28 Jan 2015 – A Visit to the Archives: (Don't) Let it Rip - How to Tape your Hands

As some of you may have already learned, and some of you may just be finding out, with all the bar and rig work we do, an unfortunate reality of CrossFit is that your hands will rip. Yes, RIP. Skin will come off, your hands will bleed, there will be pain. Some athletes consider it a necessary rite of passage, but no matter what your thoughts are, it will affect your training.... you can't lift anything if you can't bear the pain of putting your hands around that cold metal barbell, can you?! So, today we go to the BroSesh Sunday's archives to re-visit a blog we wrote on how to tape your hands and avoid those nasty tears. Enjoy Bros!

We spend loads of time hanging on rigs, rings and gripping barbells, all of which wreaks havoc on our poor mitts. This blog is dedicated to the fine art of protecting your hands from these rips and tears, be it preventative or post-rip protection. Listed below are 5 ways that we Bros have tried and tested to protect our hands. These suggestions are in addition to the shaving and filing of the callouses, which all athletes should do regularly. * I may or may not have painted my nails for this feature… Whatevs, they're wicked pretty.


5. The Gloves

Gloves are fantastic. I mean they are seriously great. They keep your hands warm during bitterly cold weather, can really complement a nice winter coat, and…oh wait, we’re not talking about THOSE gloves. Ok, these gloves. These gloves are fantastic as well. I find they’re really great at protecting my hands when I’m out doing my gardening. That’s it. Seriously. Gloves in a workout? I wouldn’t recommend it.

Pros: You get to add another piece of gear to your gym kit arsenal. One more thing to schlep around in your rucksack. Whoopty Doo.
Cons: They compromise your grip, you’ll never develop callouses on your hands, they’re expensive, they tear, they’re hot, they look silly.


4. The 'Hail Mary' Wrap

Akin to the 'Hail Mary Pass' of American football fame, the Hail Mary Wrap happens on the 18th minute of ‘Mary’, when your hands are ripped to shreds and you just can’t soldier through the pain any more. You grab the nearest roll of tape and wrap a strip around your palm. With the tape working with the grain instead of against it, it tends to come off quickly and as a simple wrap-around, it doesn’t give your hand much flexibility.

How to:

  • Wrap a long strip of zinc oxide or kinesiology tape (such as Rocktape) around your palm as quickly as possible.
  • Jump back on the rig.
  • Hope for the best.

Pros: It may give you 2-3 reps with whatever rip you had developed covered. 
Cons: The wrap will only last 2-3 reps before it bunches up and slides off your palm and you kinda just wasted 1 minute putting it on your hand.


3. The Pull-up Awareness Ribbon

This is the method I use the most. It is effective at covering both the common palm rips, as well as the more annoying (and difficult to cover), base of the finger rips. In my experience, this has the durability to last through a long workout, as well as the flexibility to move with your hand as it grips the barbell/rig.

How to:

  • Take one long strip of zinc oxide tape and fold in half.
  • With your hand slightly closed, wrap this around your ring finger (or whichever finger would cover your rip) in a half-bow.
  • Secure to your hand with another long band of zinc oxide tape strapped around your wrist.


Pros: Flexible, durable, easy to remove, doesn’t mummify your hand in tape, provides a decent amount of padding for already existent tears. 
Cons: A bit fiddly to put on and if you measure incorrectly, you could end up wasting lots of tape, or have lots of tape sticking out the bottom. Also, if you don’t fold the tape well and leave some of the adhesive side showing, you may end up sticking to the bar.


2. The Gymnast's Hand Guard

In our experience, this is the best and easiest taping method.

How to:

  • Using kinesiology tape, measure a strip the length of your wrist to the tip of your ring finger.
  • Double this strip and cut from the roll.
  • Fold in half and in the middle of the fold, cut a V-shaped hole.
  • To apply, put your ring finger through the hole and, with a slightly cupped hand, stick the tape to the palm and back of the hand, covering the rip.
  • Double-secure the tape to the hand using a long strip of tape around the wrist.


Pros: Durable, flexible, easy to apply and provides lots of coverage. 
Cons: Doesn’t provide as much padding as the Pull Up Awareness Ribbon, but other than that, not many cons!

1. Work on your grip

The best way to protect yourself against ripped hands is not just tape, but to work on your grip through positioning work and building your grip strength. When you hold on to the rig, is your thumb around the bar? Is your pinky knuckle over top of the bar? Yes? Wicked. No? Fix it. This method of gripping the bar creates a pseudo-false grip that not only puts your shoulders in a better position, but also reduces friction, which in turn reduces tears. Also, get rid of the Disney Mickey Mouse White Gloves! Over-chalking dries your hands. Dry hands are more likely to rip.

For more information on improving your grip, check out Carl Paoli’s (of GymnasticsWOD fame) pull-up progression video.


A) Push Press: Establish new 3 RM

B) 12 minute AMRAP:
Run 200 m
10 KB Swings 32/24kg
5 STOH @ 80% of above rep max

WLC Lounge WOD
12 minute AMRAP:
Run 200 m
10 Tuck jumps
10 Push ups