Blisters and callouses are not a badge of honor. You’re not necessarily harder, better, faster or stronger for having them.

In fact, having your hands ripped open can prevent you from doing the workouts or lifting the weight you want, and it is simply not worth it.

So why do so many of us shy away from protecting our hands? It doesn’t make us any less of a true weightlifter or athlete if we do protect them. If anything, it means we value our tools (our hands) enough to keep them in good health so we can keep pushing through longer and more intense workouts.

The best thing to do to protect your hands is to invest in a quality pair of strength gloves and/or lifting grips. Both act as a barrier between the equipment (barbell, kettlebell, pull-up bar, etc.) and your hands to lessen the friction and pressure.

What to look for

Two key things to consider when shopping for strength gloves include breathability and moisture control. Half-finger length gloves can be a great choice for ventilation, and pay attention to the fabric on the back of the hand to help with moisture control – there should be some holes for air. (As a note, you also want to look for gloves that can be easily washed without losing their shape.)

Why they’re important

They don’t just look cool, but gloves have a real role in your fitness. Take it from this expert …

“Gloves can help provide improved grip during movement, while allowing the hands to progress in building strength. They protect against slippage from sweat, virtually eliminating the need for messy chalk and reducing the formation of those pesky callouses,” says Jess Manning, USAT Level II Coach, CrossFit Level 1 and personal trainer. “Gloves are a win-win for helping you do what you want; work out safer, longer, and more frequently, with improved results.”

When to use gloves

If you’re doing any sort of pulling motion, like a Lat Pull Down or a Pull Up for example, consider the palm grip-type gloves as an option. The single layer of leather provides both palm protection and a tackier, close contact feel on the bar. These grips have contoured edges that fit snugly in between your fingers and offer a sense of security and comfort while also helping to transfer the load. That pain and pressure you’re used to feeling at the point where your fingers meet your hands will be all but a memory after giving these type of gloves a whirl.

Don’t be fooled; blisters and callouses do not have to be something you must endure because you’re a weightlifter or you’re adding gymnastic movements to your workout. Nobody wants to shake a calloused hand in a business meeting or feel the roughness of your palm when meeting on a first date. You can and should protect your hands so that you don’t have to take an unplanned rest day and push back your gains, all because of a painful blister or tear.

Glove up!

Photo credit: Thinkstock, iStock, luckyraccoon.