Should you wear gloves or kettlebell wrist guards when training with kettlebells or not?
The answer is yes and no.
There are occasions where it’s acceptable and recommended to wear gloves or wrist guards/sweatbands when kettlebell training but in general the answer is no, and I’ll explain why.
First, let me ask the question why do you want/need to wear gloves?
- Because you’re developing calluses?
- Because you’ve got blisters?
- Because it feels better?
If the answer is yes to any of the above bullet points then the solution is to learn the correct technique. With the correct technique and the right kettlebells, there is absolutely no reason to experience any pain or discomfort at all. See tips further below.
Wearing gloves promotes beginners not to dig deeper into the kettlebell world and basically take a shortcut which promotes bad form and technique, things like:
- Tight grips
- Broken wrist grip
- Not opening up
- No insert
Make sure to check out all the tips at the bottom to prevent these issues.
Wearing gloves removes the connection between you and the bell. By that, I don’t mean some hocus pocus magic connection. I mean the connection between the kettlebell and your receptors, they detect pressure, temperature, vibrations, etc. on or around the skin which all attributes to be able to transition grips properly and positioning of the kettlebell, etc. There is more to it, but over the decades I’ve been teaching people or see people teaching themselves, the ones that insist on gloves never make progress with technique.
When is it ok to wear kettlebell gloves then?
If you’ve made a mistake and ripped your hands it’s perfectly ok to train with kettlebell gloves till it heals. If you’re a kettlebell sport athlete and have a competition coming up and need to train volume but don’t want to run the risk of tearing your hands. Yes, extremely high volume with a heavy weight as performed in the sport can rip the hands. Kettlebell sport is where athletes perform hundreds of unbroken reps with a heavy weight.
Kettlebell wrist guards
The same applies to kettlebell wrist guards. You should learn the technique first and be able to clean at least 10 sets of 20 reps with a medium weight and experience no bruising. If you’re doing high volume with heavy weight then it’s ok to wear kettlebell wrist guards. The wrist bands are also used as sweatbands during long sets, like 5, 10, 30, or 60 minutes of non-stop kettlebell lifting.
The design of the kettlebell can also be cause for bruising or excessive calluses, some kettlebells have a small window that prevents a good hand insert (broken wrist grip), and some kettlebells have rougher handles which create additional friction. I highly recommend looking into competition kettlebells or Pro Grade kettlebells which are all the same size, have smooth handles, and a bigger window, it’s the only kettlebell I ever use. Note, these below are not competition kettlebells even though they list them as such. Look for the kettlebells that are all the same size no matter what weight.
This is a competition kettlebell but personally I’m not a big fan of kettlebells with imprints, I prefer them to be completely smooth so there are no issues with the forearm.
Be aware that developing calluses when training with dumbbells, barbells, bars, or kettlebells is normal and the areas should be maintained with a pumice stone or other type of tool to maintain the skin like a calluses shaver which is what I use. You’re much better off letting some calluses develop and maintain it than to wear gloves. Gloves also disconnect you from the tool and there is the possibility of the handle slipping, much more so than when not using gloves. Chalk is used when you get sweaty hands during your kettlebell workout.
If you still want to wear gloves who is going to stop you? No one!
If you want to buy some kettlebell gloves on Amazon you can do so here. If you want to buy some kettlebell wrist guards on Amazon you can do so here. Or check out the suggestions further below.
The most common causes for ripped hands with kettlebells are:
- Friction in the hand during the clean
- Friction in the hand during the drop of the clean
- Friction in the hand during the snatch
- Friction in the hand during the drop of the snatch
- Friction in the hand at the end of the swing (bobbing)
All of the above can be avoided with proper technique, hook grip, open up and insert, control the weight before it controls you, guide the trajectory, make sure your kettlebell handles are maintained, and much more. Unlock important videos at the bottom that show you how to prevent some of the above issues.
Maintaining your kettlebell
It’s just as important to maintain your kettlebell as it is to maintain your hands. You can maintain your hands but be working with a handle that has rust or other uneven rough bits and you’ll still be ripping your hands. You can use rough sandpaper to get major rust off and then finish it off with some fine sandpaper. You don’t want a kettlebell handle to be too smooth either, but you certainly don’t want any uneven/rough patches. If it’s too smooth you’ll be struggling to hold on to it and if it’s too rough it will rip your hands. Find the right balance.
You might have all the above just right but still be experiencing issues, you should then look at:
Are you doing too many, too heavy, or too often without enough rest? Make sure your programming is right.
Get it right and lay proper foundations
If you want to do things right and learn the technique for the clean or racking then you’re also in the right place. I will direct you to books and courses which will teach you things like ‘early insert’ to prevent banging and bruising, how to position the kettlebell to prevent pressure, how to open up to prevent friction, and many more things that will take your kettlebell training to the next level so you can train without kettlebell injuries and annoyances.
- Kettlebell clean book on Amazon
- Kettlebell clean online course
- Kettlebell fundamentals online kettlebell certification for trainers
- Kettlebell fundamentals for at-home users
- Kettlebell fundamentals book on Amazon
- 21-days to kettlebell training for beginners on Udemy
- Learn how to kettlebell snatch and not rip your hands with this online course
- Snatch physics on Amazon
|Gloves for Women||Gloves for Men|
|Unisex wrist guard||Wrist guards for Men|
Tips and tricks to avoid ripping the hands
Kettlebell clean in slow motion, pay attention to the drop and how the hand opens up on the up phase. Get kettlebell clean certified online here.
This video shows you how to prevent bobbing at the backswing. Get kettlebell certified online here.
This video shows you how to drop the kettlebell from the snatch. Get kettlebell snatch certified online here.
Another video showing the snatch in slow-mo for proper transitions.
Bonus 70+ clean variations
What about all those saying it’s ok?
The people you’ll find saying yes to gloves outside of the above reasons are usually those that have not invested in the fundamentals and don’t intend to, and that’s fine, but you have to decide whether you want to remain on that side that will never progress or cross to the side that opens up a whole new world to you. The choice is completely yours.