- What are Calisthenics Gloves?
- Why You Need Calisthenics Gloves
- Types of Calisthenics Gloves
- What to look for in your Calisthenics Gloves
- Exercises Where Calisthenics Gloves are Useful
- The 6 Best Calisthenics Gloves
- Taking Care of Your Calisthenics Gloves
- Alternatives for Gloves
- Conclusions About the Best Calisthenics Gloves
- Frequently Asked Questions for the Best Calisthenics Gloves
Calisthenics Gloves are worn to get that final drop of performance from your exercise. They increase comfort, prevent injury and calluses and make for an overall more satisfying Calisthenics Exercise. Why then are they only worn by at best 20% of Calisthenics practitioners? This is a case for wearing Calisthenics Gloves, where we’ll go over all the advantages of the modern “Workout Grip” which sometimes but far from always takes the shape of an actual glove. Make use yet another simple, affordable but very effective tool in the toolbox of Calisthenics with the best Calisthenics Gloves. This is why and this is how.
What are Calisthenics Gloves?
Calisthenics Gloves are specially designed, lightweight and breathable gloves you can wear during your Calisthenics exercise. They provide you with more grip and provide for some cushioning while gripping on to bars, like for instance, a Pull-Up Bar. Calisthenics Gloves is a bit of a catch-all term used for multiple types of wearables for your hands, all designed with gymnastics in mind. Some Calisthenics Gloves are indeed gloves in the traditional sense, just made from materials suited to do sports. Other types of Calisthenics Gloves can hardly be recognized as gloves at all, these are typically of a very slim design that almost exclusively cover the palm of your hand and which are fasted around the wrist and three or more of your fingers. Workout Grips or Gymnast Grips are also commonly used phrases to describe this last set of wearables.
Why You Need Calisthenics Gloves
Calisthenics Gloves have lovers and haters and whether or not you should wear Calisthenics Gloves during your exercise is a highly personal matter. Men’s Health conducted a poll in 2019 in which 78% responded with not wearing gloves during their workout. What about the calisthenics community though? Are there any benefits to wearing Calisthenics Gloves during your workout and if so, what are they?
Holding on to bars is a very common activity within Calisthenics, whether in the gym or at a calisthenics parks. With exercises like the Pull-Up, it is important to maintain a good grip to perform the exercise well. Unfortunately, not a lot of broad research is available on the subject of Calisthenics gloves and their influence on grip strength.
There have been some controlled studies1 though. These concern studies into different types of gloves affecting pinch strength, their variation being mainly in thickness (0.8mm to 3.1mm) and some of which we could typify as similar to Calisthenics Gloves [sic]. Their findings are typically such:
- Bare hands exude more maximum Force [F] in localized point-pressure compared to gloved hands by 5 to 31% N (Newton meter). The thicker the gloves the less point-pressure you can exert due to the pressure being spread over a wider area.
- Grip Force is slightly more stable with thicker gloves than thin gloves or none at all, meaning the variation in pressure is less (i.e., more stable) during the lift.
- Sensibility of the hand drops exponentially, the thicker the gloves are.
- Gloved hands exude more total Force [F] over the whole contact area than bare hands. This total Force goes up the thicker the glove due to a small lever effect.
We can surmise from these findings a couple of interesting conclusions about, among other things, Calisthenics Gloves:
- You can pinch something much harder with your bare hands since the surface area of your fingers is always smaller than your gloved hands. Squeezing something very hard is done more effectively barehandedly (not considering comfort).
- You can exude more total pressure with gloves, making holding on to something for extended periods of time easier with gloved hands than with your bare hands. This means less muscle effort and less friction on your skin.
All of this really combines into 5 common sensical reasons why you need Calisthenics Gloves.
- Less strain on the muscles of your hand for the duration of your exercise.
- Preventing loss of grip due to sweaty hands, giving you again more time performing the exercise and less wiping clean your hands.
- Keeping your hands softer and preventing calluses and blisters from forming, a desirable trait nowadays in most professions and in your relationship.
- Making holding on to bars more comfortable, resulting in less distraction from holding uncomfortable surfaces or shapes like the uncovered top bar of a Pull-Up Bar.
- Supports your wrist to prevent wrist injury, possibly in combination with Wrist Wraps.
All of this, of course, leads to you doing more reps which is the ultimate goal of wearing Calisthenics Gloves. With less distraction due to discomfort and a loss of grip due to sweating, you’ll be more efficient with your time. More repetitions mean better gains.
