When I first started kettlebell training I had no idea that chalking the kettlebell was so important, as I had always just chalked my hands and assumed that was enough.
Now that I’m more experienced, I realize that chalking the kettlebell is critical for success to protect our hands and perform optimally when we’re lifting competitively, or recreationally with higher repetitions and a humid environment.
So, how do you chalk a kettlebell properly? Here are the 4 steps:
- Rough Up The Surface
- Warm The Surface
- Apply Chalk Using Friction From The Hand
- Continue Chalking Until The Surface Is Covered Evenly
While chalking the kettlebell sounds simple, there are actually steps we must follow to chalk the kettlebell properly. If we don’t follow these important steps, we won’t get the hand protection that we need or minimize the risk of losing our grip.
In this article I’ll discuss why chalking our kettlebell is important, how to chalk the kettlebell correctly, and 3 common mistakes to avoid while chalking the kettlebell.
Check out my related kettlebell articles:
Why Do We Need To Chalk Our Kettlebells?
We need to chalk our kettlebells to avoid excess moisture from impacting our ability to grip the kettlebell and to decrease the risk of tearing open our hand – this is especially important when training with higher repetitions or humid conditions.
If we’re someone who sweats easily, competes in crossfit or kettlebell sport, and/or trains with higher repetitions then chalk is necessary. If we don’t use chalk then we are likely struggling to keep the kettlebell from slipping out of our hands (which causes calluses), and fatiguing our grip early on in our training session because we grip the kettlebell tighter to try and hold on.
It is more effective to chalk the kettlebell handle and our hands when we’re training because the chalk on the kettlebell will last longer than the chalk on our hands, but we should still chalk our hands to soak up the moisture so that it does not transfer to the chalked kettlebell.
If we’re training with lower repetitions and we are not in a humid environment, then chalking the kettlebell is less important but I still recommend that we chalk our hands to prevent our hands from tearing (because it’s pretty painful).
Chalking A Kettlebell Properly: Step-By-Step
1. Rough Up The Surface
It’s important to rough up the kettlebell handle before trying to apply chalk because the chalk will adhere better to a handle that has been cleaned of previous chalk debris and that is scratched up.
If we’re chalking a new bell for the first time then we are going to want to use sandpaper that is 150 grit (medium coarseness) because it will be smoother than a used kettlebell. We need to scratch up the handle to give the chalk something to grip onto and get better adhesion of the chalk.
If our kettlebell is not new and we’re just re-chalking, then we can get by with a finer grit sandpaper to rough up the handle for the chalk to adhere.
If we have a powder coat or e-coat kettlebell then we can skip this step, because the handle will already be textured enough from the coating to give the chalk a good base to adhere to.
2. Warm The Surface
To get the chalk to adhere more quickly, we need to warm up the kettlebell handle beforehand by rubbing our palm aggressively along the handle, or chalking in between sets while we’re training.
There is no real technique for warming up the surface, as everyone will likely have their own way of doing it.
The key is just to get the handle above room temperature, to get the chalk to stick to the kettlebell faster once we start the process.
3. Apply Chalk Using Friction From The Hand
The best way to get chalk to stay on the kettlebell is to rub the chalk into the handle using friction from the hand until the chalk begins to adhere to the surface.
I highly recommend placing the kettlebell in a big bucket while applying chalk to avoid getting an obnoxious amount of chalk on the floor. Then we can begin applying chalk by grabbing a handful of chalk and rubbing it into the handle using friction from our hand.
The best technique is to grip the handle with chalk in our palm and twist our hand back and forth on the handle to rub the chalk onto the handle.
It is important to also chalk the horns (where the handle bends on each side and attaches to the bell) of the kettlebell as well, as these are a key area for gripping snatches and cleans.
4. Continue Chalking Until The Surface Is Evenly Covered
It’s important to continue rubbing chalk into the kettlebell handle until the chalk begins to adhere and it is evenly applied, as this will prolong the amount of time the chalk will last before we must repeat the process.
This process will likely take us a bit longer in the beginning stages, but over time we will become more efficient using friction to apply the chalk.
It’s also important to note that if we’re working with a newer kettlebell, the process will take a bit longer – even though we did rough it up in the first step.
How Often Do You Need To Chalk The Kettlebell?
The amount of time that the chalk will last will vary depending on the number of repetitions we perform, the style of training, and the humidity of the environment we are training in.
