Should I Wear Gloves When I Train with Kettlebells?

It seems that philosophy gets in the way of common sense at times when it comes to kettlebell training.

If you were barefoot and your mission was to walk across the street but the pavement was way to hot, would you think twice about putting on foot protection to accomplish that mission?

I would Dare to say, “Of Course you would!” So when the objective changes to kettlebell training, would you walk away when things get a little less than easy, or would you address the issue to accomplish that task?

Should I Wear Gloves When I Train with Kettlebells?

Use old scuba, batting or golf gloves and cut the fingertips off

Many out there feel that wearing gloves during kettlebell practice is cheating. They feel that it takes away from the experience and inhibits gains and attribute building from their training. Things like proprioception and sensitivity get Lost when wearing gloves.

I can see why this information would seem valid and I agree with most of it. But what is often overlooked is that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to kettlebell training; hand protection included.

Let’s elaborate…

I am one of those guys that sweats… a lot.  I could be standing at attention in an igloo and my shirt would be drenched with sweat as if I has just ran a marathon! Those of you that know me personally can vouch for that. :-)

Should I Wear Gloves When I Train with Kettlebells?

cut the fingers off of cotton gardening gloves as an option for kettlebell gloves

I also like to challenge myself with advanced kettlebell play that requires catch and release, -kettlebell Juggling- as well as flipping the kettlebell. Whether we are training with light or heavy kettlebells, hand care certainly comes into play.

SWEAT + Kettlebells + Ballistic Work = UNHAPPY HANDS! 

Should I Wear Gloves When I Train with Kettlebells?

Prevent Torn Callous

Those of us that have trained with kettlebells for a while realize that the way that we grip a kettlebell contributes vastly to how “Beat Up” our hands get during a session. There are so many new things occurring while learning our kettlebell fundamentals. As Coaches, we strive to get people to enjoy their kettlebell experience so that they can stick to it. If a pair of thin gloves keeps us “Doing the Work” why would we possibly object to that notion?

Anyone who has snatched a kettlebell realizes the toll that it can take on your hands while performing multiple reps with a kettlebell; especially heavy kettlebells. In order to pass certain “tests” that are out there, multiple kettlebell snatch repititions need to be performed in a short duration of time. These workouts are usually done multiple times per week when preparing for tests, exams, challenges, certifications and personal records.

If a person:

  • Sweats a lot
  • Fatigues while training
  • Has poor kettlebell technique
  • A Bad Grip
  • Proper Hand care maintenance
  • Proper Restoration

their hands WILL pay the price in the form of ripped callouses, skin tears and hotspots!

I prefer that our members continue their training and progress effectively by wearing a super thin pair of gloves and/or other contraption that will allow them to train safely. Infections and missed training isn’t going to make you “Tough” and it certainly will not enhance your kettlebell training.

Should I Wear Gloves When I Train with Kettlebells?

File your Callouses to keep them smooth

Keep in mind that I “Suggest” gloves when needed but NOT for every training session.

If you are just “practicing” and NOT working out, then you should keep the gloves off unless you have an existing “soft spot” or sensitive hands from previous pro-longed training sessions. MINIMAL is the word of choice here.

Just like footwear, the less material that we have on, the more overall sensitivity that we experience. Use the thinnest gloves that you can find; just enough to keep your current training up to par. Baseball batting gloves, golf gloves and scuba gloves are minimal for the most part, usually last for a long time, and are relatively inexpensive. You can even ask your friends if they have an old pair laying around. The more broken in, the better your sensitivity will be while still protecting your hands.

We do not want to alter our technique when using hand protection. That is the goal. If you can get away with just some athletic tape on your “injuries” then stick with it. It is all about baby-steps. I have seen to many people give up on kettlebell training because of hand issues & concerns. When we give options that are sound and effective, we are doing our job as Coaches, as well as kettlebell Ambassadors.

We want people who are seeking kettlebell training to feel comfortable and less intimidated.

Be smart, know your limits and do what makes sense for you. There is a lot of “Advice” out there which just confuses us all. But one thing that I can promise is that Common-Sense wins every time!

Now Get Out There and Play with your kettlebells. Whatever it takes for you to succeed is what I am interested in. The Rest… Well, that goes straight into my SPAM folder. 😉

Thank You for reading, I hope that you found this helpful!

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  • Luke Young

    Yeah, I have really bad eczema on my hands. As much as I would love to not wear gloves (prefer the feel of my hand on the steel), I sometimes cannot do this. My hands are already dry as bone and with snatches and even cleans, I can make my life miserable.

    Google a few pictures of eczema on hands and you might get an idea of why some people would wear gloves.

    Like you said… it’s different for different people.

    • Helder Gomes

      Thank you for sharing Luke, it is certainly appreciated! -Hg