Gym chalk is one of the things that separates rookies from pros. You’ll likely never see a beginner cover their hands in chalk before hitting deadlifts. On the other hand, experienced lifters will use every tool at their disposal to get the best bang for their buck — including magnesium carbonate, also known as gym chalk.
Contrary to what many people think, gym chalk is not the same as the chalk used in school. The latter are sticks made of calcium sulfate or calcium carbonate. Although similar, they are not the same. So, drop the idea of smuggling them from your class (if you still use them) to your gym — it won’t work.
Magnesium carbonate can be used for gymnastics, rock climbing, weight training, or pole dancing — you do you. Applying chalk to your hands improves your grip by absorbing moisture, which can help improve your performance. And let’s be honest, using gym chalk makes you look badass. Apply a generous amount of chalk on your hands, perform a deadlift, slam the bar on the floor, and clap your hands in celebration. You now are the most charismatic lifter in your local gym.
Read on to learn everything there is to learn about magnesium carbonate, including its benefits, disadvantages, forms, and how to use it correctly.
Gym Chalk Forms
Gym chalk comes in two different forms — dry and liquid. You can choose from the two depending on your preferences and convenience.
1. Dry Chalk
Dry chalk is the OG gym chalk and has been in use since at least the 1950s. You can get dry chalk in two forms:
Powder chalk is generally sold in pouches or containers. If you get this type of chalk, ensure the pouch or container is tightly sealed after every use to ensure it doesn’t spill in your gym bag.
How To Use Powder Gym Chalk:
- Take a generous amount of chalk powder in one hand and place it in the center of the palm of your other hand.
- Rub your hands to ensure the chalk has spread evenly on both hands, including your fingers.
- Start lifting.
This form of chalk is available in blocks. It is relatively easy to carry than the powdered form as the risk of spilling is minimal, and it comes in convenient small packaging.
How To Use Brick Gym Chalk:
- Grab the chalk brick in your left hand.
- Open your right hand.
- Rub the chalk brick on your right hand thoroughly, including between your fingers.
- Repeat on your left hand.
Dry chalk can cause a dust cloud and mess up the gym floor, which is why many gyms have banned chalk use. If you train at a gym that doesn’t allow dry chalk, you have no choice but to switch to liquid chalk.
2. Liquid Chalk
While dry chalk does what it promises, it can create a mess, which is why many athletes prefer liquid chalk over solid chalk form. Liquid chalk comes in squeeze bottles, which makes it more convenient.
How To Use Liquid Gym Chalk:
- Shake the chalk bottle well.
- Squirt a small amount of liquid chalk into one hand.
- Rub hands together.
- Let the chalk dry for 30 seconds.
- Start lifting.
Some liquid chalks contain additives that might irritate your skin. If you have sensitive skin, you should stick to dry chalk.
Benefits of Using Gym Chalk
Gym chalk is one of the most underutilized training tools. Adding it to your training regimen helps:
1. Improve Grip
Weight lifters arguably realized the benefit of magnesium carbonate when they saw gymnasts use it on their hands and feet to improve their grip on parallel bars, gymnastic rings, beams, and pommel horses.
The fact that rock climbers use magnesium carbonate should be enough to prove the effectiveness of this tool. They trust chalk with their life and depend on it for a solid grip.
Gym chalk boosts your grip by keeping your hands dry and improving friction between your hands and the bar. Irrespective of popular beliefs, it doesn’t act like glue.
2. Lift for Longer and Heavier
A better grip due to the gym chalk can help you lift heavier weights for longer. Whether this is a good thing or not is for you to decide, but it can surely help aid in better muscle fiber engagement and stimulation.
3. Protects Your Hands
Many lifters use chalk to dumb down the barbell or dumbbell knurling, which can cause hand blisters. While gym chalk might not eliminate hand blisters, it can help reduce their occurrence.
Furthermore, many liquid gym chalks contain essential oils that help soften your hands. Some chalks even include alcohol, which has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Hence, although more pricey than solid gym chalks, liquid gym chalks can help improve gym hygiene.
4. Reduce Risk of Injury
High-quality gym chalk utilizes magnesium carbonate — a solid, inorganic mineral uniquely insoluble in water. Gym chalk doesn’t dissolve as you sweat. Instead, moisture is quickly absorbed, your grip is maintained, and the risk of slipping is reduced.
5. Great For People with Sweaty Palms
Some people have sweaty hands, which can be a problem while lifting weights. The moisture can make the bar slide out of your hands. However, applying chalk can help improve the friction between your hands and the bar by keeping your hands dry.
6. A Must-Have For Those Who Train in Hot and Humid Conditions
People who train in hot and humid conditions or in gyms that do not have air conditioning should never step inside the weight room without a gym chalk in their bag.
7. Psyche You Up
There are days when you don’t feel like training and just hit the gym for the sake of it. However, here is a neat trick. The next time you are having a dull day, apply a generous amount of chalk on your hands and clap your hands as hard as you can. There is something about dry chalk clouds that gets you in the mood to destroy the weights.
