Anyone who lifts weights will have to deal at one point or another with calluses and blisters, to some degree. A callus is a build-up of hard skin and they are usually caused by an uneven distribution of weight, friction, or a rough grip. Most commonly, the calluses that appear from working out, form at the base of your fingers.
They can be unattractive, tough to the touch, but the are inevitable and necessary to some degree, because the hardened skin will serve as a protective layer against blisters and tear. However, this doesn't mean that you should go ahead and roughly grip the weights with your bare hands, because that can cause very messy damage.
How To Prevent Them?
One of the factors that contribute to the formation of calluses is palm sweat. Sweat usually makes it hard for you to hold the bar, which causes you to grip the bar tighter, thus leading to a callus formation. You can prevent your palms from sweating by rubbing weight chalk on your palms before your grasp the bar.
Don't use too much chalk, because that will increase the friction between your palm and the bar. So, in between sets, make sure you wipe off the excess chalk, and thoroughly wash your hands after you're done working out.
You can use this rough stone to file down the areas of your skin that hardened as a result of weightlifting. Make sure you do this after you've taken a shower or a bath, when your skin is moist, and the hardened skin will be easier to remove. Simply file down those areas, especially at the base of your fingers once a week, for a couple of minutes. This will prevent the further forming of calluses.
Lifting gloves will give you palm protection when grasping the bar. They are effective in minimizing the formation of a callus. Not only the offer hand protection, but they prevent the bar from slipping, and they provide wrist support as well. Only make sure that your pair of gloves are the perfect fit, to ensure that you don't pinch your skin, so that the gloves will boost, not hinder your performance.
When doing exercises with a palm facing up grip, often times the skin at the base of your fingers will gather up and that will cause calluses over time. So, for pulling exercises, make sure that before you grasp the bar, you first touch it with your fingers and then slide them down, so that the bar comfortably fits into your palm.
This way it will sit at the base of your fingers without pinching your skin. So, make the contact at the base of your finger where calluses usually form, then wrap the rest of your hand around the bar, wrap your fingers around it and finally, your thumb.
For exercises like pull-ups, you need a callus-free grip for a perfect performance. Calluses will most definitely stop you from performing such exercises due to the pain resulting in the pressure added on your palms by the weight. Strengthen your grip, protect your palms from sweat slippage, friction and stabilize your wrist for a perfect movement. For this, wear a pair of workout gloves and ensure maximized results!
Soak and Moisturize
Soaking your hands is a great way to keep them soft and relaxed. Soak them in warm water for 15 to 30 minutes every day, and add Epsom salt to the water for better results. Do this daily, and weekly intervene with your pumice stone to get rid of the excess skin developed from the friction of lifting. This is how you will keep your hands callus-free, no matter how hard you train.
Always moisturize after you soak and file! And don't forget to moisturize once in the morning, and once at night. It takes just a few seconds to do so, but you will benefit from amazing results. Use a hand cream or a dab of coconut oil to moisturize your hands, just doing this will empower your hand-shake confidence.
Don't pick your calluses!
Lastly, a word of caution. There are many 'tutorials' floating around the internet on how to 'remove your calluses'. Please don't do this without seeking professional medical advice first! It could go very wrong for multiple reasons and you don't want to permanently damage your hands, right? It's incredibly tempting to pick off the hard skin that formed at the base of your fingers, but if you do so, things will get worse.
It might look like you got rid of the problem, but rest assured, it's only temporary. The skin tissue will grow back thicker and tougher. The only safe way to remove them when they are less dangerous, it's when you soak them in water and file the excess skin with your pumice stone. Other than that, never-ever attempt to remove your calluses yourself, especially when dry.
Remember, the formation of a hard layer of skin on your palms is a normal effect of lifting heavy weights. It's a natural training adaption. However, that doesn't mean you are condemned to suffer from ripped skin, bloody hands, and calluses every time you grasp a barbell.
Simply follow the tips above to prevent them from forming. Improve your grip, moisturize, and wear workout gloves! Don't let a small thing such as a callus to hold you back from achieving your great goals! As long as you follow this advice, you will enjoy the success you work so hard for without suffering the pain that calluses can cause.
Just as you add leg and back exercises to your routine, make sure you add a little something for your palms too, because they work the hardest! Take care of your hands, and you’ll see positive changes that will boost your performance in no time!