Why I Don't Wear Workout Gloves

When I was in high school I got a pair of gloves to wear for lifting weights.

At the time I thought the gloves looked cool and since I had just gotten into working out, I wanted to have all the gear. I was probably concerned about preventing callouses too, but like most teenagers, looking cool trumped that.

Funny thing is, I wound up getting callouses anyway! Turns out there was still friction between my hands and the gloves when I would hold a heavy barbell or grasp a pull-up bar. Once I realized this, they started to look less cool to me.

Less is More

I’m a minimalist in most aspects of my life and this is a great example of that. For the same reasons I enjoy running with minimal footwear, I find working out barehanded to be a superior technique. If you’ve ever had to use a cell phone in the winter while wearing gloves you already know that having a glove in between your hand and whatever you are gripping acts as a barrier. Your coordination suffers and it’s harder to get a sense of what you are doing.

Get a Grip
Once you start going barehanded, you’ll likely see an improvement in your grip strength and your body awareness. I want to feel as connected as possible to what I am doing with my body and gloves just get in the way of that.

One exception is if you are going to be moving on your hands in an urban setting where there may be broken glass or other tiny, sharp objects on the ground. When that is the case, gloves can be a safety precaution. A callous, on the other hand, never hurt anyone.

Yes, you’re going to get callouses if you do lots of pull-ups or lift heavy weights – get over it. Nobody but you cares if you have callouses (even you ladies). Learn to see your callouses as a badge of honor – you earned them!

15 thoughts on “Why I Don't Wear Workout Gloves

  • By walla -

    dude, your hands look like hell… awwwwesome! – love your work, keep it coming!

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Lol – thanks!

  • By ilana -

    When I first started lifting with my swim team, everyone had gloves, and since everyone had 'em, I got some too. They must have fallen out of fashion at some point in high school, but needless to say, I generally view them as pretty darn nerdy now.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Sounds like we had a similar experience, Ilana. I actually consider myself somewhat of a nerd, but you won't see me wearing lifting gloves.

  • By Aaron -

    Good stuff. I used to wear gloves and a lifting belt and straps and all of the paraphernalia that all bodybuilders had to have. I must of looked like a real tool! Silly high school kids think they know it all. Now, well, I have nothing but the motivation to workout and I use a minimalistic approach which has gotten me in the best shape of my life at 36 years old.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Thanks, Aaron. Sometimes people need to figure things out for themselves, though. The journey is part of the destination.

  • By Armen -

    my favorite posts are the rants and raves…but that shouldn't come as a surprise to you!

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    They're usually my favorites as well. More rants coming next week. 🙂

  • By Sam Stevens -

    I've crushed my entire left wrist playing football, and I naturally have weaker wrists. I use a pair of gloves that support my wrists to keep me from injuring them like I have previously (preacher curl is HELL without support at higher weights). Also, I know people who have bad backs that use a weight belt to support their back. I even use one when I'm maxing out to keep from injuring myself. In my opinion, looking a bit like a dork is worth not slipping a disk or blowing out your back. A belt comes off, but a slipped disk will put you out of the game for a very long time.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Hey Sam – thanks for sharing your story. The decision to wear gloves during a workout is a personal one and there are a lot of factors to consider. You have my blessing to wear them if they are helpful for you. I can't help wonder though, if preacher curls hurt your wrists so much, why not just leave them out of your routine?

  • By Michelvandenhoek -

    I figured my hand and forearms musculature is the weakest link in doing chinups and deadlifts. Do you think I should do additional grip exercises or would that just overtrain me?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      It’s unlikely that you’re going to overtrain your grip.  If that’s you’re weak link, then give it the extra attention it needs.

    • By Robby Taylor -

      if you are concerned with your grip strength, simply hang a small towel over the pull up bar and hang from the towel rather than the bar. granted this will not give you superhuman grip strength, it is definitely a step up from grabbing on to the bar, and you will not have to spend more time doing other, grip-oriented training as this will give you ample grip strength unless, again, you are specifically trying to get a super strong grip. a little perk here is that the pull up will be a little more difficult too. since one hand is higher than the other, i’d suggest focus the pull with the higher hand, bringing your chin above that hand, and think of the other hand as assisting. then just switch hand position every set.

  • By Robby Taylor -

    Al, there are a few older guys at my work who wear those weightlifting belts pretty much all the time. I work at a distribution center for the USPS, so as you can imagine there’s a fair amount of physical activity that goes on. Nothing too strenuous, compared to high level exercise, but I can see how moving massive amounts of mail for 8 hours a day can get to you, especially if you do not incorporate safe lifting and such into your movement patterns, after so many decades. The typical piece of equipment weighs 200 pounds empty. Granted it’s on wheels and designed to be easy to pull, more often than not it’s full of mail. I know, biomechanically, that I am efficiently moving these pieces of equipment, and they aren’t. They get in front of it to one side and pull with one arm, which puts serious torque on the spine, especially in the lower back. I want to tell these guys that the weight belt is just hindering them, reinforcing their bad habits and, in the long run, increasing their risk for injury. But, I’ve tried it before, and I know they’ll either think I don’t know what I’m talking about (since I’m only 24), or go on about how they have had a serious injury and that they “need” the belt. When, really, all they need is a simple series of exercises (akin to the Trifecta), and/or proper lifting and moving techniques. Sometimes you just can’t teach an old dog new tricks, it seems.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Old dogs can learn new tricks – they just have to be willing to learn!

Comments are closed.