It’s been a while since I’ve talked on this topic, but it is something that has caught my attention recently, especially as I too am one of the guinea pigs testing out the the workout program. Which means I’ve been lifting weights more than usual, which means an increase of the chances for me to develop calluses.
Now, you’ll notice that I placed an emphasis on the word ‘big’ in the title. The reason for this is that big calluses is what will cause you pain and grief. They’ll bleed and make your hands look like you have been playing around with razor blade sharp… ‘balls’.
Once this happens you will indeed be turned off from wanting to lift the bar. Which of course means no muscles to rip and build, no progress, super catabolism and a loss of muscles mass. This you don’t want (obviously).
So how can we avoid developing big calluses? (Small calluses aren’t a bad thing btw. It’s better to have some kind of callus formation rather than none. Because the bar will chop away at your baby soft hands and hurt. So grow some man hands already :))
#1 Be friends with Mr.Chalk
And I’m not talking about chalk for the use on the blackboard either.
Now, just like you see in the picture above, our fellow olympians don’t just use chalk because it looks like a cool thing to do. No. They use it for the same reasons that you will be using it. The first reason…
Chalk smooths out the grooves
If you look closely at the palms of your hands, you’ll see that they have grooves along the surface. Placing your hands in chalk will help fill the gaps in the grooves, giving your hands the feel of a smooth surface.
Prevent the sweat
If there is one thing that annoys me more than anything else while lifting is not being able to grip the bar, due to execessive sweat. It’s like being stuck in a traffic jam behind the wheel of a Ferrari. You know your car can move, but there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. You know you have the strength to lift big, but your sweaty hands just won’t hold out.
And that’s where Mr.Chalk comes in to save the day. Because he will indeed help prevent sweating in your hands, which in turn will increase your grip strength, especially when performing pulling exercises such as the deadlift, pull ups and cleans.
Don’t use gym gloves
Unless you want to keep lifting baby weights all your life.
This is because in order to become proficient at lifting the heavier weights as you progress, you will need to place an emphasis on some callus formation. That really is the only way you are going to survive the big weights later on in the program when performing exercises such as the deadlift.
But Shaun, isn’t the point of this article to help prevent the formation of calluses?
Yes… but again, take notice of the word ‘big’. That is what you don’t want. However, what you do want is the beginning stages of callus development, and then to keep it that way and under control!
Now, since we are living in the year 2011, you will probably notice a strong disappearance or lack of chalk in your local gym. Especially mainstream ones (Haaail to the old school hardcore gym).
The main reason for this is that chalk is messy, and gym owners don’t want to have to clean up extra mess. Especially when you have people such as those described in this article.
Metolius Eco Ball
This is basically a coloured chalk ball. It is more expensive than generic chalk, but if you want to get away with using chalk without being caught in those mainstream gyms, then this is the stuff to use. Key benefits?
- Increases grip
- Reduced chalk dust present
- Less messy (No white chalk stains everywhere)
- However, may dry your hands out
(I would have mentioned liquid chalk as an alternative. However, recent tests of using the stuff has indeed been disappointing. Avoid).
#2 Buy a pumice stone
Now, I already know that you will walk away from this page, fresh advice and gym ready. And a few weeks from now, you’ll start to get some callus formation and there will be one day where it starts to go out of control. One way to prevent this is to use a pumice stone. I’ve actually used these for years, long before I even touched a weight plate. Just be warned… use it properly, otherwise you may do the opposite and wreck your skin. Don’t know what a pumice stone is? Click here.
- Nail file
- Foot file
(We all know your girlfriend has one of those ;))
#3 Hire Edward Scissor Hands
Well, not really… he’ll probably take your whole hand off, along with the calluses.
But if your calluses are really bad, just cut them away with scissors… gently! Just use basic tissue paper to wrap your hands while you lift for the next few weeks after doing so.
Other prevention methods
- Weightlifting gloves
- Weight lifters’ wrist straps
- Inner-tube rubber wrapped around the barbell (Most mainstream gyms will have this)
- Weight lifting hooks
I’ll probably be experimenting with this again soon, and put it on video towards the launch of the program, seeing as my hands are almost callus free at present. But until then, follow the above and you will indeed prevent the formation of ‘big’ calluses and avoid the screaming gym owner by not using loose powdered chalk.
Leave your thoughts in the comments.