Magnesium carbonate is a white solid that occurs in nature as a mineral (MgCO3). More commonly it is referred to as the gym chalk or climbing chalk due to its use in sports like powerlifting, weightlifting, gymnastics, rock climbing and athletics (shot put, javelin throw, hammer throw, discus throw).
Magnesium carbonate acts as a drying agent for hands by absorbing sweat. This ensures reliable and strong grip and prevents slipping of the equipment from your hands.
Note that chalk used in sports is different than the one for drawing on sidewalks and blackboards (sidewalk chalk or blackboard chalk). Also, chalk is not the same as baby powder. Although baby powder does absorb the sweat from your hands it will do quite the opposite to your grip than chalk; reduce the friction between the bar and the hands and as a consequence weaken your natural grip strength.
Gym Chalk Benefits in Powerlifting
- Squat (Use chalk on your hands to ensure stronger grip on the bar. Spread it across the back to hold the bar in place and remove pressure to your wrists. It can be used on knee area underneath knee wraps for an extra measure of hold. Some people even chalk the floor to prevent slipping).
- Bench Press (Chalking hands strengthens the grip on the barbell. You can apply it on your shoulder blades and butt to prevent sliding from the bench during the lift).
- Deadlift (Deadlifting strength is limited to the grip strength on the bar. A lot of people can’t hold the weight they can actually lift, which prevents them from achieving the peak performance. Also, concentrating on holding the bar instead on lifting it will definitely throw your technique off course. Gym chalk should be heavily spread across the entire palm and fingers to surpass this problem. This may help you add even up to 100lbs (45kg) to your grip strength).
Common Magnesium Carbonate Forms
- Chalk Powder (Powder is the most common form used. But there is a certain drawback to it; it creates a mess in the gym. So be careful if you have a strict gym policy about the usage of such chalk form).
- Chalk Blocks (Chalk block, also called chalk soap or chalk ball is more efficient than powder because it wastes less during use and therefore lasts much longer. You can store it in a plastic zipper seal bag (sandwich bag) or a chalk bag which is more commonly used in rock climbing. When you want to use it just put your hands inside the chalk bag, roll the block around them a few times and it will coat your hands nicely).
- Liquid Chalk (Available in lotion and spray forms it is ideal for commercial gyms where chalk is not allowed or you have a gym manager who gets angry when you make a mess by using it. Apply it across the area you want and it will transform in solid chalk in few seconds. Liquid chalk is legal for use in all competitions).