Training Log

Starting Strength in the Real World

Chalk in the Gym

by Mark Rippetoe | February 04, 2020

Gymnastics chalk/magnesium carbonate is a necessary part of barbell training. It drastically improves your hand/barbell interface by drying the skin of the palm and fingers, and by providing a fine grit layer that increases friction between the hand and the knurl of the bar. Gyms that provide chalk are rare, because gyms that actually care about your training are rare.

The primary problem is you. If you waste the chalk by slapping your chalked hands together, creating a dramatic, histrionic cloud of airborne dust, drawing further attention to yourself as you yell at the bar before your work set, you are being a douchebag. And you're making a mess on the floor. Somebody has to clean this shit up, and if that somebody was you, I'll bet you wouldn't do the douchebag thing.

If you are training in a gym that has enough concern for your training to provide chalk, please be respectful of this. Chalk isn't terribly expensive, but Management doesn't appreciate your wasting it, and Management already has enough shit to keep clean without your help. Use the chalk over the chalk box only – don't carry it all over the gym, using it where it's convenient for you, always failing to put it back in the box. Don't take a bath in the chalk; use enough on your hands (and maybe on your shirt) to do the job, and that's all. If the chalk is still in a block in the chalk box, don't intentionally break it up into little pieces and powder – if Management wanted it broken up, Management would have broken it up when Management put it in the chalk box. And don't sweat all over the chalk block, because this makes hard spots on the block and makes it harder for everybody else to use.

If you're training in a gym that doesn't provide chalk, it may be that Management has gotten tired of the above problems you have created. But if they still allow you to bring your own chalk into the gym, keep it in your gym bag in a good container that won't explode if you drop it. Use enough to get the job done, and don't make a mess. If you make a mess, Management may ask you to train somewhere else, which you should probably be doing anyway.

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