Why The CrossFit Chalk Bucket Is Killing You

Written By Ben  |  CrossFit 

Allow me to paint a quick picture for you…

You’re smack dab in the middle of a workout. It’s a hot and humid day, which can mean only one thing: slippery equipment. 

(cue horror movie music) 

You head over to your CrossFit gym's chalk bucket, then do some more reps. Then back to the chalk bucket, and finish those reps. On to the next exercise…. burpees. 

crossfit chalk bucket breaks

But back to the chalk bucket first. Because Hey, why not?! You can never have enough chalk, right?

You might know where I am going with this… we’ve all been there. But have you ever stopped for a minute to think about how all those short gym chalk bucket trips during could actually be limiting your potential?

First, let me be clear:

If you’re going to be swinging a kettlebell overhead, then you need a pretty good grip, and chalk is a reasonable requirement. Personally, nothing motivates me more to test my grip strength than having a 70 pound iron ball over my head.

chalk bucket crossfit

The CrossFit Chalk Bucket Dilemma 

That said, there is a point where your hands have enough chalk on them, and your grip is fine. From here the only thing that’s holding you back is your mind.

Your brain is a survival mechanism, it’s always going to choose the easy way out. So if you’re 10 reps into a 15 rep pull-up set and your grip starts fading, don’t run to the chalk bucket. No matter what your brain might be saying. Is your grip actually fading? Or are you just tired?

Hold on.

Think about it. Everything is burning, you’re gasping for air, and in your mind a trip to the chalk bucket is a great reason to drop off that bar.

crossfit chalk dry hands

Don’t listen to that voice, it’s holding you back. Drown it out. Shut it up.

I dare you to finish those five toes to bar reps. Even if your grip is starting to fail. Simply drop off the bar (for safety), wipe your hands dry, and then immediately get back on the bar.

Contrary to what your tempting mind and screaming muscles may be saying, the CrossFit chalk bucket pilgrimage is NOT the answer.

chalk bucket crossfit

CrossFit Chalk: There's A Time & A Place

Don’t get me wrong here, CrossFit gyms' chalk buckets are a great accessory that we couldn’t live without. It keeps our hands dry when they’re hot and sweaty, and thus gives us confidence when holding onto the equipment.

But we’ve all taken that extra trip to “chalk up” in the middle of a grueling workout. Did it help? Maybe. Was it necessary? Nope.

Intensity is what creates results. Intensity helps us build the mental grit to push through the suck. Those extra chalk bucket trips mid-workout might be curbing your intensity.

Changing Your CrossFit Chalk Bucket Mindset

So, what if you didn’t go for that chalk, and instead pushed yourself even further? If you’re always at that gym chalk bucket, you’ll never know!

Just because everyone else in the gym is breaking to get some of that “barbell snow”, doesn’t mean that you have to do the same.

Keep pushing, avoid the CrossFit chalk trap, and see how many more reps you can get without taking a break, and I promise you will thank yourself later.

I’m not saying you should completely abandon chalk for the rest of your CrossFit days, and start shunning those who use it. If you’re doing some heavy lifting and need a great grip for each set, feel free to hit the chalk bucket between sets (since you’re resting anyway).

But next time you jump into a metcon I dare you to limit yourself to ONE trip to the bucket, or even better: none. One chalk before the workout, then “au naturel” until you’re done.

Think you're up for the CrossFit Chalk Bucket challenge?

Comment below and share your thoughts/feelings. Even better, share this post with at least one friend from your gym to keep you accountable and away from the bucket!

Looking for another CrossFit mindset read? Check out this article.

Check out our all new Cardio Engine Program designed for Functional Fitness Athletes.

  • I’m a recovering chalk addict and now I’ll chalk once or twice but I wipe my hands on a towel that I keep right next to me. It works

  • There’s this nice alternative called “liquid grip”, which will last a good bit longer than chalk (although doesn’t quite give the same feel). I have found in the middle of summer, having that as a base layer means better grip overall (but I still sometimes throw some chalk on top). Using some of those gymnastics grips for metcons is also a good option.

    Too much chalk when doing anything that gets me breathing hard makes me all sneezy, anyway xD

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