Your hands, something you forget about often in the land of CrossFit unless you’ve been hanging on a bar for multiple WODs in a row. You’ve likely managed to rip, or you’re just feeling the soreness set in. Unfortunately, we’d all like to be able to ignore our paws and hope they take care of themselves, but that’s far from the case.
Don’t baby your hands, but baby them
Everyone has a different opinion in regards to gloves. Most people will tell you, just don’t, unless you’re a professional hand model, by all means. Your hands are never going to toughen up if you run to your gym bag for your gloves for every workout or strength that calls for pull-ups or a barbell. You need to find a balance. Depending on your hands, your balance might be trying not to wear anything but some chalk for your strength work. But if WOD has an AMRAP with more than 10 pull-ups or toes to bar, your balance might be to throw on some grips or gloves. On the catch side, please don’t adapt the mentality of, “I’m so tough and I’ll never need anything but chalk.” If you’re deep into CrossFit and going to do a heavy Fran one morning and then 30 muscle ups for time, you better find what works best for you. Otherwise it’s only a matter of time until you rip. Although we’ve all seen or posted a picture, a post of your ripped bloody hands is not cool.
Thoughts On Gloves
· They give you a false sense of grip strength. You are cheating yourself out of developing a true grip and improving it by wearing gloves.
· The extra fabric in the gloves for movements like T2B (Toes to bar) or pull-ups can actually increase your chance or ripping. Kipping pull ups can cause a lot of rotational movement on the bar at the base of the fingers and the palms (depending on how you grip it.) Eventually, your grip strength improves and you have less movement of your hands on the bar as you kip. This is a reason why newbies will frequently rip; the combination of soft hands and a grip that rotates around the bar a lot. Sometimes there is no avoiding a tear if there are high reps and your grip becomes fatigued.
· If you are a fan of gloves and want to wear them, make sure they fit. Excess fabric will make you more prone to ripping. Gloves over grips may be a personal preference. You may find they fit your WOD lifestyle more appropriately. To each his/her own, but remember to do some things without them to develop your grip and skin.
· Various types of grips, whether they be gymnastic or tape, seem to be the more popular go to in CrossFit. Finding a style you like tends to be a trial and error process based off your preference, hand size, and/or grip strength.
· A popular version is ones such as these (see below). These grips are from www.roguefitness.com. Personally I found that these tend to work better with guys. They have larger hands and the excess fabric made gripping the bar harder for my hands. Most are made of leather or something similar.
· These grips are geared more towards gymnastics and tapered in the middle. I have found that these work well with females. No matter which style you choose, you will need to break them in! They will likely feel stiff and a little thick at first and this goes away once you break them in. Throwing them in the wash to start the beat up process helps too.
· Another option is The Natural Grips. These are essentially a tape-like material that you secure with tape around your wrist. The size is based off your ring size and the measured length of your palm to ensure a good fit. People like this option due to customization and less bulky feeling.
· SHAVE YOUR CALLUSES. You cannot expect some miracle to happen after you do 100 pull ups a week in addition to other bar work. If you ignore them, your calluses will continue build up. The edges will catch on the bar, you will rip and not be able to work out for the rest of the week. I like to shave mine once a week when I know I won’t be at the gym for a couple days. Do not shave them right before you go to the gym. This will make them sensitive, the skin shiny, and chalk will not stick to them.
· Options for manicuring your calluses: The ped-egg, a foot file, sandpaper, clippers, and some people even use a very sharp exact-o-knife. Whatever you choose, BE CAREFUL and don’t go crazy. It is better to air on the side of caution. You don’t want to buff your calluses down to nothing and start all over. You should still be able to feel them, but you don’t want any irregular edges that stick up obviously. You eventually want them to feel smooth and deep (not smooth like the rest of your hand, smooth in the sense of a callus).
· Keep your hands moisturized when you’re not at the gym. Chalk makes them super dry and more prone to cracking. Some good products can be found at www.wodrepairlotion.com.
· Below are some products you can use to shave down your calluses and most can be found at a drug store.