I have previously talked about how much I dislike wearing gloves in the gym, and today I thought I would explain why.
Wearing gloves does nothing to improve your grip strength. You can claim otherwise but, based on my own personal experience, I think they make you a lazy lifter.
When I first started lifting weights, I was maxing out my deadlifts at 40kg (88lbs) because my grip was so weak. I could have lifted more if the bar had not been slipping out of my hands. During other exercises, especially rows or pulldowns, my hands hurt and I would often have to drop the weight simply because my hands couldn’t take the pain. Not to mention I wasn’t a fan of the nasty callouses I had started to build up on my palms.
Despite thinking to myself even then that wearing gloves would make me look like a pussy, I caved and bought a pair. I wore them for a couple of months before I started weaning myself off them. I decided to do this when one day I forgot my gloves and was disappointed that I couldn’t lift any of my regular weights because of my princess hands. Instead of wearing them during every workout, I cut back until I was only wearing them on back day.
Soon after, one of my gloves developed a hole. I took it as a sign to throw away my gloves and work on my grip the old-fashioned way.
It initially hurts to ‘lift raw’ but after a few weeks I promise your hands will toughen up and get used to it. When I gave up the gloves, I was still using lifting straps for chin-ups and deadlifts but I forced myself to lift with my bare hands for every other exercise. That alone was enough to strengthen my grip considerably, and I started lifting heavier weights than I ever had before.
About six months ago, I got rid of the straps altogether. I started doing more targeted grip work such as heavy farmers carries and dead hangs from the chin-up bar, as well as heavy deadlifts.
I’m now proud to say I can deadlift 85kg (187lbs) raw. When I attempt max lifts, I have been using a product called Liquid Grip. Like many others, my gym doesn’t like people using chalk but this stuff is brilliant as it doesn’t get everywhere. You rub it on the area of your callouses and it hardens into a chalk-like substance instantly.
I used the liquid chalk on Monday when I set a new PR of 95kg (210lbs) for deadlifts. Happy days!
I know a lot of people like wearing gloves because it prevents callouses. If you have callouses, they can be maintained. You don’t have to have completely gnarly hands with bloody callouses popping out everywhere. So long as you file or exfoliate your hands and apply a moisturiser regularly, you can maintain nice soft hands!
I am proud of my callouses. They are a great conversation starter. I love knowing that every time I look down at my hands, I am reminded that I am a strong and powerful woman. Callouses harden over time, which only makes your grip stronger.
I think that having a strong grip is just as important as having a strong squat, bench or deadlift. Being ‘strong’ involves your whole body. You must make time to train your grip, just as you would train any other body part.
I opened the question up to Facebook and Twitter and had some great responses – but I particularly loved Gabby’s reasoning for not wearing gloves:
Do you wear gloves? How do you improve your grip strength?