For CrossFit addicts, the most revealing sign of their addiction is the crushed palm trees that come from endless bar work. Is that cool? If you’re bleeding from your passion, it’s probably cool when it comes to real blood. Is a tattered hand a sign that you are on the right track in your workout? Definitely not. And let’s be fair, you can tear our hands apart while climbing, rowing, or doing gymnastics.
I would love to believe that there is one simple rule to follow when scraping your skin with metal: if it interferes with your workout, it’s bad, and if it happens during competition, it may be inevitable, but you want it to keep operating at maximum capacity anyway, so it may be best to reduce the amount of blood lost through your palms.
The 5 best ways to keep your grip tight but smooth
The first step in smoothing your hands during exercise is with smoother hands during exercise. Ideally, your hands would be smooth and no one would think less of you for it.
If you can keep your skin smooth and silky, you can give yourself a better playing surface to avoid the awkward catches on the exercise bars or the knurls on the dumbbells, even the imperfections in cast iron kettlebells that can pick up your skin and peel it back . Here are some ways you can help your hands exercise young.
Grip right – No matter what level you are at, you want to think about your grip. As you grip, the dragging on your palm can make it worse. Think about how you will actually grip the bar.
Do you grab it at the very bottom of the palm of your hand? Or do you pack it more around the base of your fingers? Think about how climbers use their fingers more than their hands. Think about the fact that you are pulling, not pushing, on something.
The bar shouldn’t come all the way to the bottom of your palm. This only results in more folds of skin clumping together and you are more likely to tear. And you are required to get callouses and cuts from learning the ropes, but only to the extent that you learn whether you are effective at getting your grip right. Also, think of the cuts and callouses as warnings.
Training gloves – You can get workout gloves, you know the fingerless things that are likely to be frowned upon by the cool kids in your gym. Here’s the thing, no one should be frowned upon wearing exercise gloves, and there are plenty of manufacturers willing to promote CrossFit-grade gloves, but it’s likely impractical.
First, weightlifting is just as much about the touch as it is the grip of holding on to the bar. Gloves can be thick, they can tighten, and you need to wrap your hand around the bar, position the bar correctly, and keep those fingers together just right.
So you could protect your hand, and we don’t have a recommendation for a glove that could help you in this regard, but they could also adversely affect your training and technique.
Gym hand protection – Handguards, on the other hand, are cool. Sure, you didn’t see them much in the early days of CrossFit, and even with the competition, you had a first aid tent full of torn and shredded hands dealing with antiseptics and duct tape.
But not now. The people were wise and were serious about hand guards. Gymnasts have been training and using grips for a long time and they know a thing or two about them.
A post from Victory Grips (@victorygrips)
For CrossFit, companies like Victory Grips and Bear KompleX specialize in products for the community and seem to get consistently good reviews.
They’re expensive, but probably a better investment than an expensive, moisture-wicking workout t-shirt that you will toss in the corner of your industrial warehouse gym about five minutes after your workout. If you want to train really hard at CrossFit or compete, invest in handholds. It’s a no-brainer.
chalk – Chalk is a double-edged sword. Small amounts will keep your hands dry and help your grip. This means you are less likely to be holding the bar too tight, which is a good thing for callus prevention.
Chronic chalk, on the flip side, can actually cause more friction when you’ve got that much chalk on your hands. Be sparing with the chalk and towel dry your hands between sets.
On the other hand, liquid chalk can get expensive. We have reviewed Spider Chalk on these sites in the past. It’s not for everyone, but some athletes swear by the sticky film that builds up over the palm of your hand. Or just go for simple old weightlifting chalk and create these chalk dust clouds for little money.
Hand care – There’s no shame in moisturizing and protecting your hands. More importantly, you need to get into the habit of shaving your callouses and smoothing out the rough skin that forms from lifting, bar, ring, and rope work.
It’s okay to be nice to your hands. Wodwelder is a nice little online shop in this regard. It contains lotions, callus shaves, pumice stones, and ointments that target CrossFitters.
Remember that unless you are a full-time CrossFit athlete, you are likely to have a day job and meet people. There will come a time when you have to shake hands with someone or show your palms in a business setting. Maybe when you close magic to close the big thing you were working on and when that happens nobody wants to look at your hands and think you just escaped from prison by digging your own tunnel?
Workouts for blood, guts, and fame
If we just look at things through the prism of CrossFit, the Open and Games season is when you may have the greatest chance of having skin shredded all over your palms.
Fortunately, as noted above, there are things you can do to protect yourself. However, if you are training for the Open and Games during the other nine months of the year, you want to be able to perform at their best and the only thing that should be certain is calluses that don’t bleed.
The headline asks whether torn hands are still cool in CrossFit, and the answer is no, it’s not cool to tear your hands apart. You need to take care of the things that affect your performance and your ability to do the real work.
It doesn’t matter if it’s CrossFit, rowing, or climbing. Injuries are possible but not inevitable, although at the highest levels, the likelihood is that they are most likely to occur. Real athletes know they need to protect themselves.