As with everything involving health and fitness, there is a difference of opinion when it comes to the virtues of weight lifting chalk over weight lifting gloves. If you’re hitting the iron and pushing enough weight for details like this to count, you should probably make an educated judgement call. The two options are not created equal.
Sweaty palms are more than an inconvenience in the gym – they can be a liability. If your grip slips at the wrong time, it can result in serious injury. It also diminishes the amount of weight you can lift. Weight lifters have devised a few ways to combat slippage. The two most popular are lifting gloves and lifting chalk. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of both.
Lifting gloves can be a good way to improve the stability, safety and comfort of your lifts. They also look cool.
Their major benefit is that they shield your palms from abrasion from knurling on barbells and dumbbells. Lifting with gloves is definitely more comfortable on your skin than lifting with chalk or unaided. They also decrease the amount of blisters and callouses you’ll develop, though won’t eliminate them entirely.
Lifting gloves also offer additional wrist support. Some gloves come with specialized built-in wrist straps, which may be appealing for some lifters who are worried about wrist injury.
However, gloves do impair your strength. The thick leather expands the diameter of the bar, decreasing your grip strength. They can also interfere with your form, especially in the overhead press and bench press.
Most weight lifting purists are advocates of lifting chalk over gloves. Chalk improves your grip and prevents slippage while not altering the biomechanics of your hands and arms. It is also very cheap.
The only major drawback of grip chalk is the mess. Chalk powder can be hard to keep under control and may end up getting all over your gym bag, clothes, and the gym’s floor. As well as anything you touch, after you apply the chalk. And when lifting chalk mixes with sweat, it can form a gross residue in the bar’s knurl that can be a challenge to remove.
For these reasons, many gyms, especially big box gyms, don’t permit the use of chalk. But there’s a workaround – you can now buy products called “grip lotions,” a liquid form of chalk that can be applied without mess. They are, of course, more expensive than straight chalk.
So, if your gym permits it, it’s best to use chalk over gloves. They confer all the same advantages without cutting into your strength and form. Otherwise, liquid chalk or lifting straps are the next best options.