Strength training can be a fantastic way to get your reps in, but it's not by any means "low-impact." Outside of the loads you're putting your muscles through, you're also straining your body in other areas, namely your hands. Your grip is important when moving heavy weights, and when you combine that strain with the aggressive knurling often featured on barbells and dumbbells, you're setting yourself up for unavoidable calluses and abrasions — not to mention compromised grip when sessions get sweaty.
To combat these training-specific setbacks, weightlifting gloves are there to help protect your precious skin from the irritating feeling of abrasive weights and bars. Utilizing high-quality materials to give your grasp the support it needs, these fitness accessories are designed to help you get the most out of your training. But which glove is the best fit for your regimen? Before we dive into which weightlifting gloves hold the crown, let's look into who should be wearing gloves in the first place, and which factors to consider before purchasing a pair for yourself.
BEST OVERALL WEIGHTLIFTING GLOVESUnder Armour Project Rock Training Gloves Read More
BEST UPGRADE WEIGHTLIFTING GLOVESVersa Gripps Pro Read More
BEST BUDGET WEIGHTLIFTING GLOVESHarbinger Fitness Pro Gloves Read More
BEST LIGHTWEIGHT WEIGHTLIFTING GLOVESUnder Armour UA Training Gloves Read More
BEST LIFTING STRAPSHarbinger Fitness Padded Cotton Lifting Straps Read More
Who Should Wear Weightlifting Gloves?
The ultimate goal of any respectable weightlifting glove is to protect your precious skin from irritation. Additionally, many weightlifting gloves have added features in the palm to help improve grip when grasping onto a barbell or dumbbell. For these reasons, essentially anyone can benefit from including weightlifting gloves in their fitness wardrobe, because who wouldn't want to protect their hands from abrasions?
With this said, however, gripping any weight without the comforting layer between skin and metal can have its benefits. For one, you're more connected to the load, giving off a better mental connection that could propel your training forward. Secondly, if you lift without weightlifting gloves, you're relying solely on your grip strength to control the weight through the entirety of the movement, which works separate muscles in your hands and joints outside of the targeted muscles.
At the end of the day, there's no set-in-stone answer as to whether or not you should be wearing weightlifting gloves in your training. If they make you feel more comfortable in a gym setting, great. If you'd rather feel the knurling on your skin, or have efficient grip strength to complete your exercises, forego this accessory.
What to Look for In Workout Gloves
If you are part of the weightlifting glove crowd, there are a handful of features you want to pay attention to. First and foremost, you want a glove that'll be with you session after session. Look for durable materials that offer plenty of resiliency for intense training circuits. Leather can be a fantastic option for this need, as it maintains a certain rigidity throughout extended use while still remaining pliable enough to comfortably fit your hands.
Additionally, you want to look at weightlifting gloves that feature grip enhancers that won't become compromised once you begin to sweat. Leather and rubber are popular materials for these needs, but can become slippery when introduced to moisture. It can be a bit of a learning curve to find out which system works best for you, so be prepared to switch things up if you aren't satisfied out of the gate. Thankfully, most weightlifting gloves are fairly priced, so it's not like you're investing a ton in a product when you're still learning the ropes.
Lifting Gloves vs. Lifting Straps
It's no secret that weightlifting gloves don't have the aesthetics of other fitness accessories, but that doesn't mean they aren't effective. The best comparison you can make is between gloves and lifting straps. Designed to take the strain of weightlifting off the fingers and into the wrist, these accessories wrap around the barbell for more secure grip while also providing a layer between knurling and skin.
Having used both in training, I'm partial to lifting straps due to their increased emphasis on weight security. If you're brand-new in strength training, however, weightlifting gloves can be sufficient in helping you grip the bar or dumbbell without tearing up your palms. Once you become more accustomed to the exercises and get a better grip — pun intended — on your abilities, you can then begin to look into straps.
