Details and Why I Perform Hand Care

I was standing in my bathroom this morning, filing my thumbnail like usual, and I realized something in that moment of attention to minutia. I believe that attention to detail is a significant predictor of success.

It has been about 4 week since dedicating myself to the sport of weightlifting. In that time no part of my body has taken more of a beating than my hands. Between gripping the bar on the pull of a clean, holding the bar in the catch of a snatch, and chalking my hands more than that blackboard the Matt Damon intellectually owns in Good Will Hunting, my hands are just beat to hell.


Every serious lifter out there has/had calluses. We tend to wear them with pride. They’re like precious fossils reminding us of lifts gone by. Unfortunately in weightlifting those damn calluses tend to get ripped, and if that happens a session can be lost. After having that traumatic injury occur one time too many in training I decided to do something about it.

Donny Shankle (If you don’t know who Donny Shankle is watch the video in one of my last posts here) made a video to help all his fellow weightlifters learn how to properly take care of the all-important hands. The video goes into detail about the necessary tools, being a moisturizing bar of soap, a jar of Bag Balm (or other waxy hand salves), and a callus remover.

hand care

To appropriately execute the hand care, first wash the hands with warm water and the moisturizing soap. Then, use the callus remover to carefully buffer off hardened skin from the potentially injurious calluses. Finally, liberally apply the Bag Balm. Repeat daily.

How big of a difference does that whole procedure make? Bigger than you would expect. It has taken about a week to see a difference but my now soft-as-a-baby’s bottom hands are helping me lift like a hard-bodied bad man. I even bring some salve (that word makes absolutely no sense by the way) and a callus remover to the gym for post-workout care. My attention to detail though doesn’t stop at callus tear prevention.

That leads me back to my filing session in the bathroom this morning. I was tending to my thumbnail because last week I ripped that same nail from it’s cozy bed on my left hand (documentation below).

Weighlifter's Thumb

It turns out though that weightlifters tend to keep their thumbnails long to avoid the exact same problem I encountered. So, since last week I have been growing out my thumbnails to be just like the behemoths I practically worship. This process is especially hard for me because I am a chronic nail-biter. I am trying to conquer a life long habit in the pursuit of greater success in weightlifting. Yeah. I love it that much.

The devil is in the details?

Details are annoying. That’s a given. More often than not though, success is largely hinged on attending to detail. A program is only as good as it’s execution. Don’t do the program as it is written, don’t do the exercises prescribed, don’t perform the percentages calculated, don’t take the rest recommended, and don’t get the results you want. Same thing goes with a nutrition plan. Same thing goes with a recovery regimen.

Pay attention to detail by taking a vitamin. By foam rolling before training. By writing down what you had for lunch. By turning off the electronics 30 minutes before bed. By staying calm in times of potential stress. By remembering to be happy.

Value the details in your life, in your training program, and in your diet. Give those details their due, but do not obsess over them. I take good are of my hands, but when it comes time to chalk up and grip the hell out of the bar, I do it.

Success is in the details!

Relentlessly, diligently pursue success and accept nothing less.


One response to “Details and Why I Perform Hand Care

  1. Hand care is so important for heavy lifting like the olympic lifts or kettlebell work!

    As you said, caring for my hands has greatly improved the quality of my workouts and reduced the number of missed sessions due to ripped calluses.

    In addition to hand creams and pumas stones, I find the occasional manacure to be immensely beneficial. They’re a great way to combine nail care, moisturization and massage into one treatment.

    The secret, of course, is being man enough to walk into a nail salon!

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