A pair of gloves and a jug of protein were the first two things I bought when I got started with weightlifting. I didn’t know a whole lot back then other than I needed to lift heavy weights and eat more protein.
It wasn’t the most scientific approach, but it was good enough for a growing high school kid. I still keep the protein, but I have long since ditched the gloves… and I recommend you do the same.
Weightlifting gloves are a waste of money unless you’re a hand model. Yes, it will be a little painful to do pullups and deadlifts at first, but you’ll get used to it. Your body is an amazing adaptation machine. Not only do your muscles grow with weightlifting, but your hands adapt to the stress you place on them.
What I hear most often from glove users is that their hands hurt too much when they lift heavy. That’s to be expected – but it’s not something you have to deal with for long. Give it a couple of weeks and your hands will get used to it.
A side benefit of going without gloves is your hands will be a little tougher. The next time you have to move heavy furniture or handle some other big, awkward object, it’ll be a little easier because your hands won’t be killing you the whole time.
Another benefit is that your grip will improve without gloves. Gloves don’t make a HUGE difference in grip strength, but they do make a difference. Get used to lifting without gloves and you’ll have hands that can handle just that much more punishment in everyday life.
But I Seriously Can’t Do Pullups Without Gloves
A few people have told me that I just don’t understand. They tell me that pullups become simply unbearable without gloves. Other people have told me that they get massive calluses that eventually rip off and bleed.
You definitely don’t want to lift with open wounds. Gyms are nasty places and the last thing you want is an infection in your hand. If you are getting extreme pain or extreme calluses, try adjusting the way you grip bars.
For pullups, try this. Grab the bar by first placing the callus area (right under your fingers) against the bar. Then, wrap the rest of your hand and fingers around the bar. The goal here is to grip the bar so that you aren’t stretching the calluses when you pull yourself up. This should help you avoid most pain and severe calluses.
But I Sweat Too Much and Can’t Hang on to the Bar
There are a couple of things you can do about sweat. If it’s just a minor bit of sweat that’s holding you back, all you need to do is wipe your hand on shirt before you grip the bar. I know, I know that’s a little obvious but it’s worth a mention.
If that doesn’t do the trick, you can always use gym chalk. A little chalk will fix any amount of sweat on your hands.
If your gym doesn’t allow chalk AND your hands are super sweaty, then I guess gloves are the answer. Just do not become dependent on gloves. Only use them on the lifts that absolutely require gloves. Let your hands adapt as much as realistically possible.
And one last thing – callused hands are something to be proud of. You’re a working man and your body knows how to adapt to adverse conditions. You’re not some soft-bodied cubicle monkey. You’re a damned strong man who isn’t afraid of a little hard labor. The same thing also goes for you ladies out there. A couple calluses aren’t going to turn you into a hulking brute.
Bodybuilders around the world do without gloves and I bet you can too. It takes a little getting used to at first, but most people manage to adapt. Look at some of the heaviest lifters in the world and let that be your inspiration.
Just get through the first couple of painful weeks and your body will respond. Soon, you’ll have hands that can tie barbed wire fencing in knots.