Types of Calisthenics Gloves
We can identify, broadly speaking, 3 types of Calisthenics gloves or at least glove-like wearables which are meant for Calisthenics. There are the full-gloves which cover the entire hand and all your fingers completely. These look like working gloves, but are shaped in such a way to make them more fit for Calisthenics. They are usually also made of a lightweight, breathable material offering little protection in a working environment.
The second type are the half-gloves, which are essentially the same as the full-gloves except with their fingers removed. Last but certainly not least are Workout Grips. These are very minimalist in their design and leave most of the hand exposed. Only the palms of your hands are fitted with a layer of fabric. There are also gloves of varying types which incorporate a wrist wrap into their design. To sum up:
|Full Gloves||Half Gloves||Workout Grips|
|Best comfort and including your fingers||Best comfort but excluding your fingers||Comfort aimed at only your palms|
What to look for in your Calisthenics Gloves
When you’re out shopping for the best Calisthenics Gloves, you’ll want to take various aspects into consideration. We’ve compiled a list for you to go over. At the very least, these are the things we look for in our Calisthenics Gloves and our choice picks have never failed us yet.
Size is KING. Your gloves should fit you like a…, well, glove. Above all other considerations, including type and thickness, choose a glove that fits you well. If that means not going for the thickness you wanted or the flashy type you wanted, so be it. Like a wrong sized shoe, gloves which are either too tight or too loose can do more harm than good. Consult the manufacturers sizing chart and take measurements of your hands.
Choosing between full gloves, half gloves and Workout Grips is largely a personal one. Keep in mind all the benefits of each and some of the disadvantages as well: full gloves offer the most comfort but tend to get very warm. Workout Grips keep your hands cooler and give you that grip and comfort only in key spots. Half gloves sit somewhere in between.
The thickness of the gloves will directly impact the comfort of the exercise and the stabilization of the pressure you have to exert to hold on in a positive way. Inversely, gloves which are too thick will lessen the tactile feedback you experience and eventually (the thicker they are) will require a stronger pinch from your hands to hold on. Neither too thick nor too thin is the answer. For Calisthenics Gloves, a relatively thin design is enough. You’ll only be wearing them in the moment of that individual exercise and taking them off immediately after. The theoretically added comfort of a very thick glove will never become a reality during your exercise.
If you’re just looking for some added comfort, grip strength and preventing calluses during your Pull-Ups, Workout Grips will suffice. Full gloves and half gloves may protect the palm of your hand better since they have less of a tendency to shift than Workout Grips. This may be a good thing if you’re doing explosive Calisthenics or outdoor Calisthenics. Parkour practitioners will typically make use of full gloves or half gloves to this end.
Outside or Inside use
In an airconditioned gym, any quality glove is up to the task. But once taken outside, certain material choices become necessary. Outdoor use will expose the gloves to the elements and potentially also to substandard surface conditions, like wet pull-up bars or rough and dirty ground. If you regularly exercise outside, then temperature is also a factor. In hot climates and during the summer, a lighter and more breathable glove like a half glove or Workout Grip is desirable. In winter, something that keeps your hands warm even when gripping cold steel is a nice touch.
With or without wrist support
Some Calisthenics Gloves come with wrist supports. Wrist Wraps are then integrated into the design, giving you superior support for your wrists. Wrist support, like the gloves themselves, will always impede on your freedom of movement. This too is a trade-off. If you’re doing relatively static Calisthenics, like just Pull-Ups, then the added wrist support may be a good thing. If you want to keep your hands more mobile, then doing without wrist support is the better option.
Some gloves can be used in conjunction with Liquid Chalk. Chalk will give you even better grip and is very effective at preventing sweating and slippery hands. Not all Calisthenics Gloves are suitable for use with chalk, either liquid or powdered. If you want to use chalk, make sure your gloves or Workout Grips are suitable for it.
We haven’t found that much difference in price between quality Calisthenics Gloves and Workout Grips. Sure, you can skimp on anything and there are certainly worthless gloves for sale that aren’t even worth the little money they go for. In the “lower-end but already good price-range” all your options are very competitive when it comes to price. We’d also like to add that you should consider your Calisthenics Gloves as a consumable. They’ll wear out since they take all the pressure and friction associated with the exercise. There’s no point in buying super expensive gloves.
Exercises Where Calisthenics Gloves are Useful
When you’re doing Calisthenics, at some point you’ll be confronted by the Pull-Up. You can do Pull-Ups in many different ways and using a variety of equipment like a free-standing Pull-Up Bar or even Gymnastic Rings to great effect. Wearing Calisthenics Gloves can be a direct substitute for using Liquid Chalk during these exercises, with the added benefit of effectively preventing calluses and sore hands.