How We Tested
I've had plenty of experience with hand-centric fitness accessories over the years and had a chance to test some of these top picks across multiple weeks of intense workouts. I highlighted key features like durability and comfort, as well as how easy it was to find the right grip for the tasks at hand. I also noted each glove and accessory's breathability, as sweat can prove to be a deciding factor when confirming the handle you have on the load, especially during heavier exercises. While each pick had its moment in the sun, there were modalities that favored certain styles, which were also cited in my research and curation of this list.
Now, let's strap up and see which weightlifting gloves are ready to grab hold of your next PR-busting regimens.
Under Armour Project Rock Training Gloves
Under Armour’s Project Rock lineup is built for the “hardest workers in the room,” and with these impressive weightlifting gloves, you should easily achieve that moniker. I enjoyed the comfort and protection provided by these gloves, and thought the brushed fleece thumb was a nice addition that allowed me to clear any sweat from around my eyes.
The most notable feature of the Project Rock Weightlifting Gloves, though, is the elastic wrist strap. Not only did this provide the best fit of the bunch, but it served as a great support system for barbell and dumbbell presses. While the lightweight leather in the palm could be prone to rips and tears down the road — especially if you’re trying to achieve the physique of one Dwayne Johnson — it’s hard to not give these the championship belt in this fitness rumble.
Versa Gripps Pro
If you’re more experienced with lifting straps but hate wrapping them over the barbell, the Versa Gripps Pro provide excellent support in an easy-to-use profile. I’ve personally used these grips for multiple years, and my deadlift PRs owe a lot to the non-slip, custom-engineered material. The raised edge provides an excellent shelf to lock in your grip, and there’s no delay if you need to ditch the weight like you’d potentially see with traditional straps.
The only downfall of the Versa Gripps Pro is that the rigid flaps can get in the way slightly if reaching for a drink, toggling through your smartwatch or trying to use your phone. The hook and loop wrist closure is simple enough to toggle, though, so getting them off is a breeze.
Harbinger Fitness Pro Gloves
If you’re looking for a little bit of coverage without breaking the bank, the Pro series weightlifting gloves from Harbinger are a great fit. The two-piece, perforated palm offers up plenty of grip and protection while still maintaining a breathable, comfortable feel. Plus, the pull tabs on the middle finger, ring finger and wrist give enough material to make on-and-off pulling much easier than other gloves in this roundup.
One thing to pay attention to, however, is sizing. The hook and loop wrist closure could be a sticking point, especially for those with larger hands. Normally, I’d opt to not strap these weightlifting gloves for this very reason when doing presses, but if you plan on doing rows and deadlifts in your gloves, just size accordingly so you can benefit from the proper support.
Under Armour UA Training Gloves
Looking for a lightweight mitt that gives some coverage without weighing down your wrists and hands? Under Armour’s UA Training Gloves are an exceptional option providing the breathability you want with the durability you need. I tested these gloves on lighter days when big pulls weren’t on the schedule and enjoyed the comfort provided by the textured fabric. Additionally, the UA Training Gloves are machine washable, so you’re able to wash away any funk you pick up from those hard days in the gym.
These weightlifting gloves also feature pull-tabs at the fingers and wrist for easier on-and-off scenarios. While the wrist tab made the start of training much easier, I would’ve liked the fingers to have a little more material to grab onto. At times, it was difficult to grab hold of the tabs, making it seem like I was removing a rubber medical glove instead of a fitness accessory.
Harbinger Fitness Padded Cotton Lifting Straps
While the Versa Gripps Pro are my current go-to when it comes to grippy fitness accessories, I still recommend these cotton lifting straps to any athlete that's getting used to using straps. The cotton grabs easily onto barbell knurling, allowing for exceptional stability when pulling. Plus the NeoTek pad creates a well-cushioned wrap around my wrists, which is great when most of the load switches from your fingers to this joint when using lifting straps.
