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I just purchased a pull up bar and a set of dumbbells. From what I've read there are people who wear gloves at the gym and some don't.

What are the effects and reasons of wearing gloves? Are there any effects besides mitigation of callus growth I might be missing?

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If you wear gloves, you will always have problems with callouses; if you don't, eventually you'll skin will harden and you won't have any trouble. Hence, I recommend you not to wear any. –  VPeric Dec 9 '12 at 12:44

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Callouses form when your skin is pinched between gravity and the bar. If you learn to grab the bar in such a way that your skin is no longer pinched, you will prevent the formation of callouses. Additionally, using chalk helps improve your grip while also preventing callouses because the bar doesn't move as easily in your hands (as opposed to when they are sweaty). Gloves don't prevent pinched skin, and they cause your hands to sweat--making the likelihood of callouses worse.

Gloves exist for the same reason as pads or manta ray attachments for the bar do on squats. To make things easier and less intimidating to the recreational exerciser. Unfortunately these products introduce their own problems as well.

There are those that argue that since gloves make it harder to grip the bar you should use them for grip strength. I would argue that there are far more effective ways of training your grip, such as using Fat Bar grips (makes the bar 2" in diameter), or doing your deadlifts with an Axel Bar (the whole bar is 2"). Sometimes the simple method of holding the bar at the top of the movement for a few seconds is all you need.

Grabbing the bar correctly:

  • Locate the "pad" of your hand. That's the part where your fingers attach to your hand, and where callouses are most likely to form.
  • If you are pulling (pull ups, deadlifts, rows, etc.): place the pad of your hand on the bar and wrap your grip around the bar. The skin should be compressed, but when weight is applied, it doesn't pinch the skin.
  • If you are pressing: place the bar closer to the palm of the hand. This prevents the bar pinching the pad of your hand in the opposite direction.

In short, just think about how gravity is going to pull the weight whether it's you, a dumbbell, a barbell, or a kettlebell. Grab the bar in a way that when the force of the weight is applied, the pad of your hand does not move much.

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As far as I know, the only purpose for gloves is prevention of callus, as you said, and protection from skin lesion. The reason that a lot of people (me included) do not like gloves could be that they're sweating more within the gloves, or find it uncomfortable for some other reason.

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Gloves also essentially make the bar larger, making grip marginally more difficult. –  Doc Faustus Dec 9 '12 at 20:14

The use of gloves while working out can help with a number of things as well as hinder others. Personally I used to use gloves in my intense weight training sessions and found them to hinder the growth of calluses but did however, improve my grip strength drastically (I used very thick gloves). Due to having to grip harder on certain exercises, such as pull ups and deads etc. But once I removed them i had tremendous difficulty with calluses forming and hindering my performance (temporarily).

It's all down to personal preference really, dependent on your overall aims and goals:

strength: incorporate thick gloves and in turn, grip strength and other strength will increase.

calluses: personally I preferred to have them form while I worked out so, that when not using gloves to increase grip strength, I dint tear my hands up on Olympic bars etc.

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Why not just wrap something around the bar instead of wearing gloves (like a towel)? That's the usual method I hear about for improving gripping strength. –  VPeric Dec 10 '12 at 11:16
    
all down to personal preference, I just wanted to use gloves. –  Sam Street Dec 10 '12 at 11:30

I personally dislike using gloves because as others stated they make your hands sweat. Secondly I would like to always feel the bar when I am performing harder exercises than chin-ups and pull-ups. Thirdly wearing gloves always seemed to be conflicting the whole workout idea. You go to the gym in order to work hard so that you can reap results later from your efforts. There's no easy way around. Calluses are part of the whole process, there are exercises on the bar where even gloves are not going to help you.

I have seen lean people using straps for a single set of 8 pull-ups. Do you need straps to pull yourself up? No. The less you get used to assisting yourself using gloves and/or straps(I can understand straps for deadlifts) the better. Because what are you going to do if you forget your gloves and you are already in the gym, are you going to miss a workout?

In my eyes gloves spoil the mind, just an accessory of the fitness industry that helps its manufacturers earn money.

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Well it isn't the fitness industries fault, I bought my gloves for cycling and prefer to wear them while jogging, too. But I get what you mean. –  Baarn Jan 6 '13 at 12:43

I've been working out with gloves since I started lifting 5 years ago. Still have the same pair too. I'm callous free and have soft hands which I like. My deadlift 1rm is 495 and front squat is 315x3. Some people just don't want to have rough, nasty hands.

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Thanks for the answer, but please mind your language when posting on StackExchange sites. –  Baarn Aug 20 '13 at 17:55

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