Let me start of by saying that I’m actually very proud of my calluses. I had very rough hands from gymnastics when I was younger. I lost them eventually because I
became a wussstopped training. I think calluses are mini badges of honor after a great workout, but I understand that it isn’t the most attractive thing..
And aside from that, some excessive calluses are just the result of bad grip and nothing to be proud of. The “good” calluses are raised from your palm (obviously) but rather flat; they help you grip the bar during pulls/lifts. The “bad” calluses are like mountains, often higher towards where your finger and palm meet; these hinder your grip.
“Bad” calluses come from starting your grip too closer to the center of your palm. Your weight in a pull or the barbell in a lift is going to drag the bar away from the palm and towards your fingers. This basically drags the meat of your palm and creates that nasty uneven callus. The bottom row shows an incorrect grip where the meat of your palm is going to be squeezed between the barbell and your fingers.
Now the top row.. That’s gold. And also difficult as hell if your grip is as weak as mine. Start with the bar where it’s going to be during the pull/lift and you avoid the movement of the bar. Kill Fat Me also has a great picture tutorial on proper grip.
I’m relearning my grip and am incorporating grip training into my workout to get myself closer to a pull up. You can have all the back and arm muscles you want, but if you can’t hold on to the bar long enough, you still won’t be able to do a proper dead hang pull up!
Edit: Obviously, gloves can help avoid calluses all together (or mostly). I don’t wear gloves because I like really feeling the bar.