For CrossFit addicts, the most telling sign of their addiction is the shredded palms that come from endless bar work. Is it cool? If you bleed for your passion then, sure, it's probably cool if real blood is involved.
Is a shredded hand some sort of sign that you are on the right path in your training? Definitely not. And let's be fair, you can shred our hands in other rock climbing, rowing, or doing gymnastics.
I'd like to think there is on simple rule to abide by when it comes to scraping your skin off with metal: if it hinders your training then it's bad, and if it happens during competition then it might be inevitable but you still want to keep yourself functioning at maximum capacity so, it might be best to mitigate blood loss through your palms.
The 5 Best Ways to Keep Your Grip Firm but Smooth
The first step to smoother hands in training is smoother hands in training. Ideally, your hands would be baby bottom smooth and no one would think any less of you for it.
If you can keep your skin smooth and silky then you can give yourself a better playing surface to avoid those nasty catches on the gymnastics' bars or the knurl on barbells, even the imperfections in cast iron kettlebells, that can pick up your skin and peel it back. So, here are some ways to help those of hands of yours stay workout young.
Grip Right – No matter what level you are at, you want to think about your grip. How you grip can exacerbate the tugging on your palm skin. Think about how you actually grip the bar.
Are you grabbing it way down in the palm of your hand? Or are you grabbing it more around the base of your fingers? Think about how rock climbers use their fingers more than their hands. Think about the fact you are pulling on something, not pushing.
The bar should not be all the way into the bottom of your palm, it will only cause more folds of skin to bunch up and you are more likely to rip. And, you ar ebound to get callouses and cuts from learning the ropes but only in so far as learning whether you are being effective in your getting your grip right. So, think of the cuts and callouses as warnings, as well.
Workout Gloves – You can get workout gloves, you know those things without fingers that are probably frowned upon by the cool kids in your gym. Here's the thing, no one should be frowned upon for wearing workout gloves, and there are plenty of manufacturers willing to tout CrossFit-appropriate gloves, but it's probably impractical.
First, weightlifting is as much about the touch as it is the grip when you hold on to the bar. Gloves can be thick, they can constrictive, and you need to curl your hand around the bar and position the bar correctly, and hold those fingers together just the right way.
So, you might protect your hand, and we have no recommendation on a glove to help you out in that regard, but they might also end up adversely effecting your training and technique.
Gymnastics Hand Protectors – Hand protectors, on the other hand, are cool. Sure, back in the early days of CrossFit, you didn't see them much, and even competition you went to had a first aid tent full of torn and tattered hands being attended to do with antiseptics and tape.
But not now. People wised up and got serious about hand protectors. Gymnasts have been training with grips them and using them for a long time and they know a thing or two about them.
A post shared by Victory Grips (@victorygrips)
For CrossFit, companies like Victory Grips and Bear KompleX specialize in products for the community, and seem to get consistently good reviews.
They're pricey but probably a better investment than an expensive, wicking training tee that you are going to throw in a corner of your industrial warehouse gym about five minutes into your workout. If you really want to train hard at CrossFit, or compete, you should invest in hand grips. It's a no-brainer.
Chalk – Chalk is a double-edged sword. Small amounts keep your hands dry and help your grip. This means you are less likely to hold the bar too tight, which is a good thing as far as callus prevention.
On the other hand, chronic over-chalkers may actually be creating more friction by having so much chalk on their hands. Be frugal with the chalk and use a towel to dry your hands between sets.
On the other hand, you can go expensive with liquid chalk, we have reviewed Spider Chalk on this pages in the past. It's not for everyone, but some athletes swear by the sticky film that builds up over your palm. Or, just opt for plain old weightlifting chalk and create those chalk dust clouds for cheap.
Hand Grooming – There's no shame in moisturizing and protecting your hands. More imporantly, you need to get into the habit of shaving down your callouses and smoothing out the rough skin that builds up from lifting, bar, ring, and rope work.
It's okay to be nice to your hands. Wodwelder is a nice little online store in that regard. It has lotions, callous shaves, pumice stones, and salves that are targeted at CrossFitters.
It's worth remembering that unless you're a full-time CrossFit athlete, you probably have a day job, and you will meet people, and there will come a time when you shake someone hands or have to show your palms in a business setting, maybe when you do close up magic to close that big deal you've been working on, and when that happens, no one wants to look at your hands and have to think, did they just break out of prison by digging their own tunnel?
Blood, Guts, and Glory Workouts
If we just look at things through the prism of CrossFit, the Open and Games season are when you might be facing the greatest likelihood of shredded skin across your palms.
Fortunately, as written here above, there are things you can do to protect yourself. But if you are training for the Open and Games the other nine months of the year, you want to be able to perform optimally and the only that should be certain is callouses, not bleeding.
The headline asks the question, are ripped hands still cool in CrossFit, and the answer is: no, it is not cool to rip your hands. You need to take care of the things that hinder your performance and damage your abiity to do the real work.
It doesn't matter if it is CrossFit or rowing or rock climbing. Injuries are possible but they are not inevitable, although at the highest levels the chances are that they are more likely than not so, real athletes know that they have to keep themselves protected.