We will likely need to re-chalk the kettlebell if we are doing a kettlebell sport style of training that involves longer sets (10 minutes) and higher repetitions of snatches and cleans – because this will wear down the chalk quite quickly.
If we’re doing lower reps then simply chalking the hands is likely sufficient for maintaining our grip. We could chalk the kettlebell whenever we feel as though there is not enough chalk on the kettlebell to maintain our grip, despite chalking our hands.
3 Mistakes To Avoid When Chalking A Kettlebell
- Using Water To Apply Chalk
- Not Applying Enough Chalk
- Failing To Remove Old Chalk Before Re-Chalking
1. Using Water To Apply Chalk
If we use water on the kettlebell handle to apply chalk, it causes the chalk to clump and creates a jagged surface for us to grip which is harder on our hands and increases the risk of tearing open our hands.
To avoid tearing our hands, we should focus on warming up the kettlebell and applying chalk using friction from our palm rubbing/twisting on the kettlebell handle.
2. Not Applying Enough Chalk
If we are not patient enough and do not get a good layer of chalk on the kettlebell, then the chalk that we did apply will not last very long and we will likely lose our grip and/or tear our hand.
This is extremely important for those competing in kettlebell sport or crossfit, but likely isn’t too much of a concern for those doing fewer repetitions.
3. Failing To Remove Old Chalk Before Re-Chalking
If we do not remove excess chalk from the kettlebell handle before attempting to re-chalk the kettlebell, the chalk will not adhere and it will likely be gone after only one set.
To remove leftover chalk from the kettlebell handle and get the best adherence when re-chalking, we can use sandpaper from 80 grit to 150 grit to sand down to the surface to give the chalk something to grip.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Chalking Process the Same for All Styles of Kettlebells?
The process for applying chalk to a kettlebell is the same for all styles of kettlebell, but some kettlebells will retain chalk better than others – powder coated and e-coated kettlebells will be the best kettlebells to hold chalk, with chrome and plastic kettlebells having the worst chalk adherence.
Does It Matter What Brand of Chalk Is Used?
All chalk will absorb moisture to keep the hands from slipping but I would recommend looking for chalk that isn’t too “smooth” so it has a bit of grit to it, because it will help the chalk stick to the kettlebell and our hands a bit better; rather than rubbing off too easily. I like to use Vikn Chalk for chalking kettlebells and my hands for powerlifting and weightlifting, because I find it stays on longer than other brands of chalk on the market.
Do We Need To Chalk Kettlebells for All Types of Kettlebell Training?
If we’re training with lower repetitions and/or more general fitness movements rather than high repetition competition style movements (snatch, clean, jerk) then we probably don’t need to chalk the kettlebell as much (or at all), because chalking our hands will likely be sufficient.
Does Chalk Increase the Risk of Tearing Our Hands?
Chalk actually decreases the risk of tearing our hands as long as the chalk is properly applied (without water), and our technique is up to par. The chalk will absorb the moisture from our skin to prevent the kettlebell from sliding around and pulling on our skin – which would put us at a higher risk for tearing our hands.
Other Kettlebell Resources
- 1 Arm vs 2 Arm Swing: Pros, Cons, Which Is Best?
- 7 Kettlebell Swing Alternatives
- How To Keep The Kettlebell From Hitting Your Wrist (7 Tips)
- Powder Coat vs Competition Kettlebell: Pros & Cons
- Plastic Kettlebell vs Iron Kettlebell: Pros, Cons, Differences
- Adjustable vs Standard Kettlebell: Pros, Cons, Differences
- How To Get Rust Off A Kettlebell? (4 Steps For Restoring)
- Kettle Gryp Review: Pros, Cons, Is It Worth It?
- Is Your Kettlebell Too Heavy? (How To Know)
- 5 Best Competition Kettlebells (Crossfit or Kettlebell Sport)
- 3 Best Rubber Coated Kettlebell
- 5 Best Kettlebells For Two Handed Swings
- 4 Best Kettlebell Wrist Guards (2021)
- 7 Best Kettlebell Apps For Both iOS & Android (2021)
Learning how to chalk the kettlebell properly will help us take our kettlebell training to the next level, while keeping our hands protected. It’s important to learn how to chalk them properly so that the chalk lasts longer, and we can increase the amount of time between having to reapply.
About The Author
Amanda Parker has a passion for competing and coaching in both powerlifting and weightlifting. She uses her knowledge from her Kinesiology Degree, CSCS, and Precision Nutrition certification to coach athletes and lifestyle clients for performance in training and nutrition. Connect with her on Instagram.