After reading tons of trainers recommend using chains for various lifts I finally went out and bought two 22 pound chains today so I could finally start training with them.
The chains I bought are built for training, so they come with the collar on the one end that goes onto the barbell next to the weight and then tightens up. Very easy to use, just not easy to haul around!
First I’m going to just let anyone not familiar with workout chains know what they do exactly and then I will let you know how my first test of squatting with chains went…
What are chains used for in weight lifting?
Chains are attached on either side of a barbell. They will hang down to just about the ground (depending how tall you are). For me (about 5’9 or 5’10) the chains were touching the floor. Each chain is 22 pounds. So when you are beginning your squat you will have about 44 pounds of extra weight on the bar. As you start your squat the chain will start to collect on the ground, therefore making the load lighter the further you go down. As you get the very bottom of the squat you will have most of the chain lying on the floor. When you are standing back up in your squat the chain will start to pick up off from the ground and therefore get heavier the closer you get to standing back up. Get it?
So what the chain does is make the barbell heavier at the top of your lifts (where you are the strongest) and makes it lighter at the bottoms of your lifts (where you aren’t as strong).
Without the chain you can only lift as much as your weakest part of the lift, but when you are using a chain you can get that added weight at the top where you are the strongest.
The workout chains can be used on a variety of different lifts including squats, bench press, lunges, and even shoulder presses.
Was squatting with chains effective?
Absolutely. I already love squatting with chains and I highly recommend it.
Today I was able to add about 20 pounds to my squat, and I am sure that number will go up as I get more used to the chains (I wanted to take it easy the first time using them). Of course although it is 20 pounds heavier overall it will be a bit lighter at the bottom of your squat, but the point is that overall you are lifting more weight and are going to get stronger a lot quicker.
I love doing deep squats and having the chains is going to allow me to get nice and deep and then still have a heavy load for the top part of my squat that is obviously a lot stronger.
If you are stuck with any of your big lifts I highly recommend you purchase a set of chains at your local fitness store (call ahead to make sure they have chains though). I should let you know that they are pretty expensive. Mine ran about $170 for the two chains. But if you have the money or want to split it with a few friends I highly recommend picking up the chains – I can guarantee you will love them.
Not only will your lifts (squat, bench, etc) improve strength wise, but you should also see it help with muscle building. If you go ahead and buy chains let me know how you like them in the comments below!