One of the most limiting factors for women is lack of grip strength.
When it comes to strength you are only as strong as your weakest link, and most often for women that weak link is grip strength.
In order to get better at something you have to attack your weakness, not avoid it.
If your goal is to get stronger then you must attack your weakness, not avoid it.
Instead of working on their weakness most women do everything they can do avoid working on their grip because it is somewhat painful and uncomfortable.
Often times women start wearing gloves because of the initial pain and discomfort in their hands when they first start lifting. This is a big mistake.
None of the female athletes that I coach use gloves. At first it’s painful on the hands but then they adapt and adjust and it’s no longer an issue. Yes there are always exceptions such as medical conditions and more. But saying “my hands hurt” is not a medical condition. Let your hands get used to it. You will be glad you did.
If gloves improved my athletes lifting and training all my athletes would use them and I would sell them at my gym. However gloves do not do that, and you won’t see them sold at my gym :).
For the most part using gloves is one of the worst things you can do for your results and your strength.
Here Are 3 Reasons Women Should Not Wear Gloves When Lifting Weights
1. It Will Reduce Your Grip Strength
As I mentioned in the intro grip strength is the single biggest limiting factor I see when coaching women. Because they lack the upper body size in muscle and for the most part smaller hands women avoid grip strength work.
This is a HUGE mistake. You can leg press and squat as much weight as you want, but sooner or later your grip (or lack of grip strength) is going to play a role.
I see it often where women have great squats, but when it comes to deadlifts or other strength exercises that rely on grip they can’t keep up. This is because their hands are weak and their grip strength is weak.
Even though lack of grip strength is the #1 factor in limiting women and their strength it is also the easiest factor to fix. You just need to make sure you train it and not ignore it.
2. It Will Negatively Impact Your Strength Outside The Gym
My goal when I coach women to get strong is to make them a beast in the gym, but to also give them what I call “real world strength” outside the gym.
Think about this, you can pull a 300 pound deadlift using gloves and straps. What are you going to do when you have to grab 100 lbs of groceries and carry them to your car. Are you going to look for your straps and gloves?
You are going to grab every grocery bag in one shot, deal with the temporary discomfort and get it done.
You have to improve your grip and toughen up your hands a little, if you don’t do this then you are RELYING on something to help you.
While I think using straps has it’s place in training (and that is another article coming soon), gloves in my opinion for the most part should not be used. Unless you have a medical condition for your hands/skin stop using gloves and let your hands toughen up a little.
When it comes to your hands being sore and getting callused this is hard usually only for the first few weeks, then your hands/body adapts. Most women as soon as they feel their hands hurting give up on this and use gloves. This is a BIG mistake. Just work through it for a few weeks and your hands (like everything) will adapt and get stronger.
3. It Will Decrease Tactile Feel In Training
This one goes a little deeper but I think it’s very important.
Every time you touch a barbell, dumbell, kettlebell your hands are sending signals. Your hands (and feet) are the contact points. They interpret things and send these signals to your body and your brain.
This tactile feel is very important for many reasons. Once you put gloves on your hands this tactile feel gets messed up and your body can not properly interpret the signals. It’s also a big reason why I recommend barefoot squatting and deadliftng along with using squat shoes and deadlift shoes. You want to be improving the mind body connection all the time.
A lot of injuries that people have in their shoulders, hips, lower back etc. can be improved by improving the feet and toes. Your hands are very important for many reasons.
Yes poor technnie and ego leads to lofts of lifting injruries but you would be srprised how maby people have shoulder pain because of their hands and wrists and how much hip pain comes from the foot and ankle.
Don’t neglect barefoot and bare hand training. It’s important.
I always use the analogy of would would you bench press or do pull ups in oven mitts? Then why are you always squatting in running shoes that have padding and reduce the ability of your toes to work.
This also applies to wearing padded gloves to protect your hands.
By doing this you are trading off important things like the tactile feel and the mind body connection of you and the weight.
At first grip training is hard, your hands will hurt, you may get a few calluses and it’s going to sting a little, but do your best to get used to it.
Get some chaulk, and let your hands toughen up a little. They will adapt fast and your grip strength will no longer be a limiting factor inside the gym or outside the gym.
How Can You Improve Your Grip?
Want to improve your grip? Here are a few things that can help you.
It will hurt at first but I promise that after a short period of time your hands will adapt and your overall body strength will improve and you will reduce chances of injuries as well.
Ditch the gloves, build your hand strength, your grip strength and after a few short weeks this won’t be an issue anymore.
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Rob King is a Competitive PowerLifter, Coach and Writer.