If you use kettlebells, blisters are inevitable. Beginners often end up with painful blisters after an intense session of kettlebell snatches, or when they move up in weight to a heavier bell.
Use these tips to reduce the occurrence of kettlebell blisters. Remember, unless you keep your hands injury-free, you can’t get a good kettlebell workout.
Use gloves for a while
When you start to notice that your calluses are getting painful, try wearing a pair of gloves to reduce the friction between the kettlebell handle and your hand. Although gloves are not a good long-term solution to the problem, they’re an effective stopgap measure that can mean the difference between quitting and getting a full workout.
Hand maintenance — File your calluses
When your calluses start to grow too big, you run the risk of having it tear off and expose the tender skin beneath. So, keep your calluses trimmed and level with the rest of your skin. Use a callus buffer (sometimes called a pumice stone or a foot file) to get them back under control.
It’s a good idea to soak your hand(s) in warm water before using the pumice stone. Alternatively, use the stone after you come out of the shower.
Grip it the right way
If your kettlebell technique is off, blisters are going to rear their ugly heads at some point during your training. You have to use good technique so the ‘bell isn’t sliding all over your palm and fingers, rubbing and tearing at your skin.
This is especially important during the kettlebell snatch and other overhead lifts. If you suspect your technique isn’t as good as it should be, do yourself (and your palms) a favor and brush up on proper kettlebell form.
Chalk and powder to prevent kettlebell blisters
Calluses form due to repeated friction, pressure, or irritation. Some people like to coat their hands with weightlifting chalk before going through their kettlebell workout. Chalk improves the grip, which in turn stops the bell from sliding all over your hand. But it increases the friction between the handle of the kettlebell and your palm.
Others use a light dusting of talcum powder during high-rep swings or other lifts. While this reduces friction (and reduces the risk of blisters), it also reduces your grip. Don’t use talc during ‘pulling’ moves unless you have a lightweight kettlebell.
Some folks have been known to use tape to protect the hands. At some kettlebell competitions, I’ve even seen guys wrap their palms in duct tape to stave off blister formation.
But this is a desperation move, at best. The sticky material from the tape will get all over your hands and the handle of your kettlebell, and it will actually increase the rate at which blisters occur.
So, use tape to keep pre-existing blisters from popping and tearing, but don’t use it to prevent blisters from happening in the first place.