All You Need to Know About Weight Training Gloves

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So something a lot of people want to talk about is hand protection when weight lifting – weight training gloves.

Why would you need to protect your hands while lifting? Well as you know (or will soon know!) Olympic barbells have “knurling” which is essentially roughed up areas that provide grip when lifting. This can be uncomfortable and problematic for a number of reasons.

Lets take a look at the best way to protect your hands during weight lifting sessions.

Protect Your Hands When Weight Lifting
Protect Your Hands When In The Gym

Do I Need Weight Lifting Gloves?

Grippy knurling on an Olympic barbell, combined with a heavy load, can dig into your hand or create a nip point and result in a callus (a thick bit of skin) forming. Now a callus itself isn’t a problem (a little unsightly, but no health issues), they can become a pest if they get too big and rip however!

Callus Due to Not Wearing Weight Training Gloves
Callus Due to Not Wearing Hand Protection

This ripping can then make it really uncomfortable to train in the immediate sessions following injury. Plus it’s a pretty lame excuse to miss a session due to a bit of broken skin…

Weight lifting gloves can provide respite for this particular injury – the fabric of the glove eliminates the chances of catching pinch points.

Some Bad Stuff About Lifting With Gloves

Lets get these out of the way first…

Obviously the glove removes the contact with the barbell – thus saving your skin. The negative side of this is that the total level of grip is now compromised. For example you are relying on fabric, spread over the hand to grip instead of the hand itself.

This is only really an issue as the weight increases to pretty heavy levels – in the short term it won’t be a problem.

Also note that the amount of stress the hand was under to build callus’ and get sore is now on the glove – gloves therefore do wear out and get tatty over time.

They are sacrificing themselves for your hands!

As you get more and more into training you should wean yourself off of gloves and get used to the barbell in the bare hand and with chalk. This is obviously safer (less likely to slip) and is just generally more bad ass.

Gloves are cool to start with to ease the new pressures on your hands, but over time you will want to come down off them.

For now, lets assume you want a little bit of respite and are going to buy some training gloves

When Should I Wear Gloves in the Gym

Now for the good stuff!

Most activities in the gym won’t even make you think about gloves. For example if we were to look at the Stronglifts/Starting Strength workouts (which are part of the Peckmeout 3 phase workout program, remember!):

Stronglifts vs Starting Strength Routine Format
Stronglifts vs Starting Strength Routine Format

Running through the exercises the only ones that are likely stressing your hands out are the deadlift and possibly power cleans and bent over rows.

The other exercises (bench press et al) are all either pushing movements or focus the load on other body parts (e.g. the back for squats). I found that it is the pulling motion (such as rowing, lifting etc.) that creates the issue with hands. For me anyway!!

If you have added any bodyweight pulls such as pull-ups or chin-ups these will likely be tearing your hands up – chins are the one exercise that REALLY puts pressure on my grip for some reason (maybe I’m too fat!)

Bearing in mind the negatives I highlighted earlier, I would therefore suggest wearing weight lifting gloves when:

  • Performing deadlifts
  • Doing bent over rows
  • When doing pull-ups/chin-ups
Some Damage... Would You Rather Your Hand Got This?!
Some Damage… Would You Rather Your Hand Got This?!

The rest of the time they are an unnecessary extra layer between you and the bar. Although it doesn’t hurt to wear them I guess (I sure did when I first started!)

What Makes a Good Glove?

Generally there are a few features that you can keep an eye out for when shopping:

  • Abrasion resistant palm material – the area before the fingers is under huge strain when lifting, so this patch should be re-inforced with extra layers of fabric and very durable stitching, or be extra tough anyway.
  • Ventilation – you want your hand to be able to breath otherwise they will soon stink.
  • Fitment options – you need to make sure the gloves come in a size appropriate for your hands! Most reputable manufacturers will give different size options based on middle finger length – get your ruler out!
  • Additional wrap-around wrist support – this is pants! Do not buy gloves with this! Otherwise your wrist will not be strong enough to bench/overhead press properly without them. This is the kind of feature that gives gloves a bad name amongst strength trainees.
  • Thickness – I (and you will too) prefer a thinner glove to make the barbell feel more natural. Big padding with huge rubber areas (think of Everlast style freebies) numbs your senses from training and the rubber perishes super quick anyway as it’s just stuck on top of normal fabric!

These are the core features I look for when picking out gear – I also want them to look fairly discrete, I don’t fancy bright pink ones!!

The Best Weight Training Gloves

So what gloves do I recommend?

Harbinger do a series of options aimed specifically at those training for strength… That will be us then 🙂

The advantage of the Harbinger gloves is that they are made out of real leather – this adds to the durability which vastly out-does traditional synthetic gloves which flake away pretty quickly.

Harbinger Training Gear
Harbinger Training Gear

They call the technology “SpiderGrip” which is basically real leather, but tarted up a bit to make it grippier, which is what we want. The use of leather allows a pretty neat “second skin” style where the entire hand area is one continual flow of material with no double thickness patches or stitching. This keeps the feel of the barbell in palm a lot more natural and really is a nice touch.

The back of their glove is breathable to make sure you don’t end up with a sweaty hand which wraps up a pretty sweet package overall.

Check out the Harbinger now:


Weight training gloves often split opinion – many damn them for ruining the feel of the lift. In reality, when starting out or just ramping up strength the toll on the hands can be really tough to take initially. Weight training gloves give you the opportunity to alleviate some of the stress when progressing rapidly. You can wean yourself off them when progress slows down if you want.

The Harbinger option gives you a great second skin feel, which is my recommendation. Once your progress beyond these, we will learn about chalk…. Save that for another day! 🙂


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