Athletes apply it on their legs (directly or on clothing) while deadlifting to minimize the risk of the barbell chafing their legs. Powerlifters also apply the chalk across their shoulders where they rack the barbell for better grip. Furthermore, using chalk on your shoulders for the front rack position keeps the barbell from sliding down while squatting.
Finally, magnesium carbonate is a versatile training tool that can be used for multiple sports, including rock climbing, weightlifting, resistance training, CrossFit, gymnastics, and pole dancing. So, whether you are a professional athlete or a hobbyist who likes to engage in multiple sports over a weekend, chalk deserves a place in your bag.
Disadvantages of Using Gym Chalk
While gym chalk has many advantages, it has a few drawbacks too, including:
1. Makes a Mess
While you might love dry chalk clouds and barbells covered with chalk, your gym owner and trainers probably have a different opinion on magnesium carbonate.
Furthermore, dry chalk dust can hamper air quality in your gym, which might not be appreciated by other lifters working out near you.
Pro Tip: Getting chalk off your gym floor can be hard. However, adding a cup of vinegar to the water will make the process easier.
2. Can Spoil Your Training Equipment
Although gym chalk can help improve your grip strength and reduce the risk of injury, it might spoil your gym equipment. Make sure you brush down the gym equipment after using it with gym chalk to avoid rusting.
3. Adds One More Tool To Your Arsenal
If you are a serious lifter, chances are you already have a ball full of lifting tools, including a weightlifting belt, lifting straps, wrist wraps, lifting gloves, knee wraps, and elbow sleeves. Adding a new item to your inventory and keeping stock of it might add to your workload.
4. You Have No Idea What To Do With Your Hands During Your Workout
You’ll hardly ever hear people talk about this gym chalk problem. After applying chalk to your hands while weight training, anything you touch will turn white. If you are too particular about your clothes, you’ll have to be careful not to get the chalk all over you. Also, forget about using your phone during your training session. Is this a blessing in disguise? Maybe.
5. Some People Take It Too Far
Gym chalk is best used for compound barbell lifts like the deadlift, bench press, clean and press, overhead press, etc. However, some people overdo it by applying it to machine handles. Although chalk will help improve your grip on machines, you shouldn’t slap it on every handle you come across in the gym.
Which is The Best Gym Chalk?
It depends on the sport, your preferences, and your convenience. While rock climbers usually prefer dry chalk that can be stored in their chalk pouch, gym goers can choose between dry and liquid gym chalk based on their preferences.
Best Liquid Gym Chalk
Per the brand, Spider Chalk is formulated by top chemists and uses laboratory-grade magnesium carbonate and two bonding agents. Unlike most gym chalks, this product will stay on your hands for up to 60 minutes.
Spider Chalk Coupon
Spider Chalk Coupon
Liquid chalks are notorious for coming off after every set. However, the non-toxic bonding agents in Spider Chalk allow it to stay on your hands for up to an hour.
Best Solid Gym Chalk
Rogue Gym Chalk is our pick for the best solid magnesium carbonate. Each box of this chalk includes eight 2oz blocks, enough to last for months of daily use.
Rogue Gym Chalk Coupon
Rogue Gym Chalk Coupon
Rogue is known for its high-quality products, and its gym chalk is no different. It is a performance chalk that consistently absorbs moisture without dissolving or caking on contact.
Alternatives for Gym Chalk
Here are a couple of alternatives for people who are not fans of gym chalk or who train at a facility that does not allow the use of magnesium carbonate:
Lifting gloves can be a great option for folks who primarily use gym chalk to avoid hand chafing. However, they might not be for you if you are into weightlifting or powerlifting.
Lifting straps are an incredibly effective tool for people with weak grip strength. Using lifting straps bypasses your grip strength and allows you to lift heavier weights that you wouldn’t normally be able to hold onto for the duration of the set. However, lifting straps cannot be used for compound exercises like the snatch, clean and jerk, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between chalk found in classrooms and gym chalk?
Chalk used in classrooms (calcium sulfate) is not sticky and won’t stay on your hands. Plus, it does not absorb moisture from your hands, meaning it cannot keep them dry.
Is gym chalk allowed in all gyms?
No. Every gym doesn’t allow gym chalk as it can cause a mess and inconvenience to other clients. However, some gyms that don’t allow solid gym chalk might permit liquid chalk, so you should check with the front desk.
Does every gym-goer need gym chalk?
No. However, if you are a weightlifter, powerlifter, or CrossFitter, using gym chalk can significantly improve your performance. Even bodybuilders who incorporate several compound barbell movements in their workouts can benefit from gym chalk.
Gym chalk can improve your grip and boost your overall physical performance. It is a must-have for serious trainers. We recommend the Rogue Gym Chalk if you are in the market for a high-quality, dependable product.
A parting note — although gym chalks are a great tool to take your training to the next level, you should use them mindfully. After completing an exercise, wipe down the equipment and ensure there are no chalk marks or stains left for the next user.