It doesn’t matter if you are trying to develop more explosiveness, speed, strength, or put on muscle. Adding chains to your workout routine is tremendously beneficial and can help you accomplish your goals. The various levels of resistance chains offer help your body break through plateaus and develop strength in ways a standard plated barbell falls shy of. If you’ve never used chains as part of your weight training routine before, or if you need a quick refresher, read on! We’ll cover everything you need to know about why chains can play a critical role in your training routine.
Let’s Set it Straight
Before diving into some of the benefits chains can provide to your workout routine, let’s set a common misconception straight. Chains are not just for powerlifters or for people looking to break personal records with how much weight they can lift. Believe it or not, chains can help you lose weight, tone your muscles, improve your strength, improve your muscular endurance, and improve your speed. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, more often than not, lifting with chains can help you reach that goal!
How do Chains Help
Chains come in a variety of weights. You can find chains as light as 5 pounds, or chains that exceed 100 pounds. However, the one thing in common a chain has is the fact that - when used properly - the full weight of the chain is not loaded on the bar throughout the entire movement. For example, the chain actually hangs from the barbell. If you are bench pressing, the chains are lightest when the bar is closer to your chest, as more and more chain links are on the floor, but steadily increase in weight as you press the bar into the air.
That same principle applies to various other movements as well. It’s common to add chains to your squat and deadlifts so you can have varying weights at various stages of your lift.
Why Does That Matter
Having the weight be dynamic throughout the motion has numerous benefits! Below are some of the most common and important benefits:
Chains help you build explosiveness. Instead of having the weight stay stagnant for the entirety of the lift, you can have the weight increase or decrease throughout the range of motion you follow to complete the lift in full. For example, if you have a difficult time locking out the bench press, having weights that present resistance the further you get in your lift will help your body develop stronger muscles in that area of the lift. Therefore, once you train for some time and eventually remove the chain and add the stagnant weight to the bar, you should be able to power through an area you were previously stuck at.
Chains also help with developing stabilizing muscles. Unlike a 45lb plate, chains can move throughout the lift. This can help your body develop the stabilizing muscles, and can also help develop your core muscles.
- If you want to develop speed and explosiveness, a tried and true method is to lift with chains. This benefit is very much related to the first bullet above, but the varying levels of weight at various stages of the lift can certainly be used to add explosiveness to your lift. Let’s take the bench press as an example. As you press the bar off your chest, you’ll need to press it with great force and speed to offset the increase in resistance you’ll face when you have chains on the bar. Therefore, you develop your mind and body to really springboard that bar off of your chest and into the air as quickly as you can. If you don’t press with enough force and speed, the resistance from the chains will prevent the bar from advancing upward.
Need to Purchase Chains?
If you’d like to add chains to your workout routine, but need to purchase them, have no concerns. You can do so online, and the chains can arrive on your doorstep in just a few days. Rogue is a well-known and respected name in the lifting community and offers a wide range of chains at different weights.
Make Sure the Setup is Correct
Adding chains to your barbell may seem straightforward, but there is nuance that needs to be taken into consideration. You must ensure the chains on either side of the barbell are at an exact match, in terms of weight, length, and the amount of chain that is on the floor or hanging. If any of these variables are off, one side of the barbell will be heavier than the other.
Beyond that, there are various techniques you could use. For example, draping chains inside of each other is a common approach, as is hanging chains for squatting variations.
If you’re intimidated or unsure where to begin, be sure to do some research to ensure you are maximizing the benefits of using chains in your workout routine, and that you using the chains correctly.