Nothing is more frustrating, and potentially dangerous, than feeling a heavy weight start to slip out of your grip. A dusting of chalk makes it a lot easier to grip the weights. Definitely consider using weight-lifting chalk when you’re doing deadlifts or other pulling movements.
While a block of chalk may not seem like a piece of “gear” per se, it certainly counts as one of the more indispensable items in your gym bag. Together with weight-lifting belts, weight-training gloves, wrist straps, wrist and knee wraps, blocks of chalk are a basic and effective weightlifting accessory. As opposed to other strength training accessories, this piece of “gear” hasn’t any known drawback.
What is weight-lifting chalk?
The chalk that is used in the gym is magnesium carbonate. Properly used, it helps a lot to ensure a secure grip. It also keeps the hands dry for a more secure grip on the weights (heavy barbells and dumbbells).
When to use chalk?
Use chalk everywhere you need the help, especially in back exercises, upper-body pressing movements,
and specialized grip work.
Advantages of using weight-lifting chalk
While the average gym goer might rely on weight-lifting gloves to maintain a secure grip, serious lifters know that nothing beats a naked, chalked-up hand. Gym chalk provides friction because it reduces moisture on your hands, and allows the knurling of the bar (the rough, file-like surface where you grasp the bar) to dig into the skin of your hands (it sounds painful, but it’s not).
Despite the increased comfort, gloves can actually hinder grip strength because they interfere with tactile feedback. Gloves simply interfere with your nervous system’s ability to sense the pressure of the weight in your hands. With the extra layer of material between you and the weight, gloves can also cause you to lose your grip on heavy weights.
Plus, the more serious lifters in your gym will know you’re just a pretender.
The one drawback to chalk is that commercial gyms often don’t allow it. There are, however, some lotions on the market that will dry on your hand to form a chalky-like surface. Liquid Chalk and Dry Hands are two of them. While not as ideal as chalk, both are better than gloves.
Most sporting-goods stores carry it and it’s dirt cheap – less than $5 for a large block. Before you rush out and buy it, however, check your gym’s policy. As already mentioned, many gyms won’t allow it because it can make a mess. Other gyms allow it only in the free-weight area.
How to use lifting chalk?
To use gym chalk, firmly rub a piece on your fingers and palms, including the inside area of your thumb and index finger. Rub your hands together and then blow off the excess, if there is any.
Be careful where you blow any excess chalk. Keep it away from your face or else the dust may impair your breathing or get in your eyes.
Clean the knurled parts of your bar(s) with a stiff brush immediately after the use, to prevent clogging of the knurling.
Bodybuilders learned the value of chalk from powerlifters, Olympic lifters and gymnasts. Appreciate the skin-on-metal contact of weight training, and the increased mental focus it provides. Toughen your hands with support-free training and use weight-lifting chalk as your only gripping aid.