As a former climber, I know all about the amazing gripping benefits of chalking. I can still remember a time back in high school, climbing with the dynamic teaching-climbing duo from my school at a local spot and even though I was attached to ropes, I felt like it was just the very tips of my fingers holding me on that rock. My stomach was in my feet that day, but it was also the first day I chalked while climbing. I still am happy that I made the decision to chalk-up on that day (I’m sure my lunch that day was too).
My fellow gym rats chalk. Others in my gym, moreso when I started going almost 11 years ago than now, chalk. I was of the stubborn mindset of when doing heavier lifts, I needed to rely on my natural gripping abilities. Which I was successful at until I hit the neighborhood of 26. Then sweaty palms started happening. Not badly at first, just occasionally and more often in the summer than any other time of the year. Gotta love those Maine humid, sticky, icky, muggy summers.
Fast forwarding to about two years ago… My deadlifts were creeping their way back up well over the 180-pound mark and when I’d hit 200-pounds or over, I was only getting one, maybe two reps in before the bar was slamming down, my hands too slippery to really grip it good. So I bought a pair of sexy Harbinger hot pink lifting straps. They helped me shatter some more personal records, but it still wasn’t good enough.
Then I had the brain storm to start working on doing those fancy schmancy muscle up things. I hadn’t done pull-ups or chin-ups in who knows how long at this point, so I knew that I needed to get my butt back at the bar to start doing them again. Three weeks ago I hopped up there, started pumping out some chin-ups and then had to stop before I fell and smashed my face in. Because, sweaty palms.
I hadn’t climbed in forever, so my chalk supply had gone off and died somewhere (most likely it got tossed in one of my moves in my early 20s). As a climber, I used powdered chalk. Now, as a lifter, I had options. Did I want to do classic chalk? Or did I want to give liquid chalk a go?
They both accomplish the same thing, but liquid chalk sure as hell makes less of a mess. Since I’m impatient as hell when I’ve set my mind on a goal, I ended up having to buy classic block chalk. But, fortunately one of my fellow gym pals gave me a small bottle of liquid chalk to try.
While yes, I do like the convenience of the liquid chalk, I find myself grabbing my container of smashed up block chalk more to do my heavy lifts and pull/chin-ups. I’m a hard gripper, as is proof when you look at the palms of my hands. I blame it on years of monkey bars and those sliding ring things that we called Zippers back in the day (I could zip back and forth on those things one handed like nobody’s business). I find with the liquid chalk, I’m rubbing it off in those important grip spots with each set. With old fashioned chalk, unlike liquid chalk, at least in my experience, I can just smack my hands together, give them a little rub and it’s like I’ve reapplied. So for now, it’s me and block chalk being besties in the gym.
But damn, if I’d only jumped the chalk wagon sooner, who knows where my personal records would be. Maybe high enough to make even the heaviest lifters in my gym cry… If only…