Chalk - is it cheating?

Discussion in 'Kettlebell' started by Harry Westgate, May 28, 2017.

  1. Jared_G_85

    Jared_G_85 Triple-Digit Post Count

    After doing 1 arm swings with the 48 kg bell yesterday at my house, I have highly considered buying liquid chalk so it doesn't make a mess or I don't destroy my TV with the bell flying out of my hand. While I don't have any grip issues or didn't have any issues yesterday swinging The Beast I could certainly see where if you were going to try and achieve Sinister (or Simple) and get the swings done in under 5 minutes chalk would be helpful.

    If you are worried chalk is cheating then don't use it and go about your business. Or if you are worried you aren't getting the necessary grip work then don't chalk up during your training sessions and save it for the timed / test days. Go about achieving your goals in a way that will make you feel proud about what you have accomplished.
    Glen and Harry Westgate like this.
  2. Jared_G_85

    Jared_G_85 Triple-Digit Post Count

    Feel like I needed to add this after reading a few more posts.

    If we are talking about straps and belts for kettlebell swings then someone would be missing the point and never need to mention they have heard of StrongFirst or Pavel!!!
    Harry Westgate likes this.
  3. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    Generally my grip is not a weak point for me but occasionally it is. Last week I went for some 1H swings with 32kg and found I didn't have the finger strength needed to hang onto the bell for a good powerful swing. Dropped to 28kg and that was fine; it felt like the 32kg did when I was swinging it regularly. Even with just a 4kg difference between "had it" and "didn't have it", I don't think chalk would have made a difference there.

    For me it's about getting the right feel for the best technique. For swings, it helps me do what I was suggesting to @Robert Noftz in his swing videos -- hook the bell handle in my fingers rather than gooseneck the wrist and palm the handle. For cleans and snatches it helps with the grip transition. The hand has to let go and re-grip quickly, and chalk helps with that movement.

    I can't really say a clear pattern of when I use it and when I don't. That's why to me it's more related to things like whether I used hand lotion earlier in the day, or whether I have any rough callouses or they are well-tended and smooth. The humidity and temperature can be factors as well. All of these interact with the particular texture of the bell handle for a unique combination that day for that movement. I just know when it feels right...
    WxHerk likes this.
  4. michael wille

    michael wille Double-Digit Post Count Elite Certified Instructor

    I live in Florida where the humidity reaches absurd levels. I don't have large hands. I have sweaty hands. I use chalk. It is almost a necessity for safety reasons. I like how Anna put it, as part of the interaction with the equipment.

    Rather than comparing chalk to using a belt in deadlifting, how about we use the comparison of the knurling on the bar. Is it cheating to have knurling? Should we use bars without knurling to train our grip appropriately? I use chalk deadlifting as well. I don't think that is cheating.

    I hope this post doesn't come off adversarial, that is not my intention. I just think context plays a roll in the use of chalk. Climate matters and individual difference matters.
  5. Doug Drinen

    Doug Drinen Double-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    This thread has turned out to be more interesting than I would have guessed :)
  6. Harry Westgate

    Harry Westgate More than 500 posts

    You're welcome! ;)

    This! If there was knurling on the handle of my 32kg KB I seriously doubt I'd be thinking about chalk.
  7. michael wille

    michael wille Double-Digit Post Count Elite Certified Instructor

    Well you probably wouldn't want a bell with knurling in the first place
  8. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    I used to use chalk on some of my epoxy coated kettlebells but didn't much like having to do so - one more thing to fuss with.

    Then I chipped off all the epoxy, exposing a nice sand-casted finish. A little texture or rust goes a log way toward improving traction, but I don't see any issues with chalk, wraps, even a belt. I know, belts don't help one's back much any more than tall hiking boots prevent ankle sprain, but I have seen some GS folk who wear them below the hip - presumably to help prevent hernia.

    Depending on one's physical condition/limitations there might even be a role for lifting straps.
  9. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    There are a number of reasons I don't like chalk (mess, dries the skin, more likely to get a blister or tear if snatch technique breaks down), and I do a lot of lifting during breaks in my office where I can't use it. But I do use it at home whenever I feel it is necessary (or just helpful) and don't think of it as cheating at all.

    One thing I like about A+A style training is that I don't get as sweaty (and I naturally sweat easily and heavily). When I was doing VWC or going more strictly by a clock with tighter work/rest ratios, managing sweat became a big and annoying part of training. Nowadays, it's much less of a factor.

    By the way, when not using chalk, I find that wiping my hands and the bell handle with a microfiber shop towel before a set helps to alleviate any slipperiness from normal skin oil or humidity in the air. It's not really sufficient when I'm really sweating, but for lazier training where I'm not sweating heavily I find it very useful.
    runninggirevik, Glen and Anna C like this.
  10. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    Next thread: "Microfiber towel - is it cheating?"

  11. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

  12. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    Oh.... if it was ever in an infomercial, it's definitely cheating! Haha
    WxHerk and rickyw like this.
  13. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    At the risk of sounding like a humorless twit, I somehow feel compelled to point out that I find the regular terrycloth microfiber shop towels (I bought a gazillion pack at Costco) work much better for cleaning off my hands and the bell handle before a set. I've actually tried Shamwow style towels for this and they don't work as well.
    Last edited: May 31, 2017
    damogari, WxHerk and Anna C like this.
  14. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    Everything makes it into an infomercial sooner or later...right down to the 5 lb kettlebells.

    Phil12 likes this.
  15. ShawnM

    ShawnM More than 2500 posts

    I tore my hand open yesterday doing swings in a ton of humidity. Palms got real sweaty and off with the callouses. I guess from now on, as far as my own training goes, chalk isn't cheating.
  16. Sean M

    Sean M Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    This thread inspired me to try it, so I'm a couple of training session in to using chalk for the first time. (Working 32kg one-arm swings OTM)

    What a difference! My posterior chain is sore again. I realize now that my hip drive was compromised by slippery grip at the apex of the backswing. It's like Velcro now and much more powerful.

    I got one of those chalk balls and just put a light coating before swings and again before getups. For the latter, the weight feels more stable overhead which is always good.
    fnds, Dan_123, MarkSch and 5 others like this.
  17. rickyw

    rickyw More than 500 posts

  18. MikeMoran

    MikeMoran Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    My hands sweat a lot so I pretty much have to use chalk. Just enough to keep the grip but sometimes in the AZ summer even early morning outside I have to chalk up big time especially for snatches. YMMV.
    Harry Westgate likes this.
  19. ShawnM

    ShawnM More than 2500 posts

    @rickyw- Yeah, I noticed that a few weeks ago. Funny thing, I'm stationed with a guy that has the same first, middle and last name as me but spells his name Sean and mines Shawn. Not the same guy though, he insists cross fit is the most amazing thing on earth but can't make command PT due to his never ending string of injuries. He did take the time last week to inform me that swings are done with two hands and go over head, so there's that. Lol.
    Dan_123, TravisS, damogari and 4 others like this.
  20. Sean M

    Sean M Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    When people ask me how I spell my name, I say "The right way" :p

Share This Page