Are they as versatile as weightlifting gloves? No. Do they offer great grip in pulling modalities? Absolutely. If your grip is holding back your totals, these affordable, effective straps from Harbinger Fitness are a great way to boost your workouts without too complicated of a setup procedure.
BIONIC Gloves Premium Full Finger Fitness Gloves
Most weightlifting gloves come in a half-glove silhouette, allowing for some skin contact against the barbell or dumbbell. For some athletes though, like obstacle course runners or strongman competitors, full coverage can be a better option for the added safety and grip across surfaces. BIONIC Gloves’ Premium Full Finger Fitness Gloves feature anatomical pads across the structure, providing relief as they displace pressure more evenly. Additionally, a pre-rotated finger design creates a more comfortable, effortless grip whether you’re grasping a kettlebell or climbing up a rope ladder.
As with any full-fingered glove, though, it’s important to note the thickness of your fingers before purchasing. Due to the athletic build of these fitness gloves, there’s not a lot of room to wiggle in the finger slots. You might need to size up if your paws are particularly plump.
Schiek Ronnie Coleman Signature Series Lifting Gloves
Bodybuilding can be a great discipline to follow, especially if your main goal is to look good. Because you’re not focused on the heaviest totals, though, you might find bodybuilding-specific lifting gloves to lack in terms of protection and support. Designed in collaboration with eight-time Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman, these impressive lifting gloves from Schiek give you all the support you need to sculpt that dream physique while lifting some heavy-ass weight.
A rubberized, non-slip grip pairs nicely with the leather construction that only gets better as you train more. Plus, a Neoprene wrist strap offers soft comfort and substantial rigidity for pressing movements. While you might need to wipe the rubber clean from sweat every once in a while to keep these gloves at peak tackiness, these are sure to help you crank up the volume the next time you hit the gym.
Bear KompleX 3-Hole Hand Grips
CrossFit can be a strain on your hands, with plenty of potential for calluses and skin breaks through the variety of movements. The genuine leather featured in the 3-Hole Hand Grips from Bear KompleX helps defend against these injuries, providing a comfortable barrier between you and the bar with enough grip to power through muscle-ups, swings and more.
The Bear KompleX 3-Hole Hand Grips closely resemble gymnastics grips, and this similarity shines bright when performing pull-ups and other bodyweight exercises. I really enjoy the added security these gloves provide during these modalities, but before you hit the gym with these accessories, just make sure you have the right size for your needs. Once you use them — or worse, slather a good layer of chalk on for additional grip — Bear KompleX will not accept returns.
Gymreapers Figure 8 Lifting Straps
If your training involves more strongman or powerlifting-specific exercises, weight security is a must. For better connection to the weights at hand, figure 8 straps provide double the security at the wrist while still relying on your grip strength to pull the load up. For these needs, I highly recommend the Figure 8s from Gymreapers. Heavy-duty cross-stitching and thick cotton webbing combine for excellent support across plenty of high-intensity, heavy-load modalities.
The Figure 8s from Gymreapers are no joke, and as a result, aren’t the best for every lifter. If you’re just figuring out your grip strength and which accessory works best for your needs, it might be best to save these for future training goals. If you are looking to be the next 500-kilo deadlift in the record books, though, these can be an excellent tool for the tasks at hand.
Mechanix Wear Original Work Gloves
What if you’re looking for a weightlifting glove that’s just as comfortable in the gym as it is in the garage? The Original Work Gloves from Mechanix provide just enough coverage and support to get you through your training while also doubling as a damn-fine option for manual labor, too. Especially for home gym enthusiasts, this can be a great way to have multi-faceted gear in more ways than one.
I really liked the touchscreen capabilities of these gloves, which allowed me to change music and other settings on my phone mid-workout without problems. Versatility aside, however, you can’t ignore the fact that these aren’t built with training in mind. While they’re a great option for those wanting one glove to rule them all, there are more specialized picks out there that cater to the knurling of a barbell or dumbbell.