Why Is Chalk Not Allowed In Gyms?

chalked hands
November 16, 2022 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “why is chalk not allowed in gyms?”. It is important to clarify that chalk is still allowed in hardcore gyms and some commercial gyms.

However, there is a still a big problem with many commercial gyms banning chalk use. This article will explore potential reasons behind this and what steps you can take if you are affected.

Why Is Chalk Not Allowed In Gyms?

There are some key reasons as to why chalk is banned in many commercial gyms. The first relates to overall cleanliness. Some gym members leave a big mess when using chalk and don’t clean up after themselves.

This causes the management to get annoyed and ban chalk use. Another reason has to do with the culture that it encapsulates. Chalk use is generally associated with heavy lifting and a culture of machismo and manliness.

Some commercial gyms are unfortunately at odds to this culture and therefore don’t want chalk to be used inside their facilities. As it is generally a minority of members who use chalk, many commercial gyms feel they can ban it without it harming their bottom line too much.


The most obvious reason why many commercial gyms ban chalk is the mess that it creates. There are some people who will create a lot of mess when using chalk and not clean up for themselves.

This effectively ruins it for everyone else who wants to use chalk in that facility without making mess. Blocks of chalk tend to be the biggest culprit and tend to cause more mess than other forms of chalk.

Some gyms are very particular when it comes to cleanliness and want everything to be neat and tidy. Lots of chalk on the floor and on equipment doesn’t fit in with this ideal environment that they want people to exercise in.

Intimidation Factor

A big elephant in the room when it comes to this topic is the intimidation factor. Heavy chalk use is normally associated with hardcore powerlifters and bodybuilders and is seen as very macho.

Some gyms don’t want their members to be intimidated by others using chalk and lifting very heavy. A good example of this is Planet Fitness. In that gym they have a lunk alarm to deter people from lifting very heavy and making lots of noise.

Personally, I feel that the whole essence of going to a gym is self improvement and making gains in strength and size. Gyms that don’t welcome proper lifters are not gyms that I would want to train in. 

There is also the power trip element of management. When I was a lot younger and trained at the university gym, chalk use was not allowed. It seemed like the gym manager was always on a power trip and would put lots of rules in place to deter people from doing things.

Making noise from deadlifting was also something that was not allowed at the time and they wanted people to lift off of blocks. There are some gym managers who get high from the power that they get from enforcing rules and banning people from doing things.

Minority Of People Use Chalk

In many commercial gyms it is only a very small minority of members who actually use chalk regularly. Even some people who have a little experience lifting weights don’t bring chalk to the gym with them.

Therefore, many commercial gyms feel that they can get away with prohibiting chalk use without suffering too many repercussions in terms of their bottom line.

I am confident that if a lot more lifters using chalk frequented commercial gyms, they would change their policies and be a lot more lenient towards chalk use.

What To Do If Your Gyms Bans Chalk

If you are a serious lifter and train at a commercial gym that has banned chalk, there are some things that you can do.

Firstly you should try to use liquid chalk instead of normal block chalk. It is far less messy and it is possible to leave very little trace of chalk. You don’t need to put a lot on your hands and I actually find it to be superior to block chalk.

Secondly, you can be more diligent in cleaning after yourself and not leaving a trace of chalk use. You could save your chalk use for very heavy sets only and abstain from using it otherwise.

For instance, on exercises such as the bench press, you could just use a tiny bit of chalk on your heaviest set. On the deadlift, you could use chalk for your last few heavy sets only.

On the squat there is no need for chalk use. Some people do chalk their upper backs up – but if you are in a gym that has banned chalk then it is best not to.

The biggest offences in gyms that often go ignored are the members that don’t put their weights away after use and leave lots of plates and dumbbells everywhere on the gym floor.

Another solution is to use the Metolius eco ball. This is a chalk ball and is a more environmentally friendly alternative to liquid chalk. You can find similar chalk balls in specialist climbing stores.

I personally prefer liquid chalk and use this for my training. I find that it is the best version of chalk, is not messy and is the best for maximising your grip strength. 

The liquid chalk that I use is BEAST liquid chalk – this has been tested and approved by “the beast” Eddie Hall, the legendary strongman. The new formula is much better than it used to be, I would highly recommend it!

Final Thoughts

Why is chalk not allowed in gyms? I am just going to summarise the main points of my article. The main reasons why a lot of commercial gyms ban chalk pertains to cleanliness issues, the culture that it portrays and for a power trip.

This has been my experience and the experience of many other lifters who have frequented commercial gyms over the years. If you happen to be in a situation where your gym bans chalk, there are things you can do.

You can use liquid chalk and use it very sparingly for your heaviest sets. Also be sure to clean after yourself to remove any traces of chalk use.

There is a great article by Shaun Jafarian that does a great job at displaying the current culture in a lot of commercial gyms and how it is detrimental to serious lifters. You can read the article HERE.


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