What Is Lifting Chalk and Why Does It Matter?

By
Caleb Ulffers
July 28, 2022
Lifting Chalk

Many of us have experienced the frustration of losing our grip during a heavy lift or workout. You start getting into a groove during a lifting session, and then suddenly, you feel your grip start to fail. This often occurs due to the moisture build-up on the palms of our hands during a workout. 

As frustrating as this can be, there are ways to prevent this. Lifting chalk is known to help strengthen and maintain your grip through a workout. Below we will discuss what lifting chalk is, what it is made of, and when it can be used. We will also look into the different chalk choices available to athletes. 

 

What Is Lifting Chalk? 

Lifting chalk is used by gymnasts, rock climbers, bodybuilders, weightlifters, CrossFitters, and other athletes who do strength training and powerlifting. It is used to improve grip strength by absorbing moisture on the palms of your hands and fingers. 

Lifting chalk is referred to by different names such as gym chalk, climbing chalk, weightlifting chalk, liquid chalk, and gymnastics chalk. The majority of these chalks are the same and are used to get the same effect. By using lifting chalk, you lessen the moisture on your hands, which in turn allows you to have a more secure hand grip and the ability to lift heavier or perform more reps safely.

 

What Is Lifting Chalk Made Of? 

Unlike regular chalk, gym chalk is made from magnesium carbonate. There are two basic forms of chalk: liquid chalk and powdered chalk. The difference between the two is the amount of mess and the functionality.

 

Powdered Chalk 

Powdered chalk is simple to understand. Think of a chalk block that has been ground up into a fine loose chalk powder. Chalk powder is cheap and effective in helping with better grip and dry hands. It is often found in CrossFit gyms or other specialty gyms that are open air or have good air ventilation. 

If you ask, many athletes who train in powerlifting prefer chalk powder because it is long-lasting and helps create a stronger grip. 

One of the biggest downfalls when it comes to chalk powder is the mess it leaves behind. Many gyms have steered away from using powdered chalk because it has been found to cause respiratory issues when used in close quarters or in a gym setting with little to no air ventilation. 

However, in many specialized gyms, like CrossFit gyms, you may see chalk bags strategically placed around the gym for the athletes to use before performing a lift or exercise. 

 

Liquid Chalk 

Liquid chalk is magnesium carbonate chalk mixed with a form of alcohol. It is used by rubbing the liquid in your hands to form the same dry and chalked surface as powdered chalk. 

When using liquid chalk, it is essential to pay attention to the brand you are using. Liquid chalk from a reputable brand can be just as effective as chalk powder by eliminating perspiration and aiding in grip strength. However, the biggest drawback that many heavier lifters or CrossFit athletes experience is the constant need to reapply the liquid chalk. 

Although it requires more reapplications than chalk powder, liquid chalk provides a no-mess factor and is still found to be very effective. One thing to consider is how easy liquid chalk can be transported in your organized gym bag with little to no mess. 

 

What Does Chalk Do for Lifting? 

As discussed above, chalk provides many benefits when it comes to lifting. Gym chalk will absorb your sweat, giving you the maximum grip strength needed to push or pull that heavy weight. 

When lifting heavier weights and completing complex movements such as deadlifts, pull-ups, dynamic exercises with the kettlebell, or other Olympic lifts with a barbell, it is beneficial to use gym chalk. This will not only enhance your grip strength but will also help prevent any injury that could be caused by losing your grip while lifting heavier weights. 

Another added benefit to using gym chalk is the prevention of skin tears. Think about the calluses and blisters we build up from doing pull-ups, deadlifts, toes-to-bar, or other pushing/pulling movements. By using gym chalk, you lessen the chances of your hands slipping from the bar while performing your movement, which is usually when skin tears and blisters occur. 

 

Which Chalk Is Best for Lifting? 

When it comes to deciding which gym chalk is best for you, you must evaluate your workout routine, gym environment, and need for chalk. As you can see, both liquid chalk and powdered chalk provide many benefits. 

Below we will look into a few specific chalk brands/styles, and you can decide from there which is a better fit for you. 

  • Z Athletic: This is a popular brand amongst gymnasts and CrossFit athletes as they offer a chalk ball that is longer lasting and less messy than loose or block chalk. 

A chalk ball is easy to use as you just squeeze the ball to coat your hands. The chalk ball is also space-friendly and easy to store inside your gym bag.

  • Spider Chalk: This is a company that offers multiple forms of gym chalk. You can purchase liquid chalk, powdered chalk, refillable chalk balls, gym chalk blocks, chalk bags, and other chalk essentials to make your workout much more enjoyable. 
  • SPRI: These chalk blocks are popular amongst gymnasts and rock climbers. This product is price-friendly as it comes in bulk packs and will last you a long time. 
  • Primo Chalk:  This companyoffers chemical-free chalk that comes in many different forms ranging from chalk bags to chalk blocks.
  • Liquid Grip: This is a versatile liquid chalk that benefits all types of athletes, including rock climbers, strongman competitors, kettlebell sports competitors, and even golfers. Liquid grip is pricey, but a little bit goes a long way. 

In Summary 

If you heavily sweat during your workouts and you find your sweaty palms are interfering with your grip strength, then gym chalk is something you should consider purchasing. 

Do your research and ask around, as there are many options so that you choose the best chalk grip that works for you.

Go ahead and throw your new gym chalk into your gym bag so that it is with you whenever you need it.

 

Sources: 

When to Use Chalk at the Gym | Men's Health

Effect of Magnesium Carbonate Use on Repeated Open-Handed and Pinch Grip Weight-Assisted Pull-Ups | PMC

Blisters: First Aid | Mayo Clinic

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