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?

Gloves for 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 look like I just ran a marathon! Those of you that know me personally can vouch for that, lol.

I also like to challenge myself with advanced kettlebell play that requires catch and release, as well as flipping the Bell. Sometimes I use lighter kettlebells but when I decide to go a bit heavier, hand care certainly comes into play.

SWEAT + Heavy Kettlebells + Ballistic Work = UNHAPPY HANDS! 

Torn Callous

Torn Callous

Those of us that have trained for a while, realize that the way that we Grip a kettlebell contributes vastly to how “Beat Up” our hands get during a session. So many new things are going on while learning 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 them “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 Bell; especially heavy Bells. In order to pass certain “tests” that are out there, multiple Snatch reps need to be performed in a short duration of time. These workouts are usually done multiple times per week when preparing for Exams, Challenges, Certifications and Personal Bests.

If a person:

  • Sweats a lot
  • Fatigues while training
  • Has Improper technique
  • A Bad Grip
  • Does not maintain callouses

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

I prefer that my clients continue their training and progression 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.”

If anything, it only makes you look a little less than smart for your efforts..

File your Callouses

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 shoes, the less protection that we have, the more overall sensitivity that we experience. Use the THINNEST gloves that you can find. Baseball batting gloves, golf gloves and Scuba gloves are minimal, 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 kettlebells because of hand issues. When we give options that are sound and effective, we are doing our job as Coaches, as well as Kettlebell Fans!

We want people Joining us not being scared of the bells.

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 Some Kettlebells. Whatever it takes for you to succeed is what I am interested in. The Rest… Well, that goes straight to 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