We love a good barbell workout here in the Men's Journal office. But for anyone who doesn't half-ass it in the weight room, a major problem with barbell work — or pull-up work, or kettlebell work — is a set of grip-compromising, sweaty palms.
A lot of gyms, and especially strength-oriented and CrossFit ones, solve this with buckets of chalk lying around to keep your hands good and grippy. But at other places (let's call them boutique spots) that believe gyms should be spotless (why, though?), you're forced to find an alternative. And if that's carrying around a Tupperware full of chalk, well, it's a little obnoxious.
The fix: Liquid chalk, which is pretty much magnesium carbonate mixed with an alcohol that, after drying, becomes a dense layer of chalk. My favorite right now is Secret Stuff from FrictionLabs.
FrictionLabs makes high-performance chalk for rock climbers, the world's fussiest chalk connoisseurs. The Secret Stuff is the company's first foray into a liquid product. It takes a little getting used to; it goes on clear and wet, and needs a few seconds to dry out completely or else you're left with that wet, mushy clay feeling you get when too much chalk mixes with too much sweat. But after that, it's dense and sticky, and does well even with sweaty hands. A dime-sized amount got me through 30 minutes of pull-ups and heavy barbell rows before I reapplied. And not for nothing, the bottle is compact, a little under 3 ounces, and fits in a pocket. For anyone having trouble with a sweaty grip, Secret Stuff is a great place to start. [$19; amazon.com]