The Flexsolate Strap is a unique grip-assistance device in that it's NOT designed primarily to let you grip longer or stronger.
It's designed to FORCE your target muscles to contract more strongly by removing grip from the equation. Very interesting concept but does it hold up in the gym?
There are three schools of thought when it comes to grip assistance..."never," "when it's useful," and "too much."
The "never" school of thought holds that you should never use grip assistance (in the form of straps or hooks) to help in your training. The idea is that you won't develop grip strength or forearm mass without actually holding the weight yourself.
And there is merit to that! For the first probably 12 years of my training career, I never once used straps or hooks. And I developed excellent grip strength and forearms from it.
Then there is the "too much" school of thought. This is when a person uses grip assistance for just about everything. To put it bluntly, you don't need to wear lifting straps when you're doing dumbbell curls. You just don't.
These days, I fall into the "when it's useful" school of thought. I've found that using grip assistance when it's merited (like for very heavy pulling exercises and/or high volume back training) can really help accelerate muscle development, far more than relying on grip strength alone.
Then came the Flexsolate straps...
Honestly, at first, I didn't know what to make of them. They really don't help you lift heavier weight. They're just not designed for that purpose (even though they are well-built, using heavy weight is just not comfortable with them).
But what they DO give you is a whole new dimension to your training.
Yes, they DO take grip out of the equation of many exercises but they do so in a very useful fashion, transferring the tension DIRECTLY onto the target muscles.
This really shows up well with back training.
A lot of people have a tough time feeling their back working when they do back exercises. Standard grip assistance doesn't necessarily help with this as even with straps and hooks, you're still exerting some grip on the bar or handle.
With the Flexsolate straps, you're taking grip completely out of the equation on purpose. One end wraps around the bar...one end loops around your wrist - the hands are completely free, the forearms are relaxed.
And the tension goes directly into the target muscles.
The idea here is NOT to use more weight on the bar to try and force growth but to actually improve the FEEL of the exercise on the target muscle.
Does this happen with the Flexsolate straps? Absolutely! When I tested these straps out, I did a wide range of exercises...pulldowns, chins, rows, shrugs, even curls and pushdowns.
The straps did a great job of eliminating the middle man and sending tension directly to the muscle those exercises try to hit.
In fact, if you have a hard time feeling your back working when you do back exercises, these straps will be somewhat of a revelation for you! You'll probably experience soreness in places you've never felt before.
Would I train with these straps exclusively? Nope. I wouldn't. I would work them in when I felt I wanted to really laser-beam target the muscles.
There are times when I just want to hammer away with heavy weight and the straps would actually get in the way.
But for completely development, these straps are a GREAT addition to an experienced trainer's arsenal.
You'll notice I say EXPERIENCED. I wouldn't recommend these for beginners. I'm still of the mind that beginners SHOULD actually stay away from grip assistance and develop their base forearm and grip strength. Relying too much on straps (even these) would slow down that development.
But once you've gotten some training under your belt, these straps would be an excellent addition. They're very effective at increasing isolation of the target muscles and as a bonus, are very easy to carry with you to the gym.
Bottom line, Flexsolate straps are a very useful piece of training equipment when used for the right purpose.
As long as you keep the weight moderate, they're quite comfortable and easy to use. If you start going too heavy, the padded wrist straps will start digging in too much.
Overall, the straps are a highly recommended training tool for maximizing muscle development, though more useful for physique enhancement than strength-building.
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