As soon as you get serious with weightlifting, chances are you’ll start to use some form of chalk to support your grip during Olympic lifts.
It’s not essential, but there are obviously reasons why Olympic weightlifters use chalk and some of these benefits include:
- Improved grip when doing overhead lifts
- Helps to grip/hold a weight for longer
- Reduces the barbell spinning in your hand
- Acts as a barrier against sweaty palms
Some of these might not seem important as a beginner lifter but once you progress to heavy overhead Olympic lifts, this becomes an essential safety factor to implement. If lifting chalk is essential for heavy Olympic lifts (as well as other compound lifts), which is the best type and why?
In this article, we’ll cover the two most common or popular types of lifting chalk (liquid chalk vs block chalk) to see if one is better than the other and which is most worth your time – and money – to use.
What is Liquid Chalk?
Liquid chalk is liquid (an obvious statement I know), whereas block chalk comes in a solid form.
Liquid chalk can be applied to hands and the barbell before lifting weights or during weightlifting sessions. It’s typically more effective because liquid chalk remains on your skin longer than with regular powdered blocks of chalk.
The difference being that liquid chalk is a relatively new accessory or invention as lifters (and climbers where this chalk is used even more commonly) look for more convenient and quick ways of applying chalk before a lift.
When you sweat liquid chalk off, it will not leave any residue behind like traditional powdered block chalks do. This makes liquid chalks ideal for outdoor workouts – i.e., those that are sweaty from humidity or if you train in a big box or home gym with poor ventilation.
Liquid Chalk Pros and Cons for Weightlifting
Liquid chalk comes with a set of advantages and disadvantages when compared to block chalk.
The benefits of liquid chalk include:
- Liquid chalk is easier and more convenient to use than regular block chalk.
- This chalk will not leave residue on weight bars and weights like traditional blocks of powdered chalk, which can be unsanitary.
- Liquid chalks are non-powdery, so they don’t make a mess (this can be a good workaround for gyms that don’t allow chalk)
- Brands offer liquid chalk in many different colors so fits with your branding for social media presences.
The disadvantages of liquid chalk include:
- They tend to dry out quicker than conventional powder-based chalk blocks and need occasional reapplication during training sessions or workouts.
- Liquid chalk needs to be applied frequently throughout the lift for it to work correctly. Without liquid application, athletes may experience slippage on hands and excessive wear and tear since there’s no longer any moisture when their grip strength decreases.
- This type of chalk may become clumped when being used outside on a freezing day.
These advantages and disadvantages make liquid chalk a better choice, more often than not, depending on what you intend to use the chalk for.
What is Block Chalk?
Block chalk is a solid form of chalk that is typically made from powdered magnesium carbonate and water. Block chalks are usually a couple of inches long to be broken into smaller pieces for multiple purposes, such as weightlifting or gymnastics.
The liquid version is simply liquid magnesium on the hands, which will not create liquid residue when rubbed off. Block chalk is usually cheaper than liquid chalk, but liquid chalk is more convenient because it’s applied directly to the hands.
Block Chalk Pros and Cons for Weightlifting
Block chalk comes with various advantages and disadvantages when compared to liquid chalk.
The advantages of block chalk are:
- Block chalk is more durable than liquid chalk
- This type of chalk is often more inexpensive than the liquid version.
- Block Chalk doesn’t wear away and lasts longer than liquid chalk.
The disadvantages of block chalk include its clumpy consistency for some people.
Block chalk is often more time-consuming to apply and reapply. Hence, liquid chalk users only need one or two quick drips onto their palms before weightlifting, whereas block chalk users need to slather their hands with the chalk for more than two minutes.
Liquid Chalk vs. Block Chalk for Weightlifting
Athletes use different types of materials to help improve their grip on a weight bar or other equipment. Liquid chalks are typically more effective because liquid chalk remains on your skin longer than with regular powdered blocks of chalk.
Liquid chalk is the ideal choice because of the alcohol base, which makes it suitable for those extreme conditions. Liquid chalk also has the advantage of not producing dust like block chalk that could result in respiratory issues like asthma and bronchitis (though there is no research to support this).
Why is Liquid Chalk Better for Weightlifting?
For starters, liquid chalk is easier to apply. You just need a small bottle of liquid chalk and the applicator brush that comes with it!
Liquid chalk also has one other huge advantage over block chalk: liquid does not dry out when stored. Block chalk can get very hard if you don’t use it for long periods (longer than six months). This means your hands will have more friction when lifting weights – which could lead to problems during weightlifting competitions like in CrossFit or powerlifting!
To make liquid chalks last as long as possible, we recommend storing them at room temperature and making sure they are tightly closed after each usage. The optimum liquid form should be kept away from direct sunlight or any heat source.
Which Liquid Chalks are Best for Weightlifting?
There are many different brands of liquid chalk out there, but the ideal one is Liquid Chalk by FrictionLabs because it has an alcohol base, so you can use it even if you’re lifting outside on those frigid days. In addition, this type of chalk doesn’t require any clumping or breaking up.
Another good (and popular) option is Liquid Fit chalk which you can find on Amazon here.
In all honesty, any type of liquid chalk is going to be incredibly effective and beneficial for weightlifting, the brand really doesn’t matter too much!
If, however, you have looked over the pros and cons of liquid chalk vs block chalk and still don’t know which is best suited for you, I’ve also put together another article looking into lifting chalk alternatives so you can check that out if the above two are not for you.
When comparing liquid chalk vs block chalk, the best option will come down to individual preferences. In my opinion, though, liquid chalk is a newer, more innovative, and better option when it comes to weightlifting.
I’ve looked into other lifting chalk alternatives before (mentioned above) and for convenience and effectiveness, non seem to offer quite the same benefit as liquid chalk. With liquid chalk, you have a small bottle that can easily fit in a gym bag and when it comes to application, there is a minimal mess or residue during use.
Those using their own equipment in a home gym will of course appreciate this as it makes it easier to not only clean your barbell but keep it maintained. If you also train in a gym where they are very strict about the use of chalk, liquid chalk cleans off easily and quickly so I can’t personally see too many downsides!
The choice is yours but if you are yet to try liquid chalk for weightlifting, I’d highly recommend testing it yourself and seeing if it not only improves your grip but allows for easier use than other types of chalk – yes block chalk, I’m talking about you…