strengthen a particular muscle group, not as a permanent solution.

Lifts where wrist wraps could be used include:

  • Cleans
  • Jerks
  • Bench
  • Overhead anything (walks, lunges, squats)
  • Snatches
  • Front rack anything (squats, lunges etc)
  • Deadlift (for grip strength)

I suppose they could also be used to protect your wrists when doing ring muscle ups, but I have no evidence to back that up…also, there are arm sleeves for that 😉

The list above does NOT mean you use wrist wraps every time you do any of these movements – it’s really important to know when to use them, and when to avoid them altogether.

How Do I Know When to Use Them And When to Avoid Them?

There is definitely a good and a bad time to use wrist wraps for crossfit (or any lifting for that matter). Generally, you can (I won’t say should) use wrist wraps:

  • When going for a heavy (70%+) lift, and definitely for 1RM’s
  • If you will be doing high rep ranges (10 consecutive or more) of medium weights
  • If you have a prior injury, are in recovery or have been told by a healthcare professional that you should be using one!
  • To assist your grip strength when wanting to isolate a muscle group for training

On the flipside, do not use wrist wraps if:

  • You are warming up: this, more than anything, will do you more harm than good. During your warm up you are literally getting your muscles and joints ready for a workout, and de-loading them defeats the purpose of a warm-up
  • You are a beginner: you need to strengthen those wrist muscles, and as a beginner you should not be going super heavy regardless
  • You are doing light to medium weights at low to medium rep schemes: same reason as above
  • You are using them to assist grip strength when not needed (i.e. your grip would not give out before other muscle groups)

You might want to read: Should You Use Wrist Wraps for Lifting?

Remember, the purpose of wrist wraps are to avoid injury and provide additional support where needed. Whenever they are not needed to avoid injury, they do more harm than good, as these are opportunities for your wrists to naturally strengthen your wrist flexors and extensors. There is obviously no definitive line here, and so (god forbid), common sense must prevail.

Do I Use Wrist Wraps for Gymnastics movements?

For the basic version of gymnastics that is involved in crossfit, you don’t need wrist wraps at all. That said, if there is a WOD that involves gymnastics movements and, say, a couple of really heavy snatches, you don’t need to take them off between the movements. They won’t hurt to have on – they just simply don’t contribute to anything.

My Wrists Hurt in a Front Rack Position – Do I Need Wrist Wraps?

I have seen a lot of athletes complain about wrist pains when in a compromising position, like a front rack. Of course this could be due to an underlying joint or medical issue, but I think more often than not it’s just poor mobility. You could be tight in your shoulder flexors or external rotation, or have poor thoracic extension.

If you suffer from this, go see an exercise physiologist to determine if it’s lack of flexibility or something more nefarious. If that seems daunting, stretch out shoulders, forearms and wrists extensively prior to doing cleans or front squats, and see if that helps.

If your wrists are hurting due to known a strain or injury done previously, wrist wraps are a great way to help support the wrist during any movement you know agrovates it.

A few years ago, I got a minor sprain in my wrist, which lingered for a good 2 months. I could use it normally for everyday use without feeling any pain, however, give me a bar in front rack, KB swings, snatches or most movements that involved putting weight through the wrist, it would start to hurt. It was actually then that I picked up my first pair of wrist wraps, and I must say, they were a godsend!

They allowed me to continue my training (gently!) even though it was hurt. Please go and see a professional before just going ahead and doing the same thing, your situation may have been different from mine. Bottom line is, yes, they help and you will need them if you intend to continue training.

The proper way of putting on wrist wraps

Instead of trying to explain this in text, it would be easier to have Tanner from Rhino fitness show you, as well as give a brief overview of when and how to use them:

Are There Different Types of Wrist Wraps?

Yes there are, although there is definitely one type that is used more frequently for crossfit than any of the others.

Materials

There are 3 main types of materials that wrist wraps are made of – cotton, velcro and leather. I’m sure there are others, more obscure materials, but I’ll stick to these three for now.

Unlike boxing wrist wraps, which are like 10m long (not really, but almost!) usually the crossfit wrist wraps are made of cotton and about 35”/90cm long.

