CrossFit Hays » Chalk Use 101

Chalk Use 101

Let’s chat on chalk. Did you know that naturally occurring chalk is made of calcium carbonate? The chalk we, gymnastics, and climbers use is usually made of magnesium carbonate. We use chalk to absorb the moisture, i.e. sweat or oil on your hands that prevent you from getting a good grip on the pullup bar, barbell, dumbbell or kettle bell.

Unfortunately, some of us are dangerously addicted to chalk. Our addiction is revealed through handprints. We can see white outlines on your workout clothing and on the rears of those you smack. Our gym floor has flawless white handprints when going from the pull-up bar to pushups or to the wall for handstands. At least you know exactly where you traveled during the workout. How about the chalk ring around the chalk bucket? We also know some that subconsciously re-chalks every time their hands leave the bar. Clock is running and you are losing the race at the chalk bucket! My favorite is watching an athlete dive into the chalk bucket, now wearing precious thick white gloves, leaving a trail half way across the gym and then clapping all the chalk off right before hitting the bar. What a mess! What a waste! Why use all that chalk in the first place? This adds more work and cleaning for your coaches as well as adds to the chalk expense.

What are even worse are the hands that are ripped to shreds. Your virgin hand rip is “cool”. It’s like being indoctrinated into the CrossFit Hays “Cool Club”. However, if possible, any tears can and should be avoided. Hand rips can be nasty and they hurt like hell! Chalk will allow for a better grip, which means it increases friction. However, too much chalk will cause excess friction between your hand and the bar and can be the culprit of a hand tear. Worst of all, tears will prevent you from doing the majority of the WODs for days until they can heal properly. Hand rips will happen occasionally, but do your best to prevent them. Think of tear prevention as being as important as mobility and when you decide to chalk up for a workout, try to stick to the following:

  1. Use chalk only when you can’t hang on to the bar anymore.
  2. Put a very light dusting on your hands. This should barely be visible. No chalk baths.
  3. Heavy sweaters (you know who you are), consider bringing a towel to dry off your hands before chalking. Again, light dusting after drying your hands off.
  4. Leave the chalk in the chalk bucket. There should be chalk only two places ever: in the chalk bucket and on your hands. Don’t chalk up the bars, the floor or the air we breathe. Breathing chalk during a workout sucks!
  5. And remember, “If you insist on wearing gloves, make sure they match your purse!” This goes for chalk gloves too.


In the sweaty mess that we become in the heart of our workouts, it’s natural to want to reach for some chalk to give us a little more grip (and rest). However, there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to chalk use.

For more information about Callous Maintenance and correct chalk use, read this article.


If you have any questions, feel free to ask any of our coaches/owners.

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