When you see a cute little animal, what’s your first instinct? For heavy social media users like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the most immediate response is probably to snap a pic and post it on the ‘Gram, with little thought of what may or may not be included in the photo of the critter.
That’s how The Rock, who coaxed a tiny lizard into a photo opp, wound up posting a closeup of his hand—specifically, his right palm—to his 158 million Instagram followers. While Johnson’s caption about snacking on the little lizard was darkly funny (and maybe slightly alarming), the state of his hand is what really catches the eye.
Everyone knows that The Rock trains super hard—the actor shows off his gains online and the big screen, and he’s the owner of the biggest muscles currently in Hollywood. But we don’t often see the more subtle effects of all that iron work, like the leathery, callused, worn skin on the big guy’s palms.
The reaction from Johnson’s followers was split, as most people couldn’t shake the state of his hand. Most people left some remark about the how it was clearly the hand of a working man, but Ballers co-star Rob Corddry called him out, commenting “Your hands are gross.”
What are we to think? Is Johnson’s rough palm a mark of legitimacy, giving him some claim of superiority over a man with less rugged hands? Or is it gross, and a good reason to tell him to invest in a solid pair of gloves and a solid skincare regimen?
From a lifter’s perspective—which, I assume, is where Johnson is coming from—his calluses are more than just a point of pride. The toughened state of his hand proves that Johnson isn’t skimping on reps that will help to build his grip strength, which is essential for lifting big weights and your overall health. Once you introduce an extra layer of material into the equation with a glove, your ability to really squeeze to engage your forearms diminishes.
“In theory, you’re “protecting” your skin from the wear and pounding of metal bars, but you’re also losing a ton of natural grip training,” Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. said when we last addressed the topic. “The best and most organic way for you to train your grip has always been to grip with intent. But you can’t truly grip with gloves, and you lose the ability to truly feel what you’re gripping.”
In short, don’t lift with gloves if you want the best possible results for both strength and size. If you really need help with your grip, use straps or chalk instead—as it appears Johnson does at times—but only when absolutely necessary.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with taking care of your hands. Tough hands do not a tough guy make, after all. While some guys might own their calluses as a point of pride, others might have shudder at the dry, cracked skin of Johnson’s palm the minute it crossed their timeline.
If you’re one of those guys, never fear. Check out these hand creams to keep your palms in good condition (when you’re outside of the weight room, since you definitely don’t want to attempt a big lift post-lotion). If you’re wary of skincare products, start with this non-threatening option from O’Keefe’s.
Unfortunately, The Rock himself didn’t weigh-in on his post. But after fans flooded Corddry with comments, the comedian responded with an update from “Duane” about how the hands were wrought: “Oh and btw, it wasn’t hard work and lifting weights that made his hands so gross,” Corddry wrote. “It was from all the high-fiving. He does love a good high-five. Sincerely, Rob ‘Silky Hands’ Corddry.”