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Physical Wellness

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Wearing Workout Gloves

Workout gloves are a surprisingly polarizing training accessory. A lot of gym goers consider gloves to be a compulsory training aid. But just as many others wouldn’t be seen dead in them, viewing gloves as an affront to their grit and hardiness.

So, what is the reality?

Here’s an objective consideration of the benefits and drawbacks of wearing workout gloves.

Weight Lifting Workout Gloves Benefits

Grip Strength

Gloves can improve your grip. Your workout will cause you to sweat, which will make your hands quite slippery. It can then be hard to get a firm grip on the barbell, especially when doing bar grip exercises such as pull-ups and deadlifts. 

Should You Wear Gloves for Training?

When you wear gloves, you can overcome the sweaty palms problem. In addition, the leather or synthetic padding on the palm will help you get a good grip, preventing both slippage and side-to-side movement. 

Greater Comfort

Gym workouts tax your muscles and your endurance. So, if there’s something that can make the experience a little less painful, why not take advantage of it? After all, the whole point of working out is to make you stronger and fitter, not to become a masochist. 

Man wearing workout gloves while practicing weight lifting exercise with professional sport coach.
Workout Gloves Will Make Your Training More Bearable (Image Source: Shutterstock)

If you’ve had the experience of gripping cold steel on a frosty morning, then you can appreciate the benefit of having your hands encased in soft leather. 

Gloves will also protect your hands from cuts and calluses. While some people may consider calluses a workout badge of honor, what they really are is a painful distraction that can derail your workout. And besides, it’s only human nature to be more motivated to do an activity that is going to cause as little pain as possible. You’re already going to have to contend with aching muscles and a pounding heart; why add to the stress with ripped up hands? Workout gloves will make your training more bearable.

Nearly all workout gloves will provide you with extra padding, but they will differ as to the location and thickness of that padding. The last thing you want is a glove that is overly padded, so much so that the effective circumference of your grip is too wide for a secure hold. Your grip should feel natural, not artificial.

Wrist Support

The level of wrist support you get from a pair of workout gloves will depend on the brand and style of glove that you purchase. Wrist pain is an occupational hazard for many gym goers. This is especially the case when your workout involves dynamic barbell moves that require pronation of the hand. This positioning forces you to pull your hand back into a potentially compromising angle. 

Workout gloves that provide extra strapping around the wrist will help to alleviate the wrist discomfort that many CrossFitters experience. 

COVID Protection

In this pandemic environment, workout gloves offer an extra layer of protection against the virus. At the same time, wearing gloves prevents the transfer of unwanted nasties that are left on barbell and dumbbell handles. If you’ve got a nick or other open wound on your hand, it is surprisingly easy for foreign bodies to get into your system when you’re gripping a bar. Gloves provide you with a barrier to prevent that from happening.

Asia men working out wearing surgical mask & latex rubber gloves.
If You’ve Got A Nick Or Other Open Wound On Your Hand, It Is Surprisingly Easy For Foreign Bodies To Get Into Your System (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Weight Lifting Workout Gloves Negatives

Grip Issues

Even though we have listed improved grip as the first benefit of wearing gloves, there are situations where wearing gloves can actually be detrimental to your grip. This can occur when you are working out with a thicker-than-normal pull-up bar during your pull-up workout. Your gloves are essentially going to thicken your grip already. When this is enhanced further by a thicker bar or Fat Gripz, your ability to maintain a secure grip can be compromised. This can be especially telling on moves such as deadlifts and pull-ups. 

As noted in the benefits section, gloves can improve your grip by making your hands less slippery. However, gloves may also potentially weaken your grip because they take some of the stress away from your forearms and wrists. Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that people who train without using gloves have a stronger grip than those who wear them. 

Limited Control

There are certain moves where gloves can actually restrict the “feel” that you need to properly execute an exercise. These include dynamic barbell moves, where you rest an Olympic bar in the palm of your hand, loaded towards your wrists. With workout gloves, it’s difficult to keep the bar sitting in your palm, as the smoothness of the gloves tends to force the bar to move onto the fingers. When this happens, the entire alignment of the exercise can be compromised. 

Becoming Dependent

We all have our pre-workout rituals. If you are a glove wearer, putting them on will be part of that ritual. But what happens on the inevitable occasion when you leave your gloves behind? Suddenly your ritual, and your mind, is mixed up. Your mindset going into the workout is critical to your success. Not having your workout gloves, when you’re used to having them, can put you off mentally, just enough that your workout is less than optimum.

Woman wearing boxing gloves posing in combat stance looking at camera.
Not Having Your Workout Gloves, When You’re Used To Having Them, Can Put You Off Mentally (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Calluses

Yes, gloves can prevent calluses caused by direct skin contact with the bar. But they may also have the opposite effect. If the material gets bunched in your palm, it can lead to pinching when you are grabbing the bar. The added friction that this creates may cause calluses to form. 

So, What’s the Verdict?

There are credible reasons for both arguments when it comes to the question of workout glove weightlifting benefits. We’ve discussed several above. At the end of the day, it comes down to what you personally prefer. The smartest idea is to purchase a pair of workout gloves and train with them for a month. Then train for a month without gloves. At the end of that 8 weeks, you will have a good idea of which option enhances your workouts the most and can decide from there.

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