Exploring Phantom Strength From Using Workout Gloves

Many people have heard of a phenomenon called Phantom Limb. Person’s with a missing or amputated limb sometimes experience pain or a sensation as if the limb were actually there.  I recently read an interesting book called Phantoms In The Brain which explores how our brain functions, controls our movements, emotions, and perceptions.  While reading the book, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to my experiences with Personal Training clients.  For example, some clients feel that using a specific piece of exercise equipment or workout gloves makes them stronger or more efficient.

Exploring Phantom Strength From Using Workout Gloves

Pull ups are a great exercise to use as an example because everyone can relate.  The movement itself is so simple.  We simply reach up to a pull ups bar, grab a hold of it and proceed to lift our body off the ground. However this this seems to be one of the most difficult exercises for people. In my years of experience working with Personal Training clients I’ve realized that the difficulty is both real and perceived.  The term perceived exertion is often used by trainers.  For example a trainer may ask you to do a biceps curl with 10 lbs and ask you to rate the level of difficulty from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most arduous.  This is how they can determine how much weight you can handle.

Phantom Strength From Using Workout Gloves

Hand protection in the gym will indeed make any exercise more comfortable but it in no way will it increase your actual strength.  Many people will do pull ups and stop before reaching muscle failure because their perceived level of exertion has been reached.  They experience pain or an uncomfortable feeling in their hands and / or forearms and this brain signal causes them to stop. GymPaws Workout gloves act as a barrier between your skin and the metal bar.  Because of the optimal padding and genuine leather material, hand fatigue is reduced.  Therefore you may be able to complete more repetitions vs barehand.

GymPaws Phantom Strength Grips

I like to refer to this as phantom strength.  You are not actually stronger because of your workout gloves.  However by reducing those brain signals of discomfort which tell you to stop, you will be able to increase your performance.

Real Grip Strength

So let’s assume you’re wearing your GymPaws workout gloves and are still having difficulty performing a couple of sets of pull ups.  The reason is most likely poor grip strength.  The muscle and tendons of your fingers, hands, wrists, and forearms are responsible for how much force is exerted when you grasp an object.  You can have the biggest biceps in the gym and still not be able to do pull ups very well if you have underdeveloped grip strength.

It is also a common misconception that by sticking to the bar, you will be more effective at doing pull ups.  This is untrue and unsafe.  Your hand should naturally rotate around the bar and you complete the movement.  Gym pads or grips that “stick” to the bar can inhibit this motion and put undue stress on the wrists.  This concept applies to ALL exercises in the gym.  Unless you are remaining static (meaning not moving) the object you grasp (i.e. barbell etc.,) should rotate freely within your grip.  A great example of this is a gymnastic routine or workout.