Article by: Matt Spaid
I love chains! Some of you may have seen me utilizing chains when I lift, or have heard me encouraging others to use them during strength work. The reason is simple: they work. You can feel how well they work just after the first time you’ve used them. So what is the idea behind it, other than the fact that they look cool? That’s Rule #1. Always look cool.
The real reason behind it is that they aid in adding resistance to the lift, and it helps develop speed/power to the lockout. It is also a great way to improve strength in the stabilizer muscles.
Normally, as you near the lockout in a lift, you decelerate and have a greater mechanical advantage to finish. As you lower the bar, the weight becomes lighter since the links hit the ground; as you raise it, the weight is increased due to the links coming off the ground. Consequently, you have to create a greater power output to finish the lift.
It will be easy to notice the results. Perform a few sets with the chains, and then perform a set after you have taken them off. Usually, the bar will fly out of the bottom.
You can also help with lockout strength by strategically placing a heavier set of chains at the right height so that as soon as you reach the lockout stage in the lift, there is a dramatic increase in weight. A carabineer makes this setup a lot easier to accomplish.
You can utilize the chains for just about any lift. Squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, the list goes on. I have even used them for hang cleans to help develop my speed to get under the bar. It’s a great piece of equipment to add in, and it only costs about $30 at Home Depot…
*A NOTE ON SAFETY*
ALWAYS make sure the chains are able to maintain contact with the ground. Otherwise, they will start to swing quite aggressively, and this can cause the bar to move too far and cause an injury. Although the chains are great for stability work, you don’t want that much swing involved during a lift. Just imagine if you were trying to lock out your bench press and your spotter decided to push the bar away from you…wouldn’t feel too good.
So, stay light at first. Get comfortable with them, and focus on speed. The chains can add a pretty decent amount of weight to a lift. Don’t be scared to try new things, especially when those new things can get you a lot stronger.