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Let’s Talk About Chalk

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How to use Chalk!!!

We get it chalk is fun.  My kids play with chalk every time It’s sunny outside

But there seems to be confusion about how and what the chalk is really for…

Did you know that chalk actually increases friction between your hands and the bar? Friction leads to torn hands.  <<— This rule works for any object (Barbell, Kettlebell, etc.) not just a pull-up rig.  And if you are chalking up for something like a handstand push-up please go sit in the corner immediately.

But to get to the point I am not going to write a extremely long post about this. Nope.  Instead I will refer to a 2009 Blog Post from CrossFit South Brooklyn:

Why re-invent the wheel. I’m going to throw it back to a 2009 CFSB post on chalk use:

Let’s have a talk on chalk. A few of us are dangerously addicted to chalk. Our addiction is manifested through handprints. We see white outlines on your workout clothing and on the rears of those you smack. Our gym floor has perfect white handprints when going from bar work (pull-up or barbell) to pushups or burpees. At least you know exactly where you left your workout station. We see chalk addiction in “its snowing inside the gym” pics. How about the chalk ring around the chalk bucket? My favorite is watching an athlete hit the chalk bucket, donning precious thick white gloves, leaving a trail half way across the gym and then clapping all the chalk off right before hitting the bar. What a mess! What a waste! Why use all that chalk in the first place? This adds more cleaning for your trainers and more expensive chalk purchases. We also have the athlete that subconsciously re-chalks every time their hands leave the bar. Clock is running and you are losing the race at the chalk bucket! Then there is the worst symptom: hands that are ripped to shreds. Your virgin hand rip is cool. Its like being indoctrinated into the CrossFit Club. After the first one, the rest can and should be avoided. Hand rips can be nasty and they hurt like hell! Worst of all they prevent you from doing the majority of the WODs until they heal. Hand rips will happen occasionally, but do your best to prevent them. Part of that prevention is callous maintenance and correct chalk

Naturally occurring chalk is made of calcium carbonate. The stuff we use, gymnastics/climbing chalk, is usually made of magnesium carbonate. We use chalk to absorb the moisture (sweat) or oil on your hands that prevents you from getting a good grip on the pullup bar, barbell, dumbbell or kettle bell. Chalk gives you a better grip, which means it increases friction. Too much chalk will increase friction between your hand and the bar to the point of a nasty tear.

When you chalk up for a workout take care to stick to the following:
1. Use chalk only when you can’t hang on to the bar anymore.
2. Put a very light dusting on your hands. This should barely be visible. No chalk baths.
3. Heavy sweaters, (you know who you are) consider bringing a towel to dry off your hands before chalking. Again, light dusting after towel off.
4. Leave the chalk in the chalk bucket. There should be chalk only two places ever: in the chalk bucket and on your hands. Don’t chalk up the bars, the floor or the air we breathe. Breathing chalk during a workout sucks!
5. Remember Rips famous quote: “if you insist on wearing gloves, make sure they match your purse!” This goes for chalk gloves too.

In the sweaty mess that we become in the midst of our workouts, it’s natural to want to reach for some chalk to give us a little more grip (and rest). However, there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to gym chalk.

So to recap the next time you look like Farva from Super Troopers you’re using too much chalk and you should reread this post…


Coach Nick
Team Elevate

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