I prefer use chalk as a way to keep a good grip. But I also use lifting straps in certain circumstances. The premise behind straps is pretty simple–your grip may be a “weak link” which keeps you from training other muscles at maximum intensity.
But here’s the dilemma: you don’t want weightlifting straps to become a “crutch” which keeps you from developing grip strength. So be sure you are doing plenty of work (pulling, etc) without straps.
Here are situations where I use straps:
*High volume training: whenever I’ve done “German Volume Training” (10 sets, 10 reps) or similar types of training (lots of sets/reps) my grip wears out on the last few sets of back work. Straps come in handy here.
*Fatigue: Sometimes I do Romanian deadlift after squats or regular deadlifts (depending on how I have set up my training split). This means I’m very tired and covered in sweat. Straps help me focus on working my hamstrings without worrying about dropping the bar .
*Equipment issues: You may encounter situations where the grip threads on barbells, etc, just aren’t that great and straps give an extra measure of safety.
*Gym rules: a lot of gyms (even good gyms) don’t allow chalk. This is unfortunate, but to be honest, I understand the gym owner’s perspective–a lot of trainees would not think twice about making a huge mess (just think about how many people won’t bother to re-rack their weights).
I’ve always just used the plain, cotton version. Right now I’m using a pair of Grizzly brand straps that I’ve had for a while, but I’m guessing the brand isn’t terribly important (it’s just a strap, after all). You can click the image to check them out on Amazon and look at other brands/designs as well.