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Lifting Chalk Reviews

By Gary F. Zeolla

The following message was posted with my training log and some of the reviews were posted on Amazon.

I've always used lifting chalk when lifting weights, both when I lifted weights back in the 1970s to mid-'80s and since I started using free weights again in the early '00s. Lifting chalk was something I never really thought about as I never had a problem with it. So when I got some new chalk recently from Amazon, I posted a premature review of it as I was posting reviews of other items (see Amazon Products Reviews). But when I actually used that chalk, I had problems, so I had to update that review and look for something else. In the process, I tried four different brands of chalks. Below are my reviews of each.

Ader Gym Chalk - 8 blocks

Crumbles into powder

RAGE Fitness (Gibson) Block Chalk

Firm and works well

As a powerlifter, it is very important to maintain a good grip on the bar. This can especially be difficult when pulling a 1RM deadlift. As such, in my book Starting and Progressing in Powerlifting, I recommend using chalk on your hands. And this Ader chalk works just as well as any other brand I have tried. But I really did not expect it not to. I mean, it is just magnesium carbonate. You really cannot screw that up. The chalk comes in eight blocks, each individually wrapped, as most chalk does. But being able to get it from Amazon at an inexpensive price and with Amazon Prime is a plus, so I am giving this chalk five stars.

Update: My apologies for my first review of this chalk. I thought I had started using it, but I was still using a block from the previous pound I had purchased quite a while ago. When I tried the Ader chalk, it was terrible! It crumbled into powder on the first use, making a mess of my home gym, and it did not help with holding onto the bar for deadlifts on the first hot day here in the Pittsburgh area this spring. Therefore, I guess I was wrong; it is possible to screw up magnesium carbonate, so I lowered my rating to one star.

Fortunately, I still had a block of my old chalk, so I pitched the whole pound of the Ader chalk and will use my old chalk until I can get some that works the way it is supposed to. My old chalk was Gibson. It is sold here on Amazon under the name RAGE Fitness Block Chalk. It falls apart and crumbles into powder somewhat, so it leaves some mess, but not excessively. It goes on easily. And most of all, it enables me to hold onto heavy deadlifts, even with sweaty hands.


Mueller Chalk

Too firm, and a slight smell

APT Pro Gear Chalk

Very firm and works very well

After my negative experience with the Ader chalk, I was going to order Gibson/ Rage chalk from Amazon, but instead I contacted APT. It is a powerlifting gear company that I have gotten powerlifting gear from in the past, and it has always been of a very high quality. Alan Thomas (the owner) told me he sells two brands of chalk: Mueller and his own APT brand, so he sent me two blocks of each to try out. I went back and forth between both during three workouts, one for each powerlift.

Both chalks held together very well. The Mueller chalk did not break apart at all, while only a couple of small chucks broke off the APT chalk. But it was just that, chunks, not powder, so even those small chunks were still useful. I used them for chalking the inside of the wrist loops on my wrist wraps and to draw lines on the mats on my lifting platform for where to place my feet. I know the latter might not be a good idea as there are no such lines on the floor at a contest, but that was not a problem at my recent contest.

In any case, the Mueller chalk was so firm that it was a hard to put on. I had to really press to get chalk onto my hands. But it was easy to chalk one side of my wraps. The APT chalk was easier to apply to my hands. And even with going back and forth between both, there was hardly any mess after my workouts. Most of all, both chalks enabled me to get a good grip on the bar. I mainly used the APT chalk during the deadlift workout, and I had no problem holding onto the bar, even with doing chain deadlifts.

However, there was a strange problem with the Mueller chalk. I noticed a faint perfume-like smell as I was using it. Most would probably not even notice it, but I am very sensitive to such things given my multiple chemical sensitivities. But there was no such smell with the APT chalk or any other brand of chalk I have used, which is to be expected with something that is supposed to be just magnesium carbonate. I'm not sure what was up with the Mueller chalk, but it would probably be best if I avoid it.

Putting all of the above together, I would rank these four brands of lifting chalk in the following order: #1 APT, #2, Gibson/ Rage, #3 Mueller, #4 Ader. I still have the one block of the Gibson chalk and the two blocks of the APT chalk, so I will use them for now. When I need more chalk, I will get more of the APT chalk.


After I wrote the above reviews, I did a regular deadlift workout and was having problems holding onto the bar for my first couple of work sets. I was trying to figure out what was happening as I normally do not have grip problems. Then it hit me that I was using my new APT chalk, so I used my lone remaining black of Gibson chalk for my final set. As soon as I held the Gibson chalk, I could see a big difference. It was much softer than the APT chalk, and I was able to get a lot more chalk on my hands. I was thus able to hold onto the bar for my final set with no problems. However, it did make a significantly greater mess than the APT chalk.

 Given this, I need to revise the above ratings and rankings and give the Gibson chalk five stars and rank it #1, and give the APT chalk four stars and rank it #2. Basically, I would recommend the APT chalk if your gym is really picky about getting chalk on the floor, but the Gibson chalk if such is not an issue. As for me, I ordered a pound of the Gibson chalk the next day from Amazon .


Neba Sports Chalk


Firm but works well

You would think buying chalk would be easy. It is just blocks of magnesium carbonate, so it should be hard to mess up. But a while back, when I needed some new chalk, I ran into problems. Some brands I tried were too hard. That made it hard to get sufficient chalk on my hands to do any good. Other brands were too soft. The blocks crumbled the first time I used them, making a considerable mess. 

Then I found Gibson/ Rage chalk on Amazon. It is a bit on the soft side, so it does make somewhat of a mess. But it goes on very thick, so I have no problems with my grip when using it, even on deadlifts. I then wrote reviews on all of the brands I tried and posted them on my website and on Amazon. 

But then Neba Sports saw those reviews and contacted me and asked if I would add a review of their chalk if they sent me a free block. I agreed, so they sent me the chalk. I tried it for a Bench Assistance and a Squat workout, and it worked just fine. 

The chalk is harder than Gibson chalk, so it does not make much of a mess at all, but it also does not go on quite as thick. But the real test was deadlifts. For my Deadlift workout, the chalk worked just fine, and I had no problems with my grip. But I still like the Gibson chalk a bit better as it goes on a bit easier. But again, it makes more of a mess.

To conclude, both the Gibson chalk and the Neba chalk work just fine, even for deadlifts. The Gibson chalk goes on a bit thicker, but the Neba chalk makes less of a mess. Therefore, which to choose would be which of these is more important to you. As for me, I still have over a pound of Gibson chalk, and Neba sent me a full pound of their chalk, so I am set for some time.


Lifting Chalk Reviews. Copyright 2015, 2017 By Gary F. Zeolla.

The links to Amazon are advertising links, for which I receive a commission if a product is purchased after following the link.

Starting and Progressing in Powerlifting:
A Comprehensive Guide to the World’s Strongest Sport

350 page book by Gary F. Zeolla

The above forum post was posted on this website April 24, 2015.
The Update was added May 1, 2015.
The Neba Chalk Review was added May 3, 2017.

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