Stuff You Don’t Need – Part 1: Gloves

Stuff You Don’t Need – Part 1: Gloves

gloves don't help you to lift weights

In many gyms, you’ll see people using gloves while they lift weights.

This is because constantly gripping the knurlings (the rough, grippy parts) of barbells and dumbells will quite quickly give you calluses, usually where the base of your fingers meet the palm of your hand.

People wear gloves to stop this happening.

But is there really any need to wear gloves in the gym?

Some people think that gloves are going to improve their grip. The opposite is actually true.

Gloves create extra distance between your hands and the bar. You might think this would be negligible, but it is not. What you are doing when you wear gloves is essentially making the bar thicker. Thicker bars are harder to grip. If you’ve ever tried to do pullups on a bar that is thicker than you’re used to, you’ll quickly realise that you can’t do as many as you usually can.

Eddie Hall holds the deadlift world record, lifting 500kg on a barbell. Make that barbell a few mm thicker and his number, and that of any other advanced lifter, will drop significantly.

Wearing Gloves to Protect Your Hands

The other reason people wear gloves is to protect their hands. True, gloves will prevent calluses forming, but calluses are the body’s natural protection against damage from friction. Adaptation is good! If you have calluses where you didn’t have them before it’s a sign you’re adapting to the new stresses you’re placing on your body!

Occasionally, calluses may rip open and expose raw skin underneath. This is rare, and usually only happens on a max-out set of deadlifts. In four years of lifting, this has happened to me probably 4 times. You quickly get over it. It’s a small price to pay for being strong. If you wear gloves this will never happen to you, but you’ll also probably not get strong enough for it to happen either.

All of the strongest lifters don’t wear gloves.

Advantages of gloves:

  • Don’t get calluses

Disadvantages of gloves:

  • You won’t get as strong because you are essentially making the bar more difficult to lift.
  • You will look like someone who’s afraid of harmless calluses.
  • Your hands will get very sweaty.
  • You’ll have to spend money unnecessarily.

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