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Training with Gloves: Yes, or No?
Q: What's your take on using gloves for lifting weights?
A: I've lifted with them, and I lift now without them. I think this really comes down to individual preference, but perhaps the following personal story will help you decide. Early in my lifting career, I thought gloves were a sign that you sort of knew what you were doing in the gym, and I so wanted to look like I knew what I was doing. The first pair of lifting gloves I ever tried was a set of old leather biking gloves that ended up being so smelly and tight (the leather shrank after all those damp-dry cycles -- remember, hands do sweat!) that I decided never again to lift in closed-hand gloves. For my second, third and fourth pair, I opted for open-fingered gloves that had velcro straps in the back. Much more breathable, and they can be machine washed when they get too sweaty and gross. When I started to row back in college, I gave up wearing gloves (since it's tough to get a good grip on the oar) and toughed it out until I developed rough calluses that wouldn't come off. When I started competing in powerlifting meets (in which gloves aren't allowed) I learned about the benefits of using chalk to get a better grip on the bar and keep hands from getting sweaty. Finally, in climbing, gloves can prevent you from getting a good feel for small indentations in the rock, unless you make your own fingerless gloves that protect the knuckles and backs of the hands (i.e. for crack climbing).
PROS TO USING GLOVES
1) They offer protection for delicate hands from build-up of rough calluses and even blisters, in some cases.
2) If your hands tend to sweat a lot, they may help you keep a better grip on the bars or dumbbells.
3) If you have any sort of scrape, wound or sore on your hands they can offer extra protection (bandaids will probably be less likely to come off).
4) When doing something like the Farmer's Walk (see middle of our article on finger training) it helps give the heels of your hands extra padding for more support and comfort.
CONS TO USING GLOVES
1) If you participate in any activity or sport where you will eventually be required NOT to use gloves (i.e. for climbing, rowing, or competitive power lifting) it's probably better to get your hands used to training without them.
2) If you happen to be someone who sweats profusely, you can destroy gloves pretty quickly unless you get the kind you can launder regularly.
3) You may feel as though you can't get as good a grip on the weights as you can with bare hands and chalk.
4) Extra expense.
5) Another thing to remember/keep track of/try not to lose or leave behind!
So as you can see, it's really up to you and your individual comfort level. If you prefer to keep your hands soft and callus-free, by all means use the gloves. If you plan to row, climb or compete, get your hands to callus-stage as quickly as possible by not wearing them.