How to Prevent Hand Blisters From the Gym

Photo: Stocksy/Kristin Duvall

CrossFit, rowing, and other workouts that require lots of lifting and gripping will probably give you defined triceps and toned thighs, but they often come with another less pretty prize: hand blisters from the gym.

Working out can cause blisters thanks to the "friction of your hand rubbing against the weight bar," DeBlair Tate, personal trainer and owner of 8Figured, previously told Well+Good. Eric Von Frohlich, founder of Row House and two-location CrossFit box EVF Performance, in New York City, says that hand blisters (as well and calluses and dry skin) are very common in his community. So much so, that he even created a racy t-shirt slogan: "Rough hands, smooth ass."

But that doesn't mean everyone's fine with getting blisters—and we don't just mean your manicurist. A blister can seriously set back your fitness goals. "The strongest weight lifters are very conscious of the need to take care of their hands," Von Frohlich explains. "Once you have a blister or callus, it will build until it eventually tears, and then you can't do any exercises with gripping. There's no glory in that."

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And do you know how to treat blisters? You just gotta be patient and wait it out.

While it's nearly impossible to never get them, there are things you can do to minimize how often blisters crop up, Von Frochlich says.

How to prevent hand blisters from the gym

1. Stop holding on for dear life

A tendency for beginner rowers is over-gripping, Von Frohlich says. "It's important to relax your fingers. You want your grip to be firm but not overly strong," he says.

2. Leave your engagement ring in your locker (or at home)

Wearing rings is a big no-no. "It will pinch the skin every time you grab a bar, which will lead to blistering." It could also really scratch your jewelry.

3. Keep 'em clean and soft

If you're using chalk at CrossFit, don't wait to wash it off later, since it can drastically dry out your hands. "What it really comes down to is getting the chalk off after a workout and cleaning your hands every night as part of a beauty regimen," he advises. That means using a pumice stone if calluses develop and moisturizing religiously.

4. Use a protective balm

Before a tough workout, Von Frohlich applies a product called Tuf-Foot, originally developed to protect dogs' paws and horses' hooves. But as you'd expect, he admits the smell is not exactly appealing. Another less fragrant option he recommends is Bag Balm. We're thinking an all-natural Paw Paw balm or do-it-all coconut oil would also do the trick. Just make sure it's absorbed well before you go to grab the kettlebell.

5. Wear gloves (or tape)

"Some people like gloves and some people hate them because they generally can't get as good of a grip," Von Frohlich explains. But they will definitely help prevent blisters. Now there are brands like G-Loves that make them for women in fun patterns and styles. Tape is also an option, but you can't use a lot. "Too much will cause your hands to slide on the bar," he warns.

Putting a few of these guidelines into practice—and getting your grip on often (sporadic lifters tend to have worse blisters)—should help make your blisters ways less intrusive. Which is another good reason not to skip your WOD.

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