We advise against using any gloves when doing Push-Ups or anything inverted like handstands. For these exercises, maintaining maximum tactile feedback from the naked hand is essential to maintain balance and prevent wrist injury. It is really the Pull-Up where Calisthenics Gloves shine.
The 6 Best Calisthenics Gloves
We like using these Calisthenics Gloves because they are comfortable and durable. They help us get more out of our exercises. We prefer just the right type of Calisthenics Glove or Workout Grip, with enough grip and comfort but also minimal in material and impeding as little as possible on our hand movement. Many Calisthenics Programs will feature Pull-Ups in some form or another, so investing into a quality pair that don’t cost an arm and a limb will help prepare you for these challenges.
#1 GORNATION Workout Grips Leather
These GORNATION Workout Grips feature a minimalist design and are made of high-quality materials like real leather. The wrist wraps are made of thick polyester with an iron closure ring for maximum durability. The leather strap, which sits on your hand palm, is coated with a polyurethane film to increase its durability and wear-resistance. They are very light-weight and practically do not impede on your freedom of movement. At the same time, they offer just enough cushion to make doing Pull-Ups much more comfortable. You can also really feel the leather strap gripping on to even a smooth metal bar, giving you that extra grip you need to complete a set. For extra grip, these workout grips are suitable for use with liquid chalk, for maximum performance.
#2 Gravity Fitness Gymnast Grips
With an even more minimalist design than the GORNATION Workout Grips, and a high-tech look to boot, these Gravity Fitness Gymnast Grips have not failed us yet. The special fiber glass finish on the leather straps provides superior grip on even very smooth surfaces, like the polished steel bars found on many Pull-Up Bars. Especially outside in Calisthenics parks, you’ll find Pull-Up Bars with very smooth, either blued, nickel-plated or painted bars. The firm nylon and Velcro wrist band keeps the grips securely in place, but offer no further stability to your joints. This allows for maximum freedom of movement while still providing superior grip and some cushioning to your hand palms.
#3 Pull Up & Dip Gym Gloves
If you are really concerned with maximizing comfort and abolishing calluses and other discomforts, then these Pull Up & Dip Gym Gloves are the right size for you. Surrounding your hands like a second skin, but leaving the fingers free, these gloves provide you with all the grip and cushion you could want. At the same time, they are made of a very breathable material and readily let sweat evaporate from the textile. They are also very supple and pose the maximum allowable freedom of movement for a half-glove design. Pull Up & Dip makes use of high-quality microfiber and PU-leather, which makes these Calisthenics gloves durable and sturdy despite their lightweight construction. They also give you somewhat better wrist support by compressing the muscles in your hand, making them fit for weightlifting too.
#4 Pull Up & Dip Full Fingered Gym Gloves
As an alternative to the Pull Up & Dip Gym Gloves (half-gloves), is this full fingered variant. They are similar though not entirely the same. The full glove is warmer than the half glove and is covered with a less permeable outer layer. This makes the Pull Up & Dip Full Fingered Gym Gloves better suited for outdoor activities during autumn and winter. Thanks to their ribbed silicone gel pads, they provide excellent compressive grip on a variety of materials. It makes them very well suited for outdoor Calisthenics even if the weather is getting colder, but also for cycling and jogging. You get a similarly durable, high-quality design as you might expect from all Pull Up & Dip products.
#5 Fit Active Sports Lifting Gloves
These Fit Active Sports Lifting Gloves straddle the line between Workout Grips and half-gloves. They are designed with weightlifting in mind and with that, they are pretty firmly padded. Consisting of a palm cover with minimal strapping around the fingers, they keep your hands relatively mobile and cool. This is ideal to keep a solid, closing grip around bars. Integral to its design is a wide and firm Wrist Wrap which you can adjust with its Velcro strap. Rigid, heavily padded weightlifting gloves are usually not ideal for Calisthenics. But this design, leaving the backhand open, gives you options. You can wear these gloves on lifting days and on Calisthenics days. If you’re doing both and want one, solid solution for both, these Fit Active Sports gloves can save you a lot of trouble.
#6 MhIL Workout Gloves
These half-gloves are designed to give you maximum support for both your hands and your wrists. With a sizable Wrist Wrap, it keeps your joints safe and supported throughout even the toughest exercise. This makes these MhIL Workout Gloves an excellent choice for weight lifting. The thick padding provides ample amounts of comfort so that even a heavy loaded bar won’t dig into your skin. Primarily meant to provide you with comfort and safety, these gloves are still very suitable for doing static Pull-Ups in an indoor environment. The open fingers allow for enough grip and envelopment of a Pull-Up Bar with your fingers to complete these exercises comfortably.
