Weightlifting Gloves, Straps, and Belts… Just for Show?

“Manly” men think they’re for “girly” men.  My brother asked me once, “do those gloves and weightlifting belt actually do something for you, or do you just have those for show?”

I smiled.  Then I explained.

When I was asked that question umpteen times back in the day, when the “fitness craze” was just hitting full stride, I answered simply that “a girlfriend in the past had said the calluses on my hands were too rough, so she bought me a pair of gloves and asked me to wear them. “  And then I explained the other benefits.

Gloves help keep calluses from forming on your hands.  They also help you grip the bar, weights, machine handles, and everything else in the gym.  Dumbbells with knurled metal will tear your hands up, so a good weightlifting glove will save them, if not prevent calluses, completely.

While I’m at it, I may as well round out this short post by mentioning weightlifting straps, as well.  Arguments against are that your grip strength won’t be as good if you use them, because your hands and forearms won’t have to work as hard.  Well, I’ve had a disc slip in my lower lumbar when trying to get situated with 120 lb dumbbells on an incline bench.  I happened to forget my straps that day, and that was the last time I attempted to handle poundage like that without straps.  All it takes is the tiniest of miscues or slips.

Plus, you can always get another rep or three if you’re using straps on a lift that really utilizes grip strength.  Hanging wide grip chinups are a good example.  Your grip can be a limiting factor if your back is strong enough and is capable of doing more reps than your hand grip will allow.  Use straps and you can focus on your back, doing as many reps as possible that your back strength and endurance allow… not grip strength and endurance.  If I’m working my back, I want my back to fail, not my hands.  Same with every other muscle group.

And then there are weight-lifting belts.  They have their place.  For powerlifters, a necessity.  For others, depending, they can help, especially if you’re injured.  If you’re otherwise healthy and uninjured, I would suggest lifting without a weight-lifting belt, unless you’re lifting massive amounts of weight.  Then use one for those super heavy lifts, but not otherwise.  Your core, your abdominals… will work a bit more without a belt.  And your form will probably be better as a result.

But that’s just my take.  Opinions vary!    Try it both ways and let me know what YOU think!


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.