Do you wear gloves when you do calisthenics? Online you will find a lot of lovers and haters for wearing gloves during training. Men’s Health conducted a poll in 2019 in which 78% of their community answered “No I don’t wear gloves when I work out”. What about the calisthenics community though? In this blog you’ll read the pro’s and cons of working out with or without gloves. Of course, we have an opinion too.
4 Facts about gloves
In the gym and calisthenics parks you have bars to hold onto. With exercises like the pull-up it is important to maintain a good grip to perform the exercise well. Unfortunately, not a lot of research is available on the subject of gloves and their influence on grip strength. There have been some studies in gyms though. These concern studies into different types of gloves, mostly in thickness. The published results are:
- Bare hands ensure more maximum power in comparison with gloves (5-31%). The thicker the gloves the more power loss you have. (gloves were 0,8 – 1,8 and 3,1 mm thick).
- Stabilizing lift grip force shows a slightly better result with thicker gloves than thin gloves or none at all.
- Sensibility of the hand (feeling the object you are trying to lift) drops a lot the thicker the gloves are.
- Grip force increases with glove thickness.
What Does this Results Mean in Calisthenics?
These studies were gym-related. So the results cannot be applied directly to calisthenics. But something is noticeable. According to several studies your maximum grip power decreases the thicker your gloves are, most likely because you lose sensibility in your hand. But gloves do offer an increase in grip force, most likely because it hurts your hand tissue less.
Should You Wear Gloves while Doing Calisthenics?
We have a list with pro’s and cons for wearing gloves or not. See below. As you can see, there is something to say for both! In the end, it all comes down to preference and experience. For example, someone who has sweaty hands and cannot progress could wear gloves to improve his grip. But someone without sweaty hands has more grip without gloves, as shown in the study mentioned before. For us as physical therapists, rough hands are not an asset. That is one reason we prefer to wear gloves. But we do believe in better overall strength and grip without gloves. Our solution is to train both with and without gloves, depending on the exercises we do. That way, you benefit from both.
Pros of wearing gloves
- No sweaty hands and grip loss
- Keeps hands softer. Important for people like massage therapists.
- Less pain when holding (heavy) bars
- Prevents callus and blisters
- Supports wrists
- Enables more reps because of reduced pressure on hands
Cons of wearing gloves
- Improved better grip and form during some exercises
- Knurling (roughing up your hands) for a better grip
- Provides a better grip in free strength training for forearm muscles and fingers
- Improves sensibility (feeling) during exercises
Examples of Calisthenics Exercises with or without Gloves
In the case of pull-ups you can wear gloves and stop tearing your hands, as long as you maintain a proper form. The benefit is that you will have no pain in your hands and no blisters forming. To prevent callus, you can also use chalk. For push-ups, we do not recommend gloves. There is no benefit. Exercises like handstands or planches benefit from bare hands because it provides better sensory in your hands to maintain balance. But gloves can help endure a longer front/back lever.
Different Types of Calisthenics Gloves
There are a lot of different types of gloves. Half-open gloves that allow your fingers to stick out are the most common. In our web shop you can find gloves/straps that cover only the palm of your hand to prevent blistering. There are also straps to hold bars, which we will discuss in an upcoming blog article.
Just remember, the thicker the gloves the more maximum strength you lose in your grip. Thin gloves of around 1mm could reduce the cons of gloves. When you check our webshop for gloves, make sure to buy gloves that fit you and give you enough grip to perform your exercises correctly.
Take Home Message
There are arguments for and against calisthenics gloves. Both has benefits. We think that personal experience and preference weigh most in your decision. Stay open minded and try before you form an opinion. Feel free to share your thoughts and experience with us!
1: Wilmms K, Wells R and Carnahan H. Glove attributes and their contribution to force decrement and increased effort in power grip. Hum Factors; 2009 51: 797.
2: Chang CH and Shih YC. The effects of glove thickness and work load on female hand performance and fatigue during a infrequent high-intensity gripping task. Appl Ergon. 2007; 38: 317-324.
3: Kinoshita H effect of gloves on prehensile forces during lifting and holding tasks. Journal ergonomics. 2010; 42; 1372-1385
4: Williams B. Should you ever wear weightlifting gloves. https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a26251844/best-weightlifting-gloves/ used on 28-9-20