Chalk - is it cheating?

Harry Westgate

Level 6 Valued Member
Hello all,

Just curious if using a little chalk would be considered 'cheating' when doing swings?

I've always avoided it since I thought it would be cheating a little, but my issue is that while I'm comfortable swinging the 32kg one handed for 10x10, the weather here in England is getting much warmer and so sweaty palms are becoming more of an issue, to the point where holding onto the 32kg on a hot morning can be not only difficult, but virtually impossible for a full set of 10. Wiping my hands on a hand towel alleviates the problem slightly but still... Of all things to slow my progress, this seems like a stupid thing to let get the better of me; I literally wouldn't dare to test my time standard with the 32kg at the moment because I'd be too scared of the big, smooth handle flying out of my hand the moment my body temperature starts to increase.

The more I think about it, it just reminds me of when I used to do bouldering and chalk was a must - without chalk awkward holds weren't difficult, they were impossible.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.




Level 8 Valued Member
No, chalk is not cheating. Hot, sweaty hands become easy to tear the callouses from. Chalk helps keep your hands dry. I see what your getting at and do understand, however, your training is your training. If you feel you get an un-natural advantage from chalk, don't use chalk. Every KB Sport contest video I've seen shows people using chalk. If it's ok for them it's ok for me.


Level 6 Valued Member
Hi Harry,

I've been having the exact same problem with sweaty palms. If you fancy giving your grip an extra challenge, it can be good to go chalkless, however if you're training indoors and the constant threat of your kettlebell 'escaping' and damaging something is affecting your concentration then a little chalk will help you keep the focus on generating power in the swing without losing your bell.

ShawnM is indeed correct regarding the use of chalk in competition. If you need 'official permission', the Girevoy Sport Union permits the use of chalk in competition: Competition Rules – Girevoy Sport Union


Level 3 Valued Member
Is pouting in a photo cheating to make you look more beautiful? I say no, if it makes you look more beautiful good work! :):)

I used chalk since using the 32. My hands are in better condition and I can focus on what the other 99% of my muscles are doing other than the ones in my fingers trying to hold onto the bell.


Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
We use chalk during testing at SFG certifications regardless the weight. Not only it is approved but occassionally encouraged when humidity can disrupt our performance.

Physical Culture

Level 4 Valued Member
Cheating implies the presence of a rule. No rules for swings in your own gym. The only swing event with rules I could find is the Strength Matters swing test, and chalk is not mentioned on their page.

A good rule of thumb is that exercises don't have rules, but lifts do. If you are exercising to meet specific goals, then use whatever safe tools will get you there.

Harry Westgate

Level 6 Valued Member
@Physical Culture Your definition of cheating, while I believe was meant as reassurance, has actually brought another question to mind, though I feel I know the answer from the responses so far...

If I hit the Simple/Sinister time standards while using chalk, does it still count as having hit Simple/Sinister?

A definitive answer to this would put my mind at ease once and for all!


Level 9 Valued Member
By no way it is cheating. It is nothing but sensible, especially if you have sweaty palms.

Btw, I would highly recommend the liquid variety instead of the regular chalk. I think it's much better. It sticks better and there is no chance of messing the floor or such. Aren't you in the UK? I've bought some from MyProtein and it's great for the price.

Doug Drinen

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Count me as a vote for Stop Worrying And Buy Some Chalk.

I read somewhere a long time ago, that if your goal is (for some reason) to squat 200 pounds on a couple of bosu balls, you can get there faster by building up a bigger-than-200 squat on flat ground and then learning to use that strength on the bosu balls, than by trying to build strength on the bosus. Similarly here. If the goal (for some reason) is to achieve Chalk-Free Simple, you'll probably have faster success if you work up to Chalked-Up "Simple Plus" (i.e., a situation where you can do Simple easily with chalk, or maybe do the swings with 36s), than if you spend all your time training non-optimally because your hands are too slippery.


Level 3 Valued Member
I use a little fabric ball from go outdoors. It's filled with powder. I just rub it in alone across the top of my palm and the first part of each finger off the palm. Been using it for 4/5 months and has barely gotten smaller. £5.

Have started to rechalk about set 6 on the swings in this heat so using twice as much which is devastating! I might have to buy another packet before 2019. :)


Level 5 Valued Member
Only when you're violating some rules or a standard that says "don't use chalk" are you cheating. Otherwise, do what you want.


Level 7 Valued Member
I think chalk is cheating. Unless you have some chalk at hand while "carrying a piano upstairs" or "holding your own in a street fight".

Mark Kidd

Level 5 Valued Member
We use chalk during testing at SFG certifications regardless the weight. Not only it is approved but occassionally encouraged when humidity can disrupt our performance.
Really? I was under the impression it wasn't allowed. Which made me wonder about here as it can get quite humid here. Thanks for the info.


Level 6 Valued Member
Chalk is not cheating at all! I use boatloads of it since my palms are always sweaty. I even use it for OAPU to better grip the deck
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