Building Callouses

Despite what you may have heard, callouses on our hands are actually a good thing. Large callouses however, are not. Let’s start by defining what a callous actually is.
Callous –showing or having an insensitive and cruel disregard for others.  Oh, ok, not that kind. Callouses are quite simply just a hardened or thick part of the skin. With repetitive use, areas of the skin begin to harden. I see this most often in pull ups. Anyone new to CrossFit,has issues with their hands hurting more than anything , due to the continuous (new) demand on their grip. There’s no way to really ease into this or get around “toughening up” the skin. Doing more work will allow the skin to toughen over time. You need this to happen.

You’ve Arrived

Immerse yourself into training for a few months, and you’ll notice baby callouses. When this happens, my newbie CrossFitters are often filled with excitement as they have a sense of feeling as though they have finally  ‘arrived’! It’s so cute. The hands have become tougher and with that the grip typically becomes stronger and one is able to put in a bit more work.

Tearing is Not for Cool Kids

I know you’ve seen the images of bloody hands on social media, (a few of my own) after a voluminous toes to bar or pull up workout. Some may feel as those are badges of honor.  However, this should not be the case. We have to care for the callouses as we would for any other body part we train. If we don’t, we are sure to rip and that is extremely unpleasant and can ruin your week of training.

How to Care for Your Hands

There are several ways of caring for your callouses and several items on the market to help you. Here are a few:

Ripfix actually has a kit that runs about $16 and includes a pumice stone, cuticle trimmer as well as the cream. I have one and although I prefer other methods, it is useful.

Shredded My Hands, What Now?

So most of us have been there once or twice, didn’t use preventive measures and now we have kids. Oh wait, not the topic today….
So you’ve shredded our hands during one of those awful workouts our awesome coach programmed. What now?

  • First, as painful as it is, and yes, it is very painful, you must wash right away with soap and water. I’ll wait outside the bathroom and listen for your screams.
  • Next, cut away any remaining skin around the affected area.
  • Break oven a Vitamin E Capsule and apply generously to the affected area
  • Cover with a Bandaid Brand Advanced Healing Blister Cushion (I like these)

Double Check Your Grip

If you’re taking care of your hands but seem to have continuous issues with ripping, check how you’re gripping the bar, especially during pull ups. You should never reach your hand completely over the bar (palm), instead, use the same grip you would if you were deadlifting. It will take some time to create a stronger grip, but it will certainly be worth saving the hands.

Here’s a video I made a couple of years ago on what works for me.


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