Chalk Talk

Friday July 6th, 2012

Dealer's Choice


Chalk Talk: Hand Rips, Grip, Overall Messiness

As a gym we made huge strides with the Tape Removal Incident (TRI) from the pullup bars. This milestone proved two things: one, more members have learned the kip or butterfly and two, our hand strength and grip strength is getting stronger as a whole. The TRI reminded me of when Facebook decides to change their layout. Everyone is pissed and hates the change for a month or two, and then people get used to it and actually like the new changes. Hopefully this has been the case with the TRI.

Cause and Effect: refers to the philosophical concept of causality, in which an action or event will produce a certain response to the action in the form of another event (Wikipedia). When the TRI went down, a chalk revolution was born. All of a sudden, there was chalk all over the bars, all over people’s hands, and all over the ground. In fact, chalk use nearly doubled after the TRI, as witnessed by the chalk inventory going bare within a month. As chalk supplies dwindled (known as the Chalk Famine or “CF”) it was not uncommon for members to start racing around the gym, mid-workout, searching for a 98% used bag of chalk even it could only illicit a pinch-worth of that white gold. The “chalk fiends” as they are called, struggled through the CF as witnessed by higher times (due to long chalk searches as previously referenced) and terrible grip. “Where the eff is the effin chalk” was a common phrase used during the chalk famine.

Luckily, we are now living in the period known as the “Chalk Boom” or “Chalk Bonanza” (CB). A perfect storm of chalk  occurred about 3 weeks ago, when all in one day, myself, Dion, and Dr. Dave all separately purchased chalk for the box. An overstock of chalk now exists, which has lead to the crux of the matter: the use of chalk at CrossFit Redondo is officially out of hand!

Chalk Rules and Suggestions:

Let me preface these rules by saying my hands have not ripped in over 2.5 years. I’ve done every pullup/kettle bell/barbell high volume WOD in the book. I’m just going off my experiences here, these rules have no formal research behind them.


1. Less is More: a light, thin coating will do. Caking chalk on  your hands may lead to the ultimate badass death grip on the bar, literally gluing you to it. But, it is a sure recipe for hand rips. Too much chalk=ripped hands. Ripped hands=less time for training.

2. Don’t Use Chalk Just to Use It: I kid you not, an unnamed individual used chalk on the 10-9-8-7.. HSPU/Pistol WOD on Monday. The point is, do not use chalk if you do not need it. Do not use chalk as an excuse to rest. Do not use chalk more than once for a set of 30 pullups

3. Never Ever, Ever Throw the Chalk Bag on the Ground: Chalk is a pain in the ass to clean up. It doesn’t vacuum and it’s somewhat resistant to mopping. Please keep chalk either on a lid or in the bucket. Doing the Lebron James baby powder move mid workout may look cool, but it leaves a mess.

 4. Use Other Means of Hand Drying: I get it, you have sweaty palm syndrome, or soft hands or hard hands or small hands or big hands so you must have chalk or you’ll never finish the WOD under the cap, right? Chalk is not the only way to dry hands during a WOD. Bring a towel and dry the sweat off before the first set. Rub your hands on your shorts or the ground (where there now seems to be a permanent layer of chalk) to dry them off.

5. Preventing Hand Rips: The first way to prevent hand rips is to minimize the use of tape and chalk. I know that much of this post is tongue-in-cheek, but I do not like to hand rips. This is why the TRI occurred. The second way to prevent ripping is to take care of your hands. Using a file or pumice stone to smooth out those calluses can go a long way. The larger the callus is, the more likely it will catch on a bar and rip open. The third way to prevent rips is to hold the properly, mainly the pullup bar. The harder you grip and the deeper you grip, the more friction you create. Try gripping the bar where the main pressure point on the hand is where the fingers meet the palm. Rips happening really low on the palm means your grip is too deep.

 When it comes down to it, some people just may be more prone to rips than others. But keep your chin up, use less chalk, take care of your hands, and for god’s sake loosen that grip on your bar!