23 July 2016

Why, when and how you should train with chains

They look cool but what practical application do they have and should you use them for any other reason than looking like a bad ass when you train?

Lets start with what chains do. They change the strength curve while lifting a free weight; simply put they make the barbell lighter at the bottom as the chain collects on the floor, and heavier at the top as it’s lifted off. This reduces the usual deceleration phase at the top of the lift.



Your lock out is weak or your sticking point is high. Using chains will increase starting speed and give you more resistance in your at your weak point.



You have good technique and have already built some strength.  They can be used on any lift that is mechanically weaker at the bottom eg. bench, squat, dead lift.  Use them in a development phase where your emphasis is on weeding out weak points, this should be followed by a strength phase bringing the strength curve back to normal with a straight forward lift.  They can also be used effectively in contrast training during speed and power development as the chains allow maximum drive to be applied to the bar throughout the movement.



The point of chains is the change in weight from the top to the bottom of the movement. Therefore set up your heavy chains (eg. 10kg per side) with a light spacer chain so all the heavy chain is just off the floor at the top of the movement and entirely on the floor at the bottom of the movement, with the light chain spacer making up the remainder of the space from floor to bar.

For weeding out weak points go with a low rep range (2-5) for up to 5 sets and follow up some more isolated work on the offending muscles.

For speed and power development use a chained lift for 5 reps (with 1 or 2 reps let in the tank) followed by 1min rest then a fast and light movement e.g. Chained squat 5reps, 1min rest, squat jump 10reps. Do this for up to 5 sets.

Don’t be afraid to try new equipment and training methods out, the best thing you can do with your training is experiment and find out what works for yourself.


Coach Dom Kinsey

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