Cotton

Cotton is the most common material for crossfit wrist wraps, as it’s softer, more pliable and able to be used for a wider range of lifts/motions. They are also much easier to adjust/pull into place mid-workout, as opposed to having to take them off and start again.

You can also keep then on while doing other movements without being too much in the way, which can be handy in a WOD.

Leather

Leather is obviously much thicker than cotton, and is made for rigid movements, and very heavy weights. They will provide more support on your wrist, and would be extremely difficult to do alternative movements in. If you are serious about your lifting, and you are lifting heavy, then you can always give them a go!

Velcro

Velcro is like the in between – also quite rigid, but not as much as leather. They are made for a snug fit, and will help stabilize the wrist more than cotton. These, too, are more suited to a lifting session than a WOD.

Styles

There different styles include regular wraps, loop straps, speed straps and hook straps. Let’s find out what the difference is:

Regular Wraps

Regular wraps are definitely the most versatile, and therefore the one most commonly used by crossfitters. They tend to be approximately 35”/90cm long and have a hook at one end. The idea is you thread your thumb through the end, and wrap the fabric around your wrist, not too tight, but not too loose, until you run out of fabric. There is usually a rubber band at the end which helps you lock it in place.

Loop Straps

Loop straps are exactly what they sound like – a loop which you thread around your wrist, and then around the bar so that you can hold onto the bar easier. They are pretty tricky to get right (especially the second one when you only have one hand to use) and make it riskier and more awkward to bail out of a lift.

These would only need to be used in extremely heavy lifts, where grip would give out first unless used. These should only be used when trying to eliminate the grip factor altogether, and in isolating focus muscle groups. I would recommend these only be used by experienced athletes, and only when the intention is training isolated muscle groups.

Speed Straps

Very similar to loop straps, but with less material to get in the way. More difficult to get a secure grip, but easier to bail out of. Same recommendations as for the loop straps apply.

Hook Straps

Velcro band fits around your wrist, and there is a solid hook that “holds” the bar for you. This fulfills the same function as the loop and sped straps, and is easier to put on. Downsides are that your grip does not get the same workout at all, and so it compromises your grip strength more than the other two.

Read more: How to Wash Wrist and Hand Wraps Without Tangles

What do you need to consider when choosing?

Let’s simplify which wraps suits who, with a couple of scenarios:

Scenario 1: I am an intermediate level crossfit athlete, and I just want some additional support during regular WOD’s to avoid injury, and/or my wrists sometimes hurt a little after heavy lifts.

Answer: Regular cotton wrist wraps. [Product suggestion]

Scenario 2: I regularly do my own strength training alongside crossfit and put a lot of pressure on my wrists doing heavy lifting (70-80%+) a couple of times per week.

Answer: Regular cotton wraps (for WOD’s) AND velcro/leather loop or hook wraps for strength/lifting sessions where weights exceed 70-80%. [Product suggestion]

Scenario 3: My mobility and/or flexibility is quite poor, and I want extra support to help me hold the weight.

Answer: Do not use wrist wraps – work on your mobility until you can comfortably hold positions like front squats and clean and jerks at a medium weight (up to ~60%), without pain.

Scenario 4: I am a beginner, and I’m not sure whether or not I need wrist wraps yet.

Answer: You probably don’t need any at this stage. Once your form/technique is good enough, and you start loading the bar full of weights, you can look into it again.

Our Top 5 Picks:

#1 – WOD Wear Elastic Wrist Wraps

The winner of our list is a “WOD-a-licious” wrap – i.e. better suited for a high paced WOD with a variety of movements that require more flexibility on the wrists. Because who has time to take wrist wraps off mid-WOD? Rest bucket anyone?

There are two WOD Wear wrist wraps, one is elastic and one is static. I will only be reviewing the elastic one, as I find the static one has too many downsides (no thumb loop, difficult to put on, not sweat absorbing, limited support and expensive).

WOD Wear Elastic Wrist Wraps

Details

The WOD Wear (elastic) wrist wraps are 3”/7.6cm wide and 18”/46cm long and made of fabric and heavy duty velcro with high quality stitching. The slightly softer material (as compared to our runner-up Rip Toned) means these are slightly more pliable.

