Are hand grips better than weightlifting chalk or is gym chalk better than hand grips?
Instead of saying one is better than the other first let's talk about what you should know before you buy either.
Hand Grips History
Hand grips were designed for gymnasts who do big swinging movements on rings, parallel or uneven bars. They were never designed for athletes doing pullups or other simple movements. But with the explosion of CrossFit and other functional fitness movements like muscle ups and high-rep pullups, hand grips started popping up all over touting their ability to help grip and avoid ripping callouses.
We've mentioned this before but your chalk isn't even chalk. ALL 2oz chalk blocks contain a binder, fillers, stabilizer and/or drying agents. Even most of the powder chalk has filler to make the price cheaper. It's easy to lab-test chalk and horrifying to discover what's been added.
Asking what's in your chalk is like asking what's in a hotdog - you don't want to know the answer.
Many of those additives cut down on the price and look similar to chalk but have negative effects on the grip. Most athletes probably can't tell there's additives in the chalk until they feel real, pure chalk. All those chemicals added to your chalk get slimy when wet, create a barrier on your hands that decreases friction forcing you to use more chalk. Suddenly that inexpensive chalk just got a lot more expensive when you're rubbing it all over the bar, your hands, your back and the floor in desperation to get your grip back.
Hand Grip Advantages
Expensive hand-made leather grips are designed to keep the wetness off your hands and minimize rips. Most grips absorb the slimy feel created by body oils, sweat and cheap chalk. Grips also create a barrier between your moist hands and the bar increasing friction helping avoid hand rips.
However, contrary to what the grip companies preach, callouses don't rip through direct contact with the bar.
Your hands rip 3 ways: 1. holding the bar the wrong way, 2. too much moisture, and 3. too little friction. That's right, too little friction.
Correct Grip: If you hold the bar deep in the palm with a full grip, you are essentially creating folds of skin in your hands that become callouses within a few minutes. You can avoid 50% of your hand rips by simply changing your grip. Place the bar on top of where your callouses form and push down the skin instead of making skin folds. Any coach should teach proper grip to their athletes. If you grip deep in the palm, STOP!
Moisture Problem: Grips absorb moisture from your hands, no doubt. That is until they become saturated. Then you're in trouble. Unfortunately the dirty white powder you've been using creates more moisture problems thanks to the cost-cutting chalk companies ordering cheap chalk from overseas and putting "100% Pure Chalk" on the label.
Increase Friction: Ever feel your hand sliding around on the bar or rings as you workout? Less friction means more sliding. Because hand grips increase friction, your hand moves around less as you perform movements. More friction = less hand movement = less hand/callous rips.
How To Avoid Hand Rips
1. Dryer hands
2. Proper bar placement in the hand
3. More friction
Not all chalk is equal. High-quality, uncut, American-made Spider Chalk is the best way to increase friction, keep hands dry and best of all can be quickly reapplied at any point of your workout. Biggest advantage of our chalk is that it gets into the grooves of your hand coating the fingers, palm and even forearm. Spider Chalk soaks up unlimited amounts of sweat lasting your entire 30 min AMRAP or 2-hour marathon lifting session if you have a Mega Block or bag of powder nearby.
Unfortunately most athletes don't even know what real chalk feels like or it's benefits since, unless they've tried Spider Chalk, it's almost impossible to find.
Hand grips were created to overcome bad chalk. By selling really bad chalk, companies inadvertently created an entire market for hand grips. Hand grips aren't bad, they're just redundant if you use Spider Chalk. Buying low grade chalk doesn't save you money if you also order hand grips, pumice stones and hand salve to get your grip back!
Spider Chalk athletes, coaches and gyms believe true 100% pure, lab-grade magnesium carbonate is the answer. Hand grips are great, but try using real chalk before you spend money on grips!
Spider Chalk uses lab-grade magnesium carbonate, the purest chalk in the world. We manufacture sports and gym chalk in the USA for rock climbers, weight lifters, powerlifters and crossfit athletes. We also make grip products for competitive pistol shooting, pole dancing and team sports.