If you’ve noticed some people wearing gloves in your gym while others are barehanded, you might wonder what’s best. What you may not know is that there are some strong opinions on both sides. Weight-lifting gloves can help prevent calluses, but they may interfere with your natural grip.
It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons to determine whether wearing gloves is the best choice for you. Read on to find out the potential benefits of wearing workout gloves and if you actually need to get a pair.
MEET THE EXPERT
- Caren Campbell, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist.
- Angie Seelal is a certified physicians assistant at Advanced Dermatology PC.
What Are Weight-Lifting Gloves?
Weight-lifting gloves are gloves meant to be worn while using pull-up bars, kettlebells, dumbbells, and barbells. Most people wear them to prevent calluses that are common with heavy weight lifting.
They come in a variety of styles. Some wrap around the palm and between the fingers, leaving the back of your hands bare, while others fit like regular gloves, covering the fingers or with the tops of the fingers open. They usually have a grippy surface on the palms to help reduce slipping.
Before addressing the benefits of weight-lifting gloves, it’s important to note that wearing gloves while lifting can sometimes cause poor form and injuries. Many trainers advise against using weight-lifting gloves for this reason. Gloves can cause you to grip the bar incorrectly and eliminate the connection to the bar.
However, there are benefits to wearing them—and cases where it’s best that you do. “Gloves can help prevent warts when you are working out with shared weights,” says board-certified dermatologist Caren Campbell, MD.
“If you have a cut or scrape on your skin and another weight user has a wart on their hand, you could have the virus transmitted onto your hand, resulting in a thickened area of skin (wart) that won’t self-resolve and needs to be treated at home or by a dermatologist,” added Campbell.
Gloves can also help protect the skin on your hands. “They provide a barrier between your hands and the bar, preventing you from developing calluses and blisters over time,” says Angie Seelal, a certified physicians assistant at Advanced Dermatology PC.
It’s vital to note, though, that calluses are a natural part of weight lifting, and they are your skin’s way of building a resistance to the friction from the weights. Building the calluses can protect your skin better than gloves while allowing you to maintain the proper grip on your weights, reducing the likelihood of injury or strain.
Who Should Wear Weight-Lifting Gloves?
Weighing the pros and cons is key. If you have a skin condition that could get worse or become very painful without the use of gloves, then choosing to wear them might be the best option. “By wearing gloves if you have eczema or other skin conditions, the hands are protected, minimizing warts and bacteria from getting into the skin,” added Seelal.
Warts are contagious, so if you have them, you should wear gloves. You can also protect yourself from getting warts by wearing gloves in shared spaces, so if that is a concern for you, gloves are ideal.
“If you are going to a communal gym where a lot of folks are using the weights, gloves might be a good idea to prevent warts or transmission of other viral or bacterial particles. You could also consider wiping the weights down with a sanitizing wipe before your workout,” recommends Campbell.
Another concern is allergies. “If you are allergic to metals or materials in the weight, the protective barrier of the glove may help minimize any allergy or hand dermatitis you are experiencing,” says Campbell.
Do You Always Need to Wear Weight-Lifting Gloves?
If warts and other skin conditions are not a concern, then you do not have to wear weight-lifting gloves. You can try wearing them for a few workouts to see how it feels, bearing in mind that they may prevent proper grip and lead to slipping and injuries.
The Final Takeaway
Weight-lifting gloves are a fun accessory but might not be necessary for you. If you are concerned about bacteria or warts or have another skin condition, wearing weight-lifting gloves might be the best option.
If you have calluses or blisters from weight lifting, know that this is normal and it’s the body’s way of protecting your skin. Don’t pick or peel off the calluses, as this may lead to infection and pain.