Not Everyone Likes It Rough: Callus Care and Prevention

By: Chris Huber

Callused hands are a common fear of many getting into lifting. The thought of rough, unsightly paws isn’t exactly appealing. The good news is that is a fairly easy problem to manage. If you are a rookie lifter, your hands most likely do need a little toughening up, but you don’t need to end up with with crusted mitts of an old sailor.

Gloves

This is my least favorite solution. I have no issue with others wearing gloves if they so choose, but I feel that other options are better if you wear them to to prevent roughed up palms. My main gripe is that they make gripping things harder. The extra material between you and the bar is just more to deal with. If gloves work well for you, then more power to ya. Just make sure to air dry those bad boys so you don’t stink up the place.

Proper Bar Placement

I believe this is the biggest offender when it comes to torn up hands. The left two images show the bar being gripped from the palm, which leads to skin being folded over when you perform a pulling motion. The right three images have the bar set into the crook where your fingers meet your palm. This placement is much more ideal and should prevent any pinching and tearing of the skin.

Grip Strength

Along with having the bar correctly placed in your hand, this is the other big factor to prevent damage to your hands. If you don’t have the strength to keep the bar from slipping or rolling when you lift, you need to take steps to work on your grip strength. If your gym allows chalk then buy a bar and use it (Tip: Even if powdered chalk is not allowed, your gym may be ok with liquid chalk).

To improve strength, on any pulling movement make sure you squeeze the bar. You should feel the strain in your forearms in addition to what your lift usually targets. If you want to focus on grip specifically, you may consider incorporating Plate Pinches into your routine. A strong grip will mean never having to worry about the bar getting away from you.

Caring for you Hands

So you do your best, but you still end up with a rough patch on your hands? Well then it’s time for some preventative care (yes, even you fellas). Women tend to be much better about this, but regularly using lotion will keep your hands softer and less prone to cracking/splitting when lifting. Your significant other will probably appreciate this step as well.

If you have a thicker callus you will need to thin it out. I personally own a PedEgg© on the rare occasions a callus builds up, but any kind of pumice or sandpaper material can be used to clean up rough patches. Be careful when doing this, going too thin may lead to tearing next time you lift, so be conservative when it comes to shaving down calluses. Taking the time to do some preventative maintenance can save you having to sit out of the gym with a hole in your hand.

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