Training Log

Starting Strength in the Real World

The Chalk Box

by Mark Rippetoe | April 12, 2022

lifter chalking up over the chalk box

If your gym is so cool as to have a chalk box – the gym graciously provides chalk for your use – you are in a real gym. A special place that values training over cleanliness. Here are some suggestions that will keep us from reconsidering our priorities.

1. Use the chalk directly over the box. Don't grab the chalk and walk around the gym while you chalk your hands. This makes a mess that Management has to clean up.

2. Don't chalk your hands and then clap them together, making clouds of chalk in the air. Nobody wants to see you do this, the chalk in the air ends up all over the gym and in the AC filters, and it wastes chalk – what comes off your hands didn't need to be there anyway, right?

3. When you get to the chalk box, there will be some small pieces and some dust, along with a bigger block. Either use the small pieces or the dust, or use the block itself on your hands. Do not break the block into small pieces, because that is Management's job, not yours.

4. If you need to chalk the back of your shirt to squat, use the big block and have your partner do it carefully. I have seen hundreds of perfectly good blocks of chalk fractured into white gravel on the floor by idiots who could not control the amount of force applied between chalk block and shirt. Again, Management breaks the chalk, not you.

5. Chalk is not lube. Don't use it on your sweaty thighs, thinking it will help the bar slide up during a deadlift. This gums up the block and does not lube your thighs.

Chalk is relatively expensive if you're buying it for the whole gym. You may get a year out of one block, but we don't, and it pisses us off to see it wasted. It is being provided for you as a courtesy, because you're fortunate enough to be training in a actual gym. Please treat it accordingly.

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