Managing Calluses from Weightlifting

Lifting weights is a great way to get into shape, get stronger, put on muscle, build bone density, and it offers the perfect excuse to wear otherwise inappropriately tight clothing. Yet the greatest form of exercise on the planet can also cause some pretty nasty calluses, particularly for those who are just getting started. Developing natural calluses can toughen up the skin on your hands. Still, there is no reason to simply suffer through the painful process of getting calluses when you can just protect your skin!

Today, we will identify exactly what causes calluses, potential skin issues that may develop from calluses, and an easy way for men and women to repair dry, callused hands.

What Exactly are Calluses?

What Exactly are Calluses?

Calluses are layers of skin which harden and become thick in response to repetitive stress. They are very similar in nature to corns which may form on toes and feet due to ill-fitting shoes or simple overuse. Calluses are a natural way for your skin to protect itself from an area which may be experiencing higher than normal friction and/or pressure.

Unlike corns, calluses rarely cause discomfort and other complications. Calluses are typically resolved over time after the body adapts to the outside cause, the individual stops the activity causing calluses, or if the calluses are effectively managed with moisturizing lotion or other restorative products. 

How Lifting Weights Cause Calluses

How Lifting Weights Cause Calluses

Now that we know calluses are formed as a reaction to repeated friction and pressure, it is not hard to understand why weightlifting can cause some pretty nasty calluses. Beyond the obvious skin stress = calluses, there are a few specific reasons why the iron can cause your palms to get ripped up.

  • Weightlifting is all about push and pull: Simply holding a barbell wouldn’t do much damage to your fingers and palms. Add the shearing force of moving that barbell through space, and you get a situation where the skin is constantly being tugged on, ripped, and stretched.
  • Barbell and Dumbell knurling: Standard barbells and dumbells have “knurling”, which is the coarse, rough areas of the weights which are intended to be gripped. Knurling quite literally digs into your skin, providing a surface which is easier to grip for heavy exercises. They are also probably the primary culprit of hand calluses in the gym.
  • Pull-ups and other bodyweight exercises: Last but not least, it isn’t just heavy deadlifts that put calluses on your palms. Banging out 100 kipping pull-ups can be ever more damaging based on the force, momentum, and the accumulated friction involved.

Complications Arising From Hand Calluses

Thankfully, the likelihood that those with calluses from the gym will develop further complications is extremely rare. Calluses are a natural skin response to external stimuli, and the biggest complications usually involve accidentally scratching your partner’s skin with your mangled palms. However, there are a few medical conditions to keep in mind if you are dealing with moderate to severe calluses from lifting weights.

Individuals with diabetes should be careful to watch for infections and other skin abnormalities related to calluses. Blood flow issues can create situations where otherwise harmless calluses can ulcerate, lead to infection, and more.

Otherwise, there is a very small risk of an infection known as osteomyelitis. Symptoms of osteomyelitis include nausea, fever, swelling of the area, redness, and tenderness. Before you start to worry, the risk of a healthy adult developing osteomyelitis due to lifting weights is extremely, extremely rare. For the vast majority of lifters, calluses will be nothing more than an inconvenience.

Easy Callus Management for Weightlifters

Easy Callus Management for Weightlifters

Thankfully, that inconvenience can be managed pretty easily. Here are just a few ways to deal with dry, callused hands from weightlifting:

  1. Wear gloves or change the bars you are using. If you don’t want to deal with nasty calluses, you may want to nip the problem in the bud. Sure, lifting gloves aren’t exactly the pinnacle of masculinity, but if they were good enough for Ronnie Coleman, they are probably okay for you too.
  2. Use daily skin moisturizer. A powerful hand, foot, and elbow cream is the best way to manage calluses without entirely undercutting the natural skin hardening process. Remember, calluses serve a purpose. Moisturizing the skin will repair and restore your skin without undoing that progress.
  3. Never pick your calluses. Much like you should never pick your cuticles because they’ll just start to bleed, you should never pick your calluses because they will just continue to rip. Some lifters prefer to cut their calluses, but we personally feel that leaving them be is the best choice.
  4. Be patient. The beginning phase of developing calluses is the worst. Your skin is acclimating to lifting nasty, heavy pieces of metal over and over again. Your skin will adapt. It’s up to you to provide your skin with the nourishment to bounce back as fast as possible!

HEFF Repairs Dry, Chapped, and Callused Hands

That is where HEFF moisturizing cream comes into play. HEFF for dry, cracked hands, elbows and feet is specifically formulated for active men. Weightlifters put their hands through some of the most rigorous and damaging activities on the planet — and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Instead of holding back in the gym, rely on the powerful amino acids found in HEFF daily moisturizer to restore, repair, and rejuvenate your skin. 
To learn more, find us online or search for HEFF in any one of these major retailers. For any additional questions about HEFF, please feel free to contact us directly!