Monday, September 15, 2014

Gear Review: Versa Gripps

I'm changing this up a little bit from my regular running gear reviews, because 1) most runners could use some time in the gym to prevent imbalances from forming and to keep themselves from getting skinny-fat, and 2) Versa Gripps are probably the best $55 that I've spent in a while. So I'm sure those of you who have spent time in the gym have seen people using lifting straps (not wrist wraps, but those long straps that get wound around the bar to keep weak grip strength from holding back other muscle groups by transferring some of the weight to the forearms) or lifting hooks (which serve the same purpose, only...they're hooks). Straps and hooks are cool because they're cheap, but they have a couple problems. First, straps take a while to wrap. Second, neither straps nor hooks will release quickly if you need to drop the weight in a hurry. And third, they're not all that comfortable. That's where Versa Gripps come in.

Versa Gripps' grip portion is self-supporting (left), yet easily flexes over the bar (middle)

Versa Gripps have a flexible, yet self-supporting gripping portion that you wrap around the bar, and then cover with your hand. Since the grip supports itself and kind of sticks out from your hand, it's super fast to get wrapped around the bar (much faster than a strap would be). Due to the tacky friction of the grip, they stay put on the bar, and you don't have to work very hard to keep them stuck to your hand, allowing you to really focus on the mind-muscle connection of the muscle group you're actually working. Prior to picking up Versa Gripps, I never felt pull-ups or lat pull-downs in my actual latissimus dorsi. However, not having to think about holding the bar allows me to focus 100% of my energy on lat contraction. I've found them to help in a similar way with bent rows and Yates rows. Additionally, they're allowing me to hit deadlifts and Romanian deadlifts a lot harder (I don't even need to mixed grip with Versa Gripps), since I can use a heavier weight and my grip is no longer holding back the bigger muscle groups, like legs, glutes, and back. They're also handy for farmer's walks, since I can carry around the weight until my grip fails, then use Versa Gripps to keep pushing until some other muscle group fatigues. Obviously you can use them on other lifts too, though those are some of the lifts where I've found the greatest benefit.

Not my paws aren't that beefy.

Versa Gripps have a foam padded wrist strap that distributes the weight better and more comfortably than a traditional strap. While the wrist strap is adjustable, they do come in sizes according to your wrist circumference. They're right and left specific, with a thumb indentation on one side of the grip. While they aren't super fast to get on your wrist, there's no problem getting Versa Gripps out of the way when you don't want to use them, since you can easily just rotate them to the back of your wrist and don't even need to actually take them off.

Supposedly Versa Gripps can also be used for pushing exercises, but I haven't found them to be as useful for those exercises (at least for me), and prefer to use wrist wraps when the weight gets too heavy. I can get regular wraps tighter than the Versa Gripps' wrist strap, and if it's not worth wrapping tightly, I'd be doing it raw anyway.

I'm sure some of you are wondering if these make your grip weak. Well, only if you don't train grip. Pick up a pair of grippers and do some forearm curls and reverse curls and you'll be just fine. There's no need to hold back everything else because your grip lags.

Versa Gripps FIT (left), CLASSIC (middle), and PRO (right)

You'll probably notice that there are three versions of Versa Gripps: FIT, CLASSIC, and PRO. The CLASSIC uses what Versa Gripps calls a "textured gripping material" for the gripping portion, though I haven't even seen it in person, let alone used it. The FIT and PRO use a tacky anti-microbial grip, though the PRO's is longer than the FIT's (the CLASSIC falls somewhere between the two). While the CLASSIC and PRO have a 1.5" wrist strap, the FIT's is designed for smaller arms and has a 1" wrist strap. I almost bought the FIT, but went with the PRO at the last minute after reading some reviews online, and haven't regretted it. The wider strap is comfortable and distributes the weight well (particularly on heavier lifts, like deadlifts and Romanian deadlifts), Also, because camo (okay, that's not why, but hey, the option was there, so why not?).

My not-beefy hands, with Versa Gripps PRO.

Versa Gripps are probably the single best purchase I've made for weight lifting, since they allow me to train big muscle groups without letting my grip strength (or lack thereof) hold me back, and even more importantly, help me to really focus on the mind-muscle connection of the target muscle group, rather than thinking about grip strength. If you're planning on spending any significant amount of time in the free weight section of the gym whatsoever, I'd highly recommend picking up a pair.

Versa Gripps are available on the Versa Gripps website, though you can find them elsewhere (I think I got mine on Amazon). The PRO retails for $52-55 depending on the color, the FIT retails for $52, and the CLASSIC retails for $40.

Full disclosure: Nothing to disclose, as this was a personal purchase. The opinions expressed in this review are mine and based on my experience, and do not reflect the opinions of Versa Gripps or anyone else.


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  3. Nice piece of information!!! A lot of people like to claim that weightlifting wrist wraps should never be used under any circumstance. To me, this is just one of those “I’m so hardcore!!” things people say to sound cool despite how dumb it actually is. Keep on sharing good stuff!!!


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