When you walk into a gym and you look at the platform where people are lifting heavy, you’re bound to notice a few things. There’s a lot of chalk – everywhere, loads of yelling, lifting straps and belts, and also – tape. Now, typically, you will see it on the thumbs or on some of the other fingers of heavy lifters, but there’s no specific weightlifting thumb tape, is there?
In this article, we’re going to answer that question and more as we discuss why weightlifters use tape. What kind of tape is that, and whether you need it for your sessions? So, if that sounds like something you want to learn more about, then let’s get right into it.
Why Do Weightlifters Use Tape?
Most weightlifters use tape as a way to protect the skin on their thumbs and other fingers dry and comfortable. It also prevents their grip from slipping, especially for longer reps or simply during sweatier sessions. This specifically applies to people who like to use the so-called hook grip that tends to put a lot of pressure on the thumbs. Additionally, hook grips are known for causing the skin of the thumbs to tea, and the tape is one way to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Does Weightlifting Tape Affect Grip Strength?
One of the biggest problems most weightlifters face comes from the fact that their grip is often not strong enough for the kind of weight their body can handle. That’s why many use lifting straps to prevent the grip from failing. Having said that, how does tape affect that, and does it affect it at all?
Generally, a higher friction surface like thumb tape stops the bar from rolling in your hand and keeps it in place so that you can keep on lifting even if you get sweatier and feel your palms slipping. Along with that, the tape can help keep the barbell in place, as unexpected changes in position during the movement can cause you to drop the weight, especially when lifting heavy.
What Kind of Tape Do Weightlifters Use?
Not every kind of tape found in the pharmacy or even at a sporting goods store would be suitable for weightlifting. You have to look for one that is from a stretchy but durable material and with a textured surface. You also want to make sure it can stick to itself without leaving residue or requiring a band-aid. Other key characteristics include that it has to be easy to tear (with hands, without scissors), and it should be grippy so that the barbell doesn’t slip and slide in your hand. Unfortunately, many of the grips on the market lack those qualities or fall down on some of them, so you should avoid them if:
- They are too sticky and leave residue on your fingers
- It is hard to tear off with your hands, and you will have to carry scissors in your gym bag.
- It’s too thick and can’t be worn comfortably around the thumb.
- The same applies if it’s too thin and doesn’t offer adequate protection.
- It’s made from materials that tear too easily and aren’t adequate for dynamic movements.
- If it’s not labeled as athletic tape.
Buying any tape that has any of these characteristics will just be a waste of your hard-earned money. It will be either unpleasant to use, absolutely useless, or even harmful. Additionally, you should avoid wrapping your thumb with tape that reduces or cuts off the blood flow, as that will negatively affect your range of motion and can even cause paresthesia.
What Should You Look For In A Tape
Now that we’ve noted what you should avoid when buying tape for weightlifting let’s talk a bit about what you should look for. Ideally, the type you get has to:
- Be stretchy – that way, it’s going to feel comfortable, and it’s not going to restrict blood flow.
- Be easy to tear off – so you don’t have to spend five minutes tugging on it or carrying around scissors.
- Be durable – you’re going to wear it for at least an hour, and you’re going to put it through the ringer, especially as you increase the weight on your barbell. That’s why you want to avoid materials that tear quickly – they can compromise your grip and have you doing a more ineffective session.
Hopefully, this article helped you learn why and when weightlifters use tape. In general, you should only consider it if you’re lifting heavy multiple times per week and you’re using the hook grip. Additionally, the tape is also a must-have for all of you doing Olympic weightlifting, as the dynamic movements there can often lead to the thumb skin getting damaged if it’s not adequately protected.