Kettlebell enthusiast Nigel Holloway explains how to use liquid chalk to improve your gripping power when you're lifting weights.
Chalk has long been used by bodybuilders, climbers and athletes to increase their gripping power. It's not necessarily the most user-friendly substance to store and use however, to say nothing of the potential mess.
So what's all this Liquid Chalk
about then? Well essentially it is what it says on the tin. It usually comes in a small handy bottle that you simply use in the same way you would, say, an anti-bacterial hand wash; simply squeeze some out and rub it into your hands. The difference is that you only want to coat the front of your hands as that is what you will be gripping with.
Liquid Chalk is designed to coat your hands so that you can grip more and suffer from friction less, as well as protecting your hands from being slippery when sweating. As you can imagine; in a gym or fitness environment this can have great benefits.
It also has the advantages over traditional chalk of not leaving white stains or dust everywhere, (which is the main reason a lot of gyms don't allow chalk to be used), and can last longer on the hands so you don't need to reapply it as much. When you're done at the end of the session simply wash it off with some warm water and soap and you're as good as new.
Liquid chalk isn't suitable for every discipline
In my own training we do use Liquid Chalk occasionally. A large part of what I do involves kettlebells and other functional fitness tools, so it is not always suitable for some of these exercises.
The kettlebell snatch, for example; this is a move where you want the kettlebell to be able to freely move within your palm, and as such Liquid Chalk is wholly unsuitable for this. As you want a primarily loose grip for the snatch it's the worst thing you can do!
Other kettlebells exercises it can be a great help with however. High-pulls, swings, upright rows, etc., are all perfect examples of where using Liquid Chalk can be beneficial, especially when training heavier weights or higher volume.
How to use liquid chalk
When you need that extra grip to get you through the last few reps; when your arms are burning molten fire and you need to push out the final couple before your grip totally fails and your hands feel like they're about to completely crumble – this is when the Liquid Chalk can be invaluable.
We also use it when doing more traditional weight training. Classic exercises like the bench press can certainly benefit from Liquid Chalk, but for me personally it really shows its worth when deadlifting.
Ahh, the deadlift - favourite of the weight lifting world. So many benefits from just one lift. Like a lot of people; when you start going heavier and heavier with the deadlift it is always the grip that goes first. We use an Olympic barbell for deadlifts where I train, which is an excellent piece of kit but it's not kind on the hands.
I have some weight lifting gloves which I started using with the deadlift when I started going heavier – these certainly helped things but I still found my grip failing long before anything else.
Obviously the key thing here needs to be increasing my grip strength, but the simple fact is that while that is going on I want to be able to deadlift as much as possible without my grip letting me down. Enter the Liquid Chalk.
I would heartily recommend people to use it with exercises like deadlifts as it does help the grip and stops you having to worry about sweat ruining things for you as well. I was pleasantly surprised when I first used it as it did allow me to grip the bar and keep a firm hold of it for just that bit longer and firmer than without.
Any exercise or lift where gripping something tightly is a key component of executing the correct technique can find benefit from the use of Liquid Chalk. What will you use it with?