Oddly enough, most people don't want their hands to look and feel like the surface of the moon.
Concern about calluses is something I run into quite regularly.
My clients see my hands and are like, “Ok I get that I need to lift heavy stuff so my shoulders look better in my favorite backless dress, but dude, I don’t want my hands to look like THAT! Your hands look awful.”
Ok maybe they aren’t quite such a-holes about it; my clients usually aren't so callous.
Since 9 out of 10 out of my clients ask me how to prevent having the hands of an industrial revolution era seamstress, it seemed fitting to write on the topic.
The answer isn't lifting gloves. It's sponges.
All you need to do is put the sponge in between your hand and the bar and you're good to go.
Why not lifting gloves?
Reason number one: Sponges cost $1.
If you lose your spongy phalange protectors of justice because you spaced out after crushing your workout, NBD. Just shell out another dollar for another sponge.
Reason number two: Sponges build strength faster.
While some lifts like deadlifts or farmer walks rely heavily on grip strength, even non “grippy” lifts are influenced by your grip.
Try this out:
- Get into a pushup position (whatever variation you can max out at 10 solid reps)
- Do 3 pushups as you normally would and note the difficulty of those reps.
- After resting for a few seconds, do a few more pushups. This time though, spread your fingers wide and squeeze the floor as hard as you can. Drive your fingertips into the ground like you want to take out a chunk of linoleum.
Did you notice the difference? What you just experienced is called irradiation. Irradiation means the muscles around an activated muscle will also activate. This creates a ton of total body tension you can use to lift heavier weights.
Gripping the floor helps stabilize the shoulders and triceps. This makes the pushup easier your muscles are firing harder. More tension, more power, more ease. We can apply this same principle to any lift.
Back to lifting gloves.
Lifting gloves mess with irradiation. They stifle your connection to the weight because of the excess cloth and such. They always get all bunched up too which is just annoying. I used lifting gloves extensively in college and I honestly could never quite find a sturdy grip.
The sponges don’t have this side effect. They simply give a softer surface to grab without compromising the grip, irradiation and consequently, your progress.
Granted, if you choose to wear gloves it won't be the end of the world and we can still be friends. It’s not like you can’t get strong wearing gloves. Sponges are just a more effective option in terms of cost and function.
Now, I know you’re reading this thinking Ermahgerd Jeff you’re so smart! Let’s be BFF’s forever!
Alas, I totally stole this idea from Jon Goodman of the Personal Trainer Development Center.
Creativity is dead, much like the skin that comprises my calluses.