Taking Care of Your Calisthenics Gloves
Your workout grips are fairly low maintenance, if you selected one of our best Calisthenics Gloves above. Follow the cleaning instructions that come with the gloves, and always use mild detergents when cleaning your gloves. After your exercise, you should air out your Calisthenics gloves thoroughly. Do not leave them packed at the bottom of your gym bag or they will start to grow bacteria and become smelly. Workout grips should be treated with a leather conditioner once in a while, to keep the leather supple and in good condition.
Alternatives for Gloves
You really just need a medium between you and the bar you’re holding, without actually having to wear anything? In that case, Workout Pads or sometimes called Grip Pads are an ideal solution and alternative to Calisthenics Gloves. These pads are typically laid over the Pull-Up Bar, providing a buffer between your skin and the bar itself. You’re given a bit of cushion and traction is generally improved as well.
- GORNATION Carbon Grip Pads: We like the simplicity and ruggedness of the GORNATION Carbon Grip Pads best. These are strong, provide just enough extra cushion while also improving traction. Even when things get hot and slippery, these pads will keep you hanging on without fail, until you fail of course.
- Pullup & Dip Neoprene Grip Pads: Pullup & Dip also make grip pads which we find inferior to GORNATION’s, however we like their Neoprene Grip Pads very much. These are very minimalist in design, and give you just the padding and traction you need. You wear them on your fingers through just the finger loops.
Of course, there is also that “glove” that sits on your hands, literally like a second skin. That would be chalk. If your main concern is just sweat and slippery hands, then Liquid Chalk is all you really need. The advantage of just using chalk is that you keep your hands completely free from impediment and you preserve your tactile sensation. You’re only enhancing their traction on other surfaces.
Conclusions About the Best Calisthenics Gloves
We’ve learnt that Calisthenics Gloves no longer need to be covering the entirety of your hands and all your fingers. The modern Workout Grip or Gymnast Grip, is a tool much like Liquid Chalk, with a very specific application in mind. The thinness of the material and the composition of the material ensure a more comfortable hold, increased traction for your grip and an overall more comfortable exercise. They are slim, breathable and discreet. If they help you get better results, we see absolutely no reason not to wear them. If they prevent you from stopping an otherwise perfectly reachable number of reps because your hands got too sweaty, why not wear them? As with any other tool in your Calisthenics Equipment, they have their specific purpose. Use them for what they were designed for.
For their simplicity and durability, we prefer the GORNATION Leather Workout Grip most. These are simple in design and allow for almost completely unobstructed movement of the hand and fingers. The hand is left mostly bare and breathing. At once, they give you a lot more traction on your grip. The cushioning is sufficient for a comfortable exercise while preventing calluses and sore spots.
Literature used in this article
1 Kim M. Rock, Richard P. Mikat, Carl Foster (2001). The effects of gloves on grip strength and three-point pinch. (Journal of Hand Therapy, Volume 14, Issue 4, 2001, Pages 286-290)
Frequently Asked Questions for the Best Calisthenics Gloves
Here are a few frequently asked questions regarding Calisthenics Gloves and Workout Grips.
Calisthenics Gloves, or also Workout Grips and Gymnast Grips are good gloves to wear for Calisthenics. They increase comfort and grip traction while preventing calluses. The best Calisthenics Gloves are the GORNATION Leather Workout Grips. These are minimalist in design, allowing your hands to breathe. They provide you with added grip strength and traction and provide you with just enough cushion for a more comfortable exercise.
The best glove for Pull-Ups would be workout grips. These grips are minimalist in design, keep your hand mobile while still providing you with additional grip and cushion. The GORNATION Workout Grips are among the most popular choices for doing Pull-Ups this way.
Calisthenics can be done wearing special Calisthenics Gloves. Normal gloves are not suited because they take away too much of the tactile feedback you need to do a safe, effective exercise. Calisthenics Gloves on the other hand retain a lot of hand mobility and tactile response from your grip, allowing you to do the exercise effectively and safely. They also provide more grip and some cushion.
The best gloves for Pull-Ups are slim-built, maneuverable and breathable while still retaining enhanced grip and cushioning. Workout Grips are a good example of a type of Calisthenics Glove you can wear for doing Pull-Ups.
Calisthenics Gloves, also called Workout Grips, are a good way to protect your hands during Calisthenics. Many exercises put a lot of pressure on your hands and especially Pull-Ups can be uncomfortable to do with the bare hands. By wearing Workout Grips, you increase your traction while preventing calluses on your hands.