We have been getting a lot of questions about gym chalk lately. Here is a quick article with some helpful tips and our latest rules for the gym.
Why use chalk
The chalk used in our gym is made of magnesium carbonate and is the same as used by gymnasts and climbers. Primarily it does 2 things:
- Helps to absorb the moisture, i.e. sweat or oil on your hands;
- Increases friction, which in some cases helps to get a good grip on the pull-up bar, barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell.
It’s important to note that the use of chalk generates blisters much faster as a result of increased friction against the hand.
Exercising proper hand care between workouts is even more important when using chalk on a regular basis. If you find yourself frequently tearing your hands, you might be using too much chalk.
Kinds of chalk
Blocks of Chalk – pure magnesium carbonate, compressed into solid blocks. Most commonly used in gymnastics and weightlifting.
NOTE: If you are a regular monthly member, blocked chalk is included with your membership.
Powdered Chalk – simply crushed magnesium carbonate into a fine dust. Powdered chalk is often specifically formulated for rock climbing, where it’s often necessary to apply it with a single hand in an awkward position. It can be messy and easily spills out of your bag.
It should not be used in the gym. Save it for when you are hanging off cliffs.
Chalk Balls – small sacks made of a porous mesh material that is filled with powdered chalk and then sewn shut. Chalk is easily applied to hands in a thin controlled layer. This a good option for the gym if you don’t like the blocks.
If you prefer Chalk Balls, you can purchase them from us for $5.00 + GST.
Liquid Chalk – Liquid chalk is simply squirted onto your palms, spread all over your hands and fingers, and then allowed to dry. After the alcohol in the chalk dries, a dry white base layer of chalk covers your hands. Liquid chalk is easy to apply, lasts longer than regular chalk, avoids clouds of white dust, and actually works well since it minimizes the number of times you dip your fingers into your chalk bag.
We find that not everyone likes liquid chalk, we suggest trying before you purchase. Here is a good option from MEC: Link
How to use chalk
Don’t break the chalk. Lifting chalk comes in blocks and should stay that way as long as possible, this allows you to apply chalk to your hands in reasonable amounts, in the right places. If you strongly prefer loose chalk coverage on your hands – chalk ball is the best option, it will dispense a thin layer which will be more than enough even for the most sweaty scenario.
Don’t be excessive. While chalk is beneficial for your grip, applying too much creates a negative effect. Multiple layers of chalk or really thick layer on your hands can cause even more slippage, causing much weaker grip and an even higher risk of blistering. This is why during the Weightlifting competitions bars are scraped with metal brushes between attempts to remove any layers of chalk and high profile climbers carry a small brush with them to clean the holds.
If you find your hands get really sweaty during workouts, it’s much better to use a small towel to dry them before applying chalk.
Clean and wipe all bars, dumbbells, KB, rings from your chalk after each class. Use the metal brush to clean the knurling on the barbell.
How to store chalk
Normally, we would provide dedicated chalk buckets throughout the gym. At this time, due to COVID, you have to manage and bring your own.
- Option 1: Use a clear Ziploc bag, please write your name on it.
- Option 2: Popular with climbers, secure chalk bucket:https://www.mec.ca/en/search?text=chalk+Chalk+buckets&org_text=chalk+bu
Please ensure to label your chalk bag, tubes in case it’s left behind – anything left at the gym without the name would have to be thrown out.