The material also ensures comfort, being non-irritating and sweat absorbing. Unfortunately it only comes in one size and (seemingly) one color.

These wrist wraps are best suited for…

A high paced WOD with a variety of movements, removing the need to take them off and on between movements and stations. Also provides support for strength sessions and heavy lifts, just not as much as the Rip Toned.

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What We Like…

  • They are nice and wide, and therefore sits securely on your wrist
  • This also means they suit wider wrists well
  • They are softer than the Rip Toned wraps, which means you can wear them for a wider range of movements
  • The material is heavy duty and the stitching is quality
  • They are, by democratic vote, more comfortable than the Rip Toned ones, and the fabric is non-irritating
  • They absorb sweat
  • They are shorter than a lot of wrist wraps, making them very easy to put on (approx. 2-3 laps around your wrist, obviously depending on the sizeof your wrist)
  • They are very inexpensive for the level of quality

What We Don’t Like…

  • There is not much variety, with only one size and one color (as far as I can tell)
  • They are slightly better suited for larger wrists than thin ones. Young athletes, females and males with abnormally thin wrists (dr. Delbert Doppler anyone? No??)

Value for money/Our score

Has to be a 9.5/10!

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#2 – Rip Toned Wrist Wraps

Second on our list by a hairline are the Rip Toned wrist wraps. You’ll find these wrist wraps topping pretty much every single list (at least with crossfit) – and there is a reason for that.

Riptoned Wraps - 5 of the Best Weightlifting Wrist Wraps

Details

The Rip Toned wrist wraps are the same dimensions as the WOD Wear wrist wraps (18”x3”) and made of heavy duty velcro with a reinforced thumb loop. They have double-cross stitching which means they are made to last!

They come in two different thicknesses, a stiff one and a medium stiff one, both of which are fairly stiff. They have 5 different colors to choose from, but only one size.

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These wrist wraps are best suited for…

Weightlifting, as they are fairly stiff. These you would probably want to take off if you are doing heavy lifting in the middle of a WOD.

Read more: 5 of the Best Weightlifting Wrist Wraps

What We Like…

  • They have been endorsed by former World Champion powerlifter Kevin Weiss
  • They are nice and wide, and therefore sits securely on your wrist
  • The material is heavy duty and the stitching is quality, the best quality on our list in fact!
  • They are shorter than a lot of wrist wraps, making them very easy to put on (approx. 2-3 laps around your wrist, obviously depending on the sizeof your wrist)
  • They are very inexpensive for the level of quality
  • There’s a number of colors to choose from

What We Don’t Like…

  • They only come in one size (18”x3”)
  • Again, slightly better suited for larger wrists as opposed to thinner ones

Value for money/Our score

They just miss out on the top spot in our list – but we give these babies a 9/10

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#3 – Schiek

The second product on our list that is endorsed by a professional athlete – this time by Mr Olympia Phil Heath. That should be enough of an indication that these are probably better suited for strength training and 1rm attempts than regular WOD’s.

Schiek Wrist Wraps

Details

The Schiek’s are 12”/30cm long, so very short, and make for a very quick and tight set-up. They are made from canvas and velcro, and similarly to our top picks, the stitching is high quality.

This wrap comes in 2 sizes, so you can choose if you want the succinct 12”, or 24”, which gives you a bit more to play with.

These wrist wraps are best suited for…

Weightlifting, as they are fairly stiff. These you would probably want to take off if you are doing heavy lifting in the middle of a WOD. These wraps are very stiff until you “wear them in”, but you can warm them up a bit by just pulling and twisting them for a while.

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What We Like…

  • They are endorsed by Mr Olympia Phil Heath
  • The material is heavy duty and the stitching is quality
  • As the shortest wraps on our list, they are very quick and easy to put on
  • Because of the short length, they actually suit thinner wrists quite well
  • We like the two size options, which none of the competitors are offering

What We Don’t Like…

  • There is just the one color – but it is a cool one!
  • They are a lot more expensive than their competitors
  • Due to the short length, they are very stiff, and need to be “warmed up”

Value for money/Our score

We give the Schiek’s a solid 8/10

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#4 – Evolutionize Wrist Wraps

The Evolutionize wrist wraps are another great option for versatility and general crossfit workouts, as they are more elastic for flexibility, yet firm for support.

