Chalk It UP!
Safety, Performance, and Protection Make Chalking Up an Easy Choice
Consumer’s Guide to Weightlifting Chalk
Chalk, Chalk Balls, and Liquid Chalk? What is the best choice for you and, for that matter, why do you need chalk in the first place? In the weight room, chalk is used to absorb moisture to ensure a sturdy grip on barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and exercise machines. Although weightlifting gloves have their purpose, serious weightlifters do not use them on exercises such as snatches and cleans because the gloves adversely affect proprioception (body awareness), which is especially important to perform these lifts safely.
Powered chalk is made of magnesium carbonate, an inorganic salt. It has many uses in industry, such as being used to help fireproof materials. In its high purity form chalk is used as an antacid -- in fact, in the 70s, lifters would often purchase chalk bricks from their local drug stores.
When used in a brick form, lifters would rub chalk on their hands before heavy lifts and even work it into the knurling on equipment. Lifters have to be careful about using too much chalk on exercise equipment as it can compromise the knurling, making it smooth and more difficult to secure your grip. In weightlifting competitions, often loaders will use a wire brush to remove excess chalk on the bar. Also, using too much chalk on the hands can compromise your grip as the chalk particles move across your hands.
Many major commercial gyms do not allow the use of chalk because it creates a mess. In the 80s at one hardcore gym in San Jose California where many Olympians in track and field train, athletes complained that janitors would often vacuum out the chalk stands in their gyms after hours! Better solutions would be to use a chalk ball or liquid chalk.
A chalk ball is ground up chalk that has been placed in a soft, porous mesh ball. This design prevents excess chalk from spilling and the amount of chalk dust. High purity chalk is not considered dangerous (again, it is used as an antacid), inhaling a large amount of chalk dust may be harmful. Although it is more economical to purchase blocks of chalk, consider that much of the chalk is wasted as it is applied – in other words, a chalk ball will last a lot longer than most people would guess.
Another solution is liquid gym chalk, such as Hand Armor Liquid Chalk. The product comes in bottles and goes on wet and dries quickly, and is designed to prevent blisters and tears. Hand Armor Liquid Chalk not only lasts longer than regular chalk, but contains an antibacterial agent that fights staph, MRSA (a bacterium that is resistant to most antibiotics), ringworm, and H1N1 (a strain of swine flu). Why is this a concern? Well, consider that in one extensive study on gym equipment (www.fitrated.com), it was found that free weights such as barbells and dumbbells contained 362 times more bacteria than a public toilet seat!
Infographic courtesy of www.fitrated.com
Whether your goal is physical fitness or athletic performing, chalk is an essential training tool. And now with the addition of chalk balls and Hand Armor Liquid Chalk, it’s become even better!