Evolutionize Wrist Wraps

Details

The evolutionize wrist wraps are wide at 3”/7.6cm and 18”/46cm long. They are made from a proprietary heavy duty elastic, which really forms around your wrists, unlike many other wrist wraps which are very easy to make too tight, or not tight enough.

These wrist wraps are best suited for…

A high paced WOD with a variety of movements, removing the need to take them off and on between movements and stations. Also provides support for strength sessions and heavy lifts.

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What We Like…

  • They are nice and wide, and therefore sits securely on your wrist
  • This also means they suit wider wrists well
  • They are super elastic and soft, making them ultra comfortable and making for a very snug and supportive fit
  • Very easy to put on and wear
  • They absorb sweat and are non-irritating
  • Proprietary elastic material, which gives them an edge over competitors

What We Don’t Like…

  • There’s only the one color, being black
  • Only one size, which is better suited for larger wrists

Value for money/Our score

We think these wraps are at least as good as the Schiek’s, and so we give them 8/10

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#5 – WODIES Workout Gloves

This one is a bit of a dark horse, and I was contemplating whether or not to put these on the list, as they are not conventional wrist wraps. But – I use them all the time, and I really like them, so here it goes.

WODIES Workout Gloves

Details

Wodies are a 2-in-1 wrist wrap and grips. The grips are 8”/20cm long and the wrist wraps are 3”/7.6cm x 18”/46cm and made from high-quality, hypoallergenic, latex-free woven elastic. They are designed with little grooves to hold chalk for additional grip, and also sweat absorbing.

These wrist wraps are best suited for…

A high paced WOD with a variety of movements, removing the need to take them off and on between movements and stations. Not recommended for strength sessions and heavy lifts, as the grip portion may compromise your connection/hold on the bar – but this is a matter of preference.

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What We Like…

  • They double as grips, which is really handy if you are doing a WOD with rig movements as well
  • They are nice and wide, and therefore sits securely on your wrist
  • This also means they suit wider wrists well
  • Very easy to put on and wear
  • They absorb sweat
  • The grooves in the grips hold chalk, making it easier to hold on to the bar even when you are very sweaty
  • They come in 4 different sizes which is handy
  • They have a while array of colors to choose from (13 to be specific), so you will be able to match any outfit
  • The fact that they double as grips means you don’t have to buy both

What We Don’t Like…

  • When it comes to wrist support alone, there are better options, but as an all-rounder, these are great

Value for money/Our score

I give my trusted old Wodies an 8/10, so technically tied third place. They are all equally good, just good in different situations.

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Conclusion

Remember – you don’t need wrist wraps to get stronger at lifting. I know plenty of people (I would say the vast majority at my box, including my girlfriend) who don’t use them. But if you do want to go ahead and invest in some, if you take away nothing else from this article, remember these key items:

  • Never use wrist wraps during warm-ups, as this counteracts the purpose
  • Avoid using wrist wraps for light and medium weights, as this inhibits the muscular growth in your wrists
  • Do not use wrist wraps as a bandaid for poor mobility – if your wrists hurt in a flexion or extension position (i.e. front rack hold), see a professional and work on your flexibility instead
  • Use to help strengthen and stabilise your wrists for heavy lifting (70%+) or high rep ranges at medium reps
  • You may also use wrist wraps to help strengthen your grip when training specific muscle groups (i.e. hamstrings in a deadlift), and eliminate grip as a factor
  • The type of wrist wraps that will suit you best depends on whether you want wrist wraps better suited for regular WOD’s or weightlifting specifically. It will also depend what level you are at. Check the “Our Top 5” section above if in doubt of which one you should get
  • The advice given in this article is not intended for people with wrist injuries, conditions or recovering from either. If this is the case, you need to follow what your doctor has told you.

Featured image by Jim Lamberson

Matt Rollans

Matt Rollans

Matt has been doing Crossfit since 2015and is the founder of Rxdsleeves.com. He has competed in multiple competitions throughout his community. He has made it his mission to provide the best, high quality and honest reviews of crossfit products out there on the market.
Matts PRs can be found on the about page http://www.rxdsleeves.com/about